Faculty senate discusses contract issues in April meeting

Dan McDonald, chair of Art and Design, addresses concerns over department chair compensation.

Faculty Senate met in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Dwight Schar College of Education and discussed concerns over the examinations of faculty contracts and summer pay for department chairs in this month’s meeting on Friday, April 14.

Ashland University faculty covered a variety of subjects during the April 14 meeting, but a contract issue created a cause for concern among several faculty members. Professor of Mathematics Gordon Swain opened by giving readings of proposed Faculty Rules and Regulations changes, but turned the discussion toward a potential issue with faculty contracts.

“The standard process was that you get an email that somebody has your contract, you go and pick up a paper copy, not in triplicate, sign it, keep a copy, and return it,” Swain began. “But not to the President’s office, but to HR it appears.”

Faculty Senate members immediately pointed out that FRR states that contract copies must go through the President’s Office. Swain followed up, however, by stating, “FRR says the President’s Office, but I don’t know. Is this wrong to send it to the President’s Office?”

Dr. Diane Bonfiglio, chair of Psychology and Social Work and Family Studies, added to the discussion and noted that the contract itself reflects what is written in FRR.

“I happened to be down in HR this afternoon and a few faculty were grading their contracts there because they took them to the President’s Office and people there stated they would just take them down [to HR] anyway, so you might as well take them down there yourself,” Swain added.

Swain’s words caused audible concerns from Faculty Senate members, who began to comment about the situation.

Chair of Mathematics and Computer Science Christopher Swanson read a question from Zoom asking, “There was a question whether the chair contracts have the release time because there have been on contracts in the past but not this year.”

Bonfiglio reciprocated this observation, noting, “Mine did not [say department chair], and it did not have a note about summer pay.”

Faculty senate members then began asking whether their contracts noted of particular members were listed as department chairs, and Dr. Dan McDonald, chair of Art and Design, expressed concerns over the issue at hand.

“Contracts tend to come partially signed to me,” McDonald said. “I’m not the first person to sign that contract. So who is messing this up? Who is not checking to see what actually goes on the contract when they get sent out for us only to figure out there’s an error later, and we have to deal with it?”

AU Provost Dr. Amiel Jarstfer responded, “The deans have indeed reviewed those contracts. There is not a place for them to initial or sign off on the contract. The Provost has seen them as well. I believe the desire was to take some of that variance off of the contract and have it in a memorandum of all the things. The question is whether that is consistent across all of the colleges, and I do not know that it is. What I am hearing is that it is not consistent.”

McDonald concluded that department chairs were not compensated for summer work despite their contracts stating that they would.