Downtown campus walking

People walk by Clark Hall located on WVU's downtown campus.

Last week, WVU’s Faculty Senate held an assembly to allow all faculty to vote on the revised procedures for appointment, annual evaluation, promotion and tenure. 

A total of 715 votes were cast, while 494 were in opposition to the document. 

Faculty Senate chair Scott Wayne said in an email sent to faculty that he will be working with the Provost’s Office over the next few weeks to “determine next steps.”

“The Office, they're committed to continuing to work with faculty to eventually get a document that both sides agree. So we'll probably sit down with [Provost Maryanne Reed] probably next week or within the next couple of weeks, and kind of talk about the next step,” he said in an interview with The Daily Athenaeum.

“It could potentially be a committee of faculty that works with her team. It could be within the faculty senate again. But there's still a commitment to work together and ultimately get a revised set of procedures.”

The Procedures for Appointment, Annual Evaluation, Promotion and Tenure document was first proposed last semester as part of the University’s “academic transformation.”

The office of the provost then held dozens of town halls and opened up the document for comments online. 

Many faculty members were concerned that the document’s proposed change to faculty evaluation for renewal of tenure could affect their academic freedom. 

The office responded by making several revisions to the document to ease the controversy.

Some faculty members who spoke during the debating period of the assembly, however, were not convinced that the document had been changed enough. 

One of the concerns was with the description of procedures that allows tenured faculty members to be recommended for non-continuation. 

Associate Professor Matthew Jacobsmeier presented data arguing that West Virginia University is not aligned with other Big 12 universities in terms of its non-continuation policy if the document were adopted. 

More specifically, if adopted, WVU would be the only school in the conference that would not allow for a hearing if a faculty member were recommended for the termination process.

WVU would also require post-tenure reviews every year, while most Big 12 schools, according to Jacobsmeier, conduct reviews every five to seven years with multi-year improvement periods for faculty. The new document would not provide these extended periods for change. 

Another concern was with the requirement of having an external review to be promoted to an associate professor, as this requirement was not necessary before the document. 

Ultimately, the document was voted down.

Wayne said that, once the revised version of the document is released, the faculty senate will have a chance to vote on it again, unless there is another petition to allow the full faculty to hold a vote. 

West Virginia Campus Workers posted a tweet last Friday, saying they are ready to “meet the challenge” should they need to protect their due process and academic freedom again.