Policy Board Minutes – 30 Aug 2017
3:30-5 p.m.

Malloy Hall 230

PB members: Nola Agha, Rachel Brahinsky, Brandon Brown, Robin Buccheri, Fernando Comiran, Jennifer Dever, Doreen Ewert, Joe Garity, Candice Harrison, EJ Jung, Dorothy Kidd, Gabe Maxson, Elliot Neaman, Mary Jane Niles, Meera Nosek, Julia Orri, Sonya Poole,, Steve Roddy, Calla Schmidt, Claire Sharifi, Betty Taylor, Brian Weiner 


  1.   Neaman welcomed the new PB Representatives
  2.   Trustees Dinner: Neaman explained that this is an annual event in which Policy Board Reps meet with members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. This will be held September 15 at 6pm. Members should have received the invitation by email.
  3.   New Faculty Dinner October 28 at Foreign Cinema. Neaman said that he will be sending a welcome letter to all new full-time faculty in which he will announce this, and will then follow up with invitations.
  4.   Lump Sum Dues: Johnson explained that he will be sending out the lump sum information on September 6th, and that faculty intending to pay by lump sum will be asked to let him know by mid-September, and that the payment will be due October 1.


  1. New Business


  1.     Open forum—
  2.   Rebecca Mason (Philosophy; Arts and Sciences) had two questions about the contract and the payment schedule. She asked why were returning faculty members not informed that Payroll was not going to shift the pay schedule to begin in August 2017, as written in the new contract, and why did the USFFA leadership breach the contract in this matter? She explained that those who do not defer pay were expecting salary on August 26th, and that those who do defer pay should have received both their August pay for the past year as well as their first paycheck on the new schedule. This caused big problems for a number of faculty.Buccheri noted that the main goal of the new policy was for new faculty to be paid in August, which did occur this year.Neaman said that USF payroll was unable to complete the change in time for the rest of our members because of protracted negotiations. He said that this was not a breach of contract since both sides can adjust implementation schedules by mutual consent, but he agreed that the faculty should have been notified when the change was made and apologized for not having done so earlier in the summer. (Note: the new pay schedule for returning faculty will go into effect in August 2018, but faculty can always opt for the non-deferred 10 month option, by which means the entire annual salary is paid by June of each academic year).


Poole asked about faculty observing other faculty in the classroom, in SOM called “peer coaching”. Is this possibly a contract violation? For example, what is the purpose of this process, where would the “Class Visit Worksheet” that is distributed be filed, and could they possibly impact promotion and tenure? Upon further discussion, it was noted that this was initiated by the Associate Deans in the School. Johnson said this was a legitimate concern. Neaman said that conditions may have to be stipulated in writing before the use of written evaluations. Poole asked who keeps the documents? Dever added that the CTE already has a system in place. She said that the peers are trained. Taylor asked who initiated this? Johnson said that the associate deans initiated the class visits. Neaman said we would need more information to know whether this fell under management rights to create and distribute the worksheets, but peer review (or “coaching”) by colleagues certainly would have to be done on a voluntary basis. We should make this an agenda item. Poole said she would suggest that those working on this process consult with CTENeaman will talk to administration about this.

  1.     Recusal policyNeaman.

Jung said that clarity on the recusal issue needs to be made prior to Sept. 15, the filing date for tenure and/or promotion applications. Neaman said that a memo had gone out on June 27, 2017 stating categorically that for the academic year 2017-18 no recusal requests will be accepted by the USFFA Executive Board. This is different than last year, when the recusal requests were based on past practice. He said that last year’s two recusal requests were handled like others in the recent past, in one case from 2010 and in another from 2015. In the 2010 case the applicant notified the Executive Board of a mutually agreed-upon recusal because the peer reviewer had a family connection to the applicant, and in the 2015 case, the applicant requested the recusal because of prior personal conflicts with the peer review committee member. In that case the peer review member agreed to abstain from participating in the deliberations or voting on the application. Because of the problems that occurred last year with the recusal requests, the Executive Board decided this year to not allow any recusal requests until a new, written policy is enacted. The Executive Board will send out another statement about the current recusal policy before Sept. 15.

Brown said that in his opinion there are 3 options for moving forward on a recusal policy : (A) leave alone, i.e make no policy (B) create written guidelines based on conflict of interest guidelines, or (C) Create a Task Force to study the issue. He was in favor of (B), which would be simple and voluntary. Neaman said that our lawyer mentioned something similar. Weiner said that one possibility to implement option (B) would be if every member of the PRC were to receive a form informing them of the conditions under which a recusal would be expected. Weiner added that our attorney suggested that the language of the guideline could be similar to the instructions provided for citizens serving on jury duty. Questions arose as to whether the form should or should not be signed. Maxson asked if there could be a grievance were a member of the peer review committee to not sign such a form. Niles did not favor a signed document. Jung asked if the grievance procedure was enough to take care of any T&P issues. Agha added that the conflict of interest idea was for the peer review members to make a statement at the beginning of the process. Brown suggested any recusal request go to the chair of the PR committees. He added that there could be a simple PDF with conflict-of-interest guidelines. Jung said that the process seems redundant—we have a grievance process already. Neaman said that as an analogy to the questionnaire received by juries, it is an extra step that enables a committee member to consider possible reasons why there may be a reason to abstain. Weiner said that this new form could lead to the reduction of the number of grievances. Neaman added that the word “abstain” could be used instead if “recusal” is loaded. Nosek was supportive of the comments by Jung and Brown, as a former new member of a PRC. Maxson asked again if there are any contractual issues with such a form. 

