Task force to present findings to Senate

A task force of the ISU Faculty Senate found that non-tenure faculty limitations to be determined by individual departments would be best suited for Iowa State, rather than setting a university-wide quota of non-tenure faculty allowed in each program.

The group announced that the university will leave it to the departments to determine the percent of instruction — determined by number of credit hours — that will be taught by non-tenure eligible faculty at the ISU Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday.

The task force found that because each department is different in its needs for non-tenure-faculty-taught courses and therefore cannot establish standards across the university.

However, there was intense opposition from the senate because of ambiguity regarding how each department would determine the proper percent of non-tenure instruction.

There are no guidelines or standards in place for determining the number because it is left up to the departments to set an non-tenure eligible percent instruction goal.

The senate was skeptical as to how each department is supposed to justify why it would be above or below the determined goal.

The ISU Faculty Senate also discussed an amendment to the handbook regarding removal of faculty members for not performing their duties adequately and to the standards set by Iowa State.

The handbook currently states that faculty members will be removed if they were not adequately performing their duties which includes but is not limited to things like not showing up to class to teach and not participating in faculty committees or boards.

The amendment received intense criticism from many faculty members because it does not explicitly define what is considered adequate performance. Many were concerned that faculty members would be removed from their positions because of prejudices and poor relationships between their departments.


Faculty Senate to discuss task force results

The Faculty Senate will meet to discuss the graduation list, vote on amendment to the faculty handbook, discuss results from the NTE Task Force and to pay respects to departed colleagues.

The most hotly debated subject will be the results from the Task Force to Examine Limits on Non-tenure Eligible Faculty.

The task force is a committee of ISU faculty that are working with AAUP guidelines to regulate faculty positions and to determine whether their guidelines are compatible with the learning environment and standards here at Iowa State.

“These are coming forward not as policy, but as recommendations,” said Faculty Senate President Mike Owen. “The thing we are wanting to do is to make sure that the faculty recognizes that. While some people are rather cynical saying that there is nothing we can do as far as achieving the number for NTE, but we certainly recognize that the cultures of each department are different so they all have very different needs.”

Owen also recognized concerns for colleges like the College of Design and the Greenlee School of Journalism that employ many lecturers who have teaching responsibilities at Iowa State alongside independent professional careers. He stated these faculty members are very important because of the high standards of professionalism and skill of instruction maintained at Iowa State.

“I think it is ignoring the key differences that exist between colleges that basically makes up the fabric of our ability to provide high quality instruction for the students,” Owen said.

In other words, many colleges depend on classes taught by non-tenure eligible faculty because they need experienced professionals.

Owen said there won’t be major changes and people should not be too concerned. Instead, this is an exercise to examine each college and promote discussion between deans and faculty.

“What we are wanting to do is to engage the faculty with administration both at the department level and the college level as to what the university should look like,” Owen said.

The senate will be casting the final vote on the amendment to the faculty handbook to renaming academic units. The amendment did not meet much resistance when it was proposed at the last meeting. It is mainly meant to streamline the process of renaming units after it was moved by a previous amendment.

The senate will also be addressing a new amendment to the faculty handbook regarding “Abandonment of Post.” Owen summarized the policy saying, “Faculty can be dismissed from their post that they were working on explicitly defining the repercussions when faculty members do not fulfill their duties.”

The meeting will take place 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union

New policy threatens non-tenure track faculty

This week, the Faculty Senate debated a new policy that could potentially restructure departments across the university and even eliminate some non-tenure positions.

The policy, slated for vote in December, is based on the findings of The Task Force for Examining the Limits on NTE Faculty, a committee organized by the Faculty Senate, whose purpose is to examine the percentage of non-tenure eligible faculty relative to tenure eligible faculty.

The task force is currently trying to find a way to balance the number of non-tenure with tenured and tenure-eligible faculty members with respect to funding that has been reorganized by the new Resource Management Model. They are currently working to understand and justify the number of non-tenure track positions, especially for departments that fall above the proposed goal of 25 percent.

“What the FDAR and the task force has done … is to provide a vehicle for which we can engage in the discussion as to what is actually going on in the departments and the colleges with regard to our tenure eligible faculty,” said Micheal Owen, professor of agronomy and president of Faculty Senate.

The 25 percent goal is based on standards determined by the American Association of University Professors and from 11 other peer institutions. However, some faculty members criticize the goal as an arbitrary number that has no practical application because it is unrealistic for many departments.

“The task force never really knew if these numbers made any sense. They’re just the recommendation of the AAUP,” said John Mayfield, professor of genetics, development and cell biology and former member of the task force.

The task force found that the NTE’s needs vary greatly from department to department, so they plan to shift focus to individual departments, rather than setting university standards, to understand what changes need to be made or whether the goal is unrealistic.

