What to do if your department is merged

I am in one of the departments that may be affected by departmental reorganization within USF. My dean has called a meeting with my department for this afternoon, and I strongly suspect that we will be merging with another department. The faculty in both departments have made their preferences known, as has our dean to the provost, but I suspect we’re merging anyway. There are some important practical matters after merger to pay attention to, and this is solely about those practical matters.

Transitions on annual evaluations: faculty have the right under Article 10 to be evaluated every year under procedures and disciplinary criteria that department employees approved by vote. When departments merge, the annual evaluation policies for the component units will almost certainly be different, and department faculty have at least three choices:

  • Draft an entirely new set of evaluation procedures.
  • Adopt one of the former department’s procedures as the procedure for the entire unit, entirely or with slight modifications.
  • Vote to treat faculty from the former departments separately and under the former procedures of their former departments for a transition period, until there is time to craft a unified set of procedures.

If my department is merged, as I suspect, I will recommend the last option to my current and future colleagues; we don’t need to be spending our time and energy on something when we can agree on a transitional framework that will last us for a year or so.

Tenure and promotion issues: The bottom line for the chapter is that reorganization should not force tenure-track faculty to educate a new batch of colleagues about their work at the department/unit level. At a consultation between the UFF-USF chapter and the administration Tuesday, the administration agreed to written, binding agreements so that tenure-track faculty could retain continuity of colleagues for T&P evaluation purposes. The devil’s in the details, and the chapter will be looking after those details for any affected tenure-track faculty.

Summer teaching opportunities. The common expectation of both UFF and the USF administration is that each unit has an explicit set of procedures on offering teaching opportunities (covered under Article 8). Merging departments will not be able to address the transition in the same way as for annual evaluations, and it is important that faculty in any merged units talk in the summer and craft a single policy in the fall, well before summer 2009 comes around.

Other governance issues. While most other departmental governance issues are outside the collective bargaining agreement, merged units will also need to figure out how to handle governance. In some cases (as in course/program approval processes), transitional arrangements with minimal disruption may be possible.

Have more questions on practical issues? E-mail me!


Comments are closed.