Roddy said that Brown’s proposal (B) was similar to what the various current and former PRC members advocated at PB meetings in the spring, all of whom voiced concerns about the problems over recusal requests through the Executive Board in 2016-17. He suggested following Brown’s advice and resolve the issue prior to 15 Sept. Schmidt was concerned about cases in which a peer review member does not voluntarily recuse her or himself. Niles said that recusal should be voluntary. Neaman added that there has never been a forced recusal ever, in any of the cases that have come before the USFFA. The notion that one can “cherry pick” the members of the PR committees is not based on any historical facts. Kidd said that reminding people about bias and conflict of interest is a positive, and she did not favor forced recusal in any case either. Kidd added that member to member conflicts need to be discussed, in addition to equity training. She further added that USF has grown a lot in terms of ethnic and class diversity—we need to know what the policies are going forward. Kidd said that USF used to be a kind of “mom and pop” university but we have now grown much larger and more complicated since then. Johnson III agreed about having a bias statement, but noted that it would have no teeth unless people signed off on it. He added that attending the New Faculty Orientation meeting in August, he was disappointed that there are no new faculty who are African American. Taylor supported the comments made by Kidd. She added that emotional literacy should be added to any sort of training.

Neaman suggested tabling the Conflict of Interest issue for the next meeting, in order to deal with the other items on the agenda Johnson III added that faculty in the SOM are tired of hearing about the recusal issue and want to move on. Maxson reiterated Roddy’s earlier point that current and former PRC members have repeatedly voiced concerns about EB’s involvement in last year’s recusal requests. Harrison questioned the authority of the Executive Board to intervene in recusal issues at all. Agha reminded PB that Brown has offered 3 proposals. Can we vote on them?

Brown’s proposals:

(A)  Take no action, which means leave as is  (B) Create a simple conflict of interest statement to clarify that the PRC committees  own the recusal process, which would clarify that recusal is a voluntary act of committee member and that outside groups (other committees or bodies, be they departments, administrative units, or the Executive Board cannot intervene in this process (the process by which a committee member decides whether or not to recuse herself or himself); (C) initiate a Task Force or Sub-Committee to handle recusals as they come up.

Neaman suggested a straw poll on B. Poole said that the process was muddled here, since we are not following Roberts Rules of Order.

Dever made a motion to explore B, as a basis for discussion. The vote was 20-0 in favor of “B”.

Kidd suggested some new procedures for PB, for example that the chair should be rotated, so that more voices were heard.

Weiner said that the next step is for Brown to forward the B proposal to the EB and for them to distribute it to the PB as a basis for discussion.

Neaman said we should table the issue until Brown has distributed his statement.

Neaman also added that we have invited the provost to PB. He asked whether the PB supported inviting the provost to attend a meeting on 13 Sept or later? Kidd suggested a conversation beforehand to prepare questions. We agreed to wait until the last meeting of the semester to invite the Provost to attend.

A question was raised regarding the annual funding of the Sister Elene Egan Fund, established to honor our long-time treasurer. The fund provides scholarship funding for our students. The fund has reached $77K. We have supported the fund with 5K annual contributions in recent years. Brahinsky said that the fund sounded very worthy but suggested that we need to make the budget transparent first. She asked that the PB have access to our full annual budget first, so we can vote with this context in mind. Neaman said that we follow the policies of our founders, in which our finances are audited every year and the audits are placed in the library and more recently on our website http://www.usffa.net/legal/financial-statements/.

A forward-looking budget is possible, but many of our costs are fixed. The majority of our members’ dues goes straight to the CFT. The other items are the same every year except for items that can not be known in advance, for example legal costs related to grievances. Weiner reminded the PB that we had a major federal audit in 2013 and the annual audits may be found on our website. Taylor asked about whether there should be a line item on our budget for equity issues. Neaman asked whether or not we should stick to the proposal to see the budget first? Poole replied that she was asking for a line, not a specific amount. Kidd said that budgeting should be part of the overall planning process of the policy board.  

  1.     New Year—Neaman.  

Garity said the librarians would like to discuss open access at a future PB. In 2013, the PB voted to encourage faculty to contribute their publications to the USF Library Scholarship Repository. Charlotte Roh, the Gleeson Scholarly Communication Librarian, would like to discuss with PB enhancing that policy.

Weiner will ask for members for the Post-Sabbatical Merit Award Committee.

Neaman reminded the PB on the minutes process—they will be distributed via email and edited as needed on Google Docs.

Poole made a motion to include a line item for policy board development in the budget. The vote was in favor: 22-1-0.

The meeting was adjourned at 17:05.

Submitted by Julia Orri

USFFA Secretary