“Clearly a number of departments are [more than] 25 percent, and we don’t know as a Faculty Senate what’s going on, and in some cases, it makes very good sense for it to be at a certain level because actually the expertise is at a different level. That should become evident as the responsibility statements go forward,” said Ann Smiley-Oyen, associate professor of kinesiology and presenting member of the task force.

The new plan states that in order to determine whether or not a department is meeting their goals, the deans of colleges will issue a report called a responsibility statement every three years that will defend why they have not met their goal for NTE positions.

Many senate members were skeptical of the new system and some even went as far as to call it an exercise in futility. Their argument was that if a significant amount of departments cannot meet the guidelines, then this is simply a waste of paperwork.

“There are a lot of departments in this university that cannot meet these guidelines, or if they did so, being a faculty member in that department would not be worth being a faculty member. Wouldn’t it be better to make it public why we’re in this situation?” Mayfield said.

Another criticism is that if we are following AAUP then we should adhere to all of their guidelines, which would make many NTE positions into tenure track positions to make the process easier.

“We’re not sure how this is all going to work out. I would suspect that in some departments this is going to be a smoother process than in other departments and colleges, but at least its a start to get the discussions going and there may be some friction between departments and deans,” Smiley-Oyen said.

One solution Smiley-Oyen later pointed out was that in order to decrease non-tenure eligible faculty, professors would simply have to teach more classes and spend less time doing research.

Faculty senate to discuss evaluation, curriculum

The Faculty Senate will be discussing additions and revisions to the faculty handbook Tuesday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. It will be addressing section 5.7, which deals with faculty evaluation and reviewing and proposing a new section.

The new section, 2.8, deals with renaming academic units. It’s intended to replace section 10.8 that was previously removed when the entire section was amended last spring. The change last April was intended to clarify the process of changing, adding and removing curriculum.

The senate is made up of a system of 82 total representatives elected by the general faculty and divided into seven caucuses making up each college.

The senate conducts its business through five committees and the executive board, made up of five councils and the chairpersons of the seven college caucuses and officers.

Branstad proposes big ideas for Iowa

The Governor-elect Terry Branstad (R) has big plans for Iowa businesses.

His first priority is to attract jobs and keep them in Iowa. He plans to begin implementing his aggressive five-step plan to revitalize the declining Iowa job market and make it easier for small businesses to get off the ground. However, he did not provide any specific timeline for the plan.

Overall, Branstad plans to increase exports by 20 percent during the next five years to create 13,000 new jobs. This would require an increase of $1.8 billion to a total of $9 billion in exports to create 12,600 new jobs.

Branstad said he will revitalize Iowan business by providing K-12 entrepreneurship education, tax credits for startup business and decrease corporate property tax.

“We need to make it easier to start businesses in our state,” Branstad said. “We also need to restructure the department of economic development so we can have an effective public-private partnership.”

He also plans to give a 50 percent tax credit to businesses that pay tuition and offer jobs to college students. Aside from helping to alleviate student debt, by giving the tax credit to businesses, Branstad said that by 2015, Iowa will be graduating more than 5,000 students a year with technical degrees. He believes they will stay in Iowa and contribute to the consumer economy.

Branstad created a plan called Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress in order to promote private-public relationships and market Iowa business both nationally and globally.

“We have a lot of plans for it,” Branstad said. “We’re going to put our team together and hit the ground running.”

Part of IPEP provides for an organization called IGNITE, which will be teams of economic development professionals to work with companies across the state.

IGNITE stands for:

• Initiate contacts with employers in all sectors of Iowa’s economy to visit with them about barriers that exist which are hindering their ability to grow and what programs are available from the state to assist them in employing more Iowans.

• Gaining new job-creating opportunities by contacting prospective employers and site selection professionals, be it across the country or globally.

• Negate the declining image employers nationwide have developed of Iowa during the past 4 years, and let them know Iowa is once again open for business.

• Involve existing Iowa employers in a peer-to-peer global marketing campaign.

• Target immediately industries where Iowa is poised for growth, such as advanced manufacturing, value added agriculture, insurance and financial services.

• Energize the Iowa economic development community with strong, committed leadership from the Governor and a focused mission.

Truncation of Branstad’s Ready To Market: IGNITE and INET

Branstad also hopes implement a plan called Iowa Network of Entrepreneurial Transplants to attract Iowans who have left the state in search of better business opportunities. INET will “identify key former Iowans in targeted businesses and industries around the country and the world, and create a network of former Iowans in order to broaden the connections and abilities of his program,” Branstad said.

