After meeting last week, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization has voiced concerns regarding the University’s alleged failure to comply with certain provisions established in the contract laid out last June and has established tomorrow as a deadline for the University to respond.

The central focus of the meeting was what LEO considers the University’s lack of cooperation in presenting the criteria used when evaluating lecturers and considering them for another year of employment — an agreement made in last summer’s contract.

The contract states that each college within the University will be responsible for creating the criteria used when hiring new lecturers, promoting them or deciding on renewals of current lecturers, LEO President Bonnie Halloran said.

She added that the University is in violation of this policy because it should have provided lecturers with the criteria last semester.

She said that various departments in some of the colleges have provided criteria for performance reviews, but overall, the colleges have not provided the necessary information.

“We have been talking with the administration for the last three months, once a week, asking for this criteria,” Halloran said. “They tell us one week it’s coming, then the next week it’s still coming, and the next week it’s still coming.”

But drawing up the new criteria is proving to be a more difficult task than was previously thought said University spokeswoman Julie Peterson.

Under the new contract, the University is required to appoint lecturers a title through an evaluation process set up by individual departments. These titles would essentially act as promotions, bestowing the lecturer benefits according to that title, Peterson said.

With the staff of University lecturers numbering at around 1,300 — many of whom have worked at the University for a varying number of years — developing the criteria and allocating all the instructors to an appropriate title will take more time than was originally estimated during last year’s negotiations, Peterson said.

“I understand it is causing some frustration, and we are working together with the departments, because it is something that has to be done with the departments and can’t be done centrally,” Peterson said.

Despite the obstacles, Peterson said the University continues to work toward the goal of evaluating all the lecturers currently employed by the University and assigning them to their respective title within the three-year time frame required by the contract.

As of now, LEO has received criteria for evaluations from only the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the Residential College, Halloran said.

She added that the level of lecturer input in determining performance criteria has varied across departments.

“We have departments like Sweetland and (the English Language Institute) where there are a large percentage of lecturers who actually have been involved in the development of the criteria,” she said.

At its recent meeting, LEO discussed the possibility of taking further action, as well as a deadline tomorrow