Complications w/ voting in the UA Faculty Poll

Problems with UA's faculty poll?
Problems with UA's faculty poll?

There have been numerous complaints that the faculty poll sent out Friday to gauge satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the University of Arizona administration was not received by all faculty and that those who got it had problems voting. In our never-ending search for truth, God Blogging made a few phone calls and read up on the Faculty Governance Constitution to discern what might be happening. Here’s the skinny.

  1. The poll was developed by the faculty leaders who signed the e-mail announcing the poll, then it was coded and mounted on UA’s Employee Link portal by the good folks in the UA Faculty Center and their tech geek consultants. (All hail tech geek people!)
  2. The e-mail announcing the poll and encouraging people to vote went out on the allFaculty listserv. As noted on the Faculty Center’s Web site, the purpose of the listserv “is to enable your elected Faculty Officers (the Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary of the Faculty) to communicate quickly with all faculty when we feel that a particular item of information is URGENT, BRIEF, and of interest to a MAJORITY OF THE FACULTY.” (Emphasis theirs, not mine.)
  3. Problems arose from this e-mailing because not all faculty are on the allFaculty listserv and, more importantly, not all faculty are voting members in University governance matters.

    Let’s look at these issues separately. The allFaculty listserv is incomplete because some faculty have opted-out of the listserv, maybe thinking they’d be awash in e-mail from faculty officers, even though most of the e-mails sent from the listserv are of the urgent and brief variety, ala: “WASH YOUR HANDS SO YOU DON’T GIVE YOUR FACULTY LEADERS THE SWINE FLU!”or “OUR FOOTBALL TEAM IS NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK!” (Emphasis definitely mine.)

    The second reason the listserv is incomplete is because the only way the Faculty Center knows to take someone off the list or put someone on is if that faculty member or that faculty member’s department head/college dean notifies the staff at the Faculty Center. This, of course, doesn’t always happen, what with research and teaching and paranoia about workload models.

    Ergo, for those UA faculty who think there’s a conspiracy keeping them off the listserv and thus out of the voting ranks, I’m here to say there is no such thing. There’s just a lack of communication, which everyone knows is the root of all relationship problems. If you are not getting allFaculty e-mails, contact the Faculty Center and get on the list.

    Regarding the poll not working once faculty members got into the Employee Link portal, I’ve got some bad news: If you don’t see a “Vote Now” button on your screen when you get there, you are not a member of the “General Faculty” in terms of university governance and thus, don’t get to vote. Here, direct to you from the Constitution of the General Faculty (drum roll, please) is the definition of voting faculty member:

    Section 1: For purposes of University government, the General Faculty of The University of Arizona is composed of:

    1. Faculty members who hold half-time or more tenured or tenure-eligible appointments,
    2. Academic professionals who hold half-time or more continuing or continuing- eligible appointments,
    3. Lecturers (including Senior and Principal Lecturers) holding half-time or more multi-year appointments,
    4. Clinical professors, research professors and professors of practice holding half-time or more multi-year appointments,
    5. Such persons in categories (a), (b), (c) and (d) who hold Emeritus status.

    Section 2. No candidate for a degree at the University of Arizona shall be a member of the General Faculty.

    Section 3. This membership provision shall become effective upon approval by the President.

    Section 4. Members of the General Faculty are eligible to vote in matters of faculty governance and to hold offices and to serve on committees established in accordance with this Constitution.

    Confusion may arise from this because all faculty, regardless of status, might get a vote at a departmental or college-level meeting and naturally think he/she should get to vote in the most popular and controversial poll at UA in recent memory. But, au contraire, ’tis not so. You have to fit into one of the above classifications for university-wide governance votes, such as voting for Faculty Senate or voting re: confidence in UA administration.

    According to the most recent UA Factbook (2008-09), there 2,854 Faculty members on campus. There are also 2,956 “academic and service professionals,” some of whom might have voting rights (see #2 above). Doing the math you get 5,810 people, many of whom might consider themselves faculty but don’t meet the above university governance criteria. According to Faculty Center statistics, there are only about 2,000 active faculty members qualified as “General Faculty” for purposes of voting, as well as 600 emeritus faculty who have university governance voting rights.

    So come Monday, when the poll results are released, remember these numbers because it means that fewer than 3,000 people of the 14,663 UA employees will be deciding if President Robert N. Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay have the confidence of those they seek to lead at UA.

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