The Faculty Senate committee that hears grievances held elections months later than normal this year.
The delay was caused by revisions to the Faculty Manual and difficulty in finding a candidate to fill the final seat of the committee, according to current Faculty Senate Chair Leigh Riddick. The final seat was filled two weeks ago.
The late formation did not have anything to do with any particular grievance, Riddick said in an e-mail. It is always difficult to find faculty to sit on the committee.
Three professors were denied tenure last spring, and at least two have filed grievances.
The committee is comprised of seven members who serve three-year terms, which are staggered so that only a few seats come up for election every year.
Only one vacancy appeared on the committee for the current year, but all seven members must be appointed before the committee can officially exist and conduct business, said Scott Parker, former chair of the committee.
The tenure appeal and grievance process was addressed at last week’s town hall meeting with AU President Neil Kerwin and Board of Trustee Chairman Gary Abramson.
Students at the meeting asked Kerwin to address the grievance of Professor Jesus “Manny” Berard, AU’s orchestra director who was denied tenure in May.
Kerwin would not address the specific case, but instead spoke on the overall tenure and appeals process.
“As the final authority in a case of appeal, I have to maintain not only my objectivity in the matter, but I have to ensure the file on which I’m basing my decision is consistent with existing University regulations,” he said.
Kerwin said he would pay “very, very close attention” to any file directed to him.
If the committee agrees to hear an appeal, it then writes a report. The report is then forwarded to Kerwin.
Kerwin does not have the power to directly appoint or remove faculty from positions at the University.
“I’m a firm believer that this process [has] worked to the great advantage of this University in most of the cases I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Is it infallible? Of course not. That’s what the appeals process is for.”
Staff writers Paige Jones and Stefanie Dazio contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the role of the Faculty Senate. The grievance committee, once it agrees to consider an appeal, hears it and writes a report about the case. The report then is sent to President Neil Kerwin. The Faculty Senate is not involved.