“We also need to have new leadership there, professional developers that will work with the business community to really help us effectively market and sell Iowa,” Branstad said. “There’s a lot of things I want to do.”

Newcomer Findlay challenges 28-year incumbent attorney general

Newcomer Brenna Findley (R) is challenging incumbent Tom Miller (D) for Iowa attorney general in this year’s general election. The Iowa attorney general is an elected office of four-year terms that are decided by popular election.

Iowa Code defines the attorney general as “provides legal counsel and direction to the state by participation in cases before the courts where the state has an interest and by formulating written opinions to state officers and county attorneys on questions of state law of public importance.”

An attorney general is the chief legal advisor to the state and chief law enforcement officer. The attorney general also represents the state and its officers in criminal and juvenile court, along with representing consumers in utility rate cases.

Miller has been Iowa attorney general since 1978, excluding between 1991 and 1994, when he had unsuccessfully run for governor. In his period out of office, he briefly returned to private practice and was succeeded by Bonnie Campbell (D).

Miller is an Iowa native who, after graduating from Harvard Law School, worked for the nonprofit law firm Baltimore Legal Aid, and taught part-time at Maryland School of Law. He later returned to Iowa to become city attorney for Marquette and McGregor, and soon was elected to Iowa attorney general .

Miller is a fierce advocate against crime and works for victim compensation and improvement in the juvenile justice system. He also established the nation’s first Farm Division in an attorney general’s office in order to protect farms against large agribusinesses and insulate them from crop and seed failure.

He will be campaigning for the remaining days until the election and is expecting favorable results for next week’s polls.

“I feel good about the election. I think we’ve run a good campaign. I feel like the office has served Iowans well,” Miller said.

However, he still has plans to continue his work to investigate the recent foreclosures, protect consumers and to prevent crimes and fraud against the elderly.

“In my view, it’s just a huge unfinished agenda for me and my office,” he said. “I think we can do for Iowans … things we’ve never done before. There’s an awful lot to be done and I hope to get the chance do it.”

Miller’s strongest criticism against his opponent was her minimal experience as a practicing attorney and extensive involvement in partisan politics. He was proud of his time in office and emphasized the importance of non-partisanship and honesty he worked to promote.

Findley is also an Iowa native with Midwestern values. She graduated from Drake University, and later the University of Chicago Law School where she worked with aspiring entrepreneurs and volunteered at the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship.

She is currently working in private practice and has previously served as chief of staff under Congressman Steve King (R).

Findley was not available for comment.

Opportunity for constitutional convention presents once in a decade opportunity

This year’s general election presents voters with the opportunity to hold a constitutional convention, which would allow expedited and direct amendments to the Constitution and would give many failed bills a second chance.

When voters flock to the polls for this year’s general election, they will see a new field on the back of the ballot that they may not be familiar with. It’s titled, “Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?”

This is an option that occurs every 10 years that gives voters the opportunity to vote for the convention.

A constitutional convention has not occurred during the entire 164 years since Iowa was admitted to the union in 1846 and has only been permitted by the Iowa Constitution since 1970. The last attempt to hold a convention was in 2000, and was overruled with a vote of only 32 percent in favor of the convention. This year could be Iowa’s first constitutional convention.

According to Article X, Section 1 of the Iowa Constitution, in order for a standard amendment to the Constitution to be passed, it must be presented to either house of the Iowa general assembly and pass through both houses with a majority of votes.

The bill is then placed on the ballot for the next general or special election and voted on by Iowa residents.

However, a constitutional convention is a very different process. The convention is made up of a committee of delegates who are appointed by legislature that discuss and amend bills before passing them onto voters in a general or special election.

This allows approved bills to skip the long and difficult process of making it through both houses, which can take four years or more, and go directly to voters.

“You could presumably have voters say yes to the convention on the ballot,” said Richard Johnson, legal services director for the Legislative Services Agency.

“If so, it could potentially be on a special election next fall,” he said in reference to bills approved by the convention.

Although possible topics and bills for the convention have not yet been specified, many political and religious groups are hoping to give a few failed bills a second chance.

One bill that is the subject of intense debate is a bill titled House Joint Resolution 6.

It reads, “Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.”

If this bill were to be passed, it would overturn the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the controversial court case, Varnum v. Brien.

The bill, HJR6, was initially introduced to state legislators in February 2009. The bill was sent to committee, but failed to be approved and did not make it to the House floor. It was resubmitted in February 2010 when the motion to address and amend the resolution failed once again.

However, because the topics of the constitutional convention are not limited to exclude previously failed bills, it could return.

“The contents of this resolution [HJR6] could be proposed in the constitutional convention as one of the results that could go to voters,” Johnson said.

A constitutional convention is not limited to any specific bills or issues and can address many possible amendments.

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