Students sit on committees to promote faculty at the U of C.
the Gauntlet

Students judge faculty promotion

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While students may stress over endless exams and papers, professors confront their own fears when it's time to face the faculty promotions committee.

The Students' Union recently changed the way in which students participate in this often controversial subject. Each faculty has their own committee on which a student helps decide who should be most recommended for a possible promotion.

SU vice-president academic Brittany Sargent is happy with the new process of choosing students to sit on the committees.

"The students that are on faculty promotions committees, in the past, would have been picked by the dean," explained Sargent. "The recent changes to the faculty of promotions guidelines at the university level requires that the students that sit on these committees have been elected by their peers."

Students can be elected by having an executive position in a club or the SU itself.

"I think it's really important that who sits on that committee has some sort of accountability or responsibility to the students that are in their faculty," said Sargent.

The University of Calgary Faculty Association president Anne Stalker pointed out that involvement of students in the promotion of faculty members has been a contentious issue in the past.

"We think that the students bring a valuable perspective and that they certainly ensure that teaching is recognized within the process," said Stalker. "Although I have to admit that we have had concerns that some students have not been well prepared or do not thoroughly understand their role on the committee but we believe that something was being done to address that."

Stalker also explained that while a member of TUCFA is present at committee meetings to protect the rights of the faculty, they can only provide an opinion and not vote on any decisions being made.

Sargent plays an important role in helping to train students and other members of the faculty promotions committee. Each student undergoes four hours of lessons that differ for each faculty before they can be involved.

"The SU this year worked quite closely with Human Resources to put together training," said Sargent. "What weight research gets and what weight teaching gets and what weight service gets. Usually it's about 40-40-20; that's a general formula the university uses."

After training, committee members look at dossiers that faculty associates put together with all of the work they've done in the past two years and give out a number of increments depending on the suggested value of the work. Stalker explained that each faculty is given a limited number of increments and so some faculty members may receive less than others even if their work has been excellent.

"As a comparative process, it's a little problematic," said Stalker. "We will receive comments from individual people but generally the merit process does cause a certain amount of disquiet [and] a certain amount of concern."