Resolution on Faculty Information Systems (FIS) / Faculty Evaluation

[to be introduced at April 21 Senate meeting]

Whereas the Senate recognizes the potential benefits of updating and digitizing processes for faculty evaluation, especially for tenure and promotion review,  

Whereas all issues related to faculty evaluation must be developed with meaningful and substantive faculty participation, and the decision to implement a Faculty Information System (FIS) was not one in which faculty has had meaningful participation in the full range of issues raised from the start,  

Whereas as noted by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP): “It is the obligation of the administration and governing board to observe the principle, enunciated in the Association’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, that the faculty exercises primary responsibility for faculty status and thus the faculty is the appropriate body to take a leadership role in designing additional procedures for the evaluation of faculty peers,”  

Whereas, at minimum, meaningful consultation in this instance demands participation of appropriate Senate committees, and upon their recommendations, the full senate, 

Whereas “data justice” must be established in the design, management, circulation, and access to the datafication of faculty evaluation, so that information is produced and analyzed equitably with regard to both disciplinary differences, and to racialized and gendered hierarchies of academic value [cf, e.g., Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, NYU Press, 2018],  

Whereas many faculty are concerned that the Board of Trustees may be promoting the datafication of faculty performance as a way to amplify the voice of Trustees in faculty evaluation, when Members of the Board of Trustees as such are not qualified, and no Trustee is mandated, to assess whether a faculty member has earned the status of tenure or promotion, or to evaluate faculty performance [cf., the AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities],

Whereas Peer review is central to the assessment of faculty performance, and a core function of faculty governance,

Whereas the Senate is concerned about how the data collected by the proposed FIS will be used, by whom, and with what faculty recourse, Be it resolved that the Senate of Syracuse University does not endorse the current Faculty Information System selection and implementation process, and urges more thorough, campus-wide faculty participation. The current process must pause so that faculty can be generally informed about the rationale for, and goals of, the proposed digitalization, and, crucially, so that safeguards concerning use of data can be set in place before the selection of “vendor” occurs.  This matter should be referred to the Agenda Committee of the Senate to assign to a committee, or committees, as it deems appropriate, before any action is taken.

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