Volume 91, Issue 27

Thursday, October 16, 1997

Bored of Governors


Grading profs discussed

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

A discussion paper released in May by the Provost's Advisory Committee on Faculty Evaluation and Development came under review yesterday in an open meeting with Western's administration and faculty members.

The discussion paper focused on the implementation of an annual, unit-specific teacher evaluation process for all faculty members. The report outlined this process as including "not only an evaluation of performance but also mentoring and support of the individual's scholarship, including both teaching and research."

Yesterday's meeting was aimed at opening the lines of dialogue, particularly between Western's provost and VP-academic Greg Moran and faculty members. It witnessed a certain amount of compromise between administration and faculty as proposals made in the paper were negotiated by both groups.

Moran began by explaining his reasons for implementing a teacher evaluation process. He explained it was necessary to evaluate teachers just as they do students to recognize and reward a particular contribution to the university – not only in the area of teaching, but research and administrative efforts as well.

"It is vital for all of us to receive feedback from our colleagues to know how we are doing, particularly for young faculty so they are clear on expectations."

Another reason evaluations are necessary is for general accountability, Moran said. "I don't think it is unreasonable for the people who pay for this operation to expect us to be accountable." He assured the faculty the university's autonomy would not be threatened because of this attention to accountability.

The current situation regarding teachers' evaluations is that a process is already in place in some units, but not all, Moran explained. "This I consider to be a weakness of the university. There is no senate requirement for an annual evaluation process on this level and we should be proud of a framework for this process."

Moran admitted there was a certain amount of underestimation on his behalf concerning particular elements of the discussion paper. He said he had underestimated the faculty's sentiments concerning academic freedom that could be threatened with the proposed evaluation process and the extent to which people perceived the evaluations to be a talk-down process.

"I think we can still achieve the original objectives and eliminate some requirements," Moran said. He added a proposed mandatory annual meeting of evaluation would only have to be attended by un-tenured members instead of all faculty.

Philosophy chair John Bend said the proposed evaluation process was trying to fix something that was not broken and his department has had an effective evaluation process for years.

Moran said departments would be permitted to continue using existing methods of evaluation, but for those faculties which did not, they would be asked to start from within the department and work upwards.

Moran assured the faculty members that both teaching and research efforts would be evaluated equally. "I believe the PACFED process is after an equal evaluation and we will make it transparent as far as what is being evaluated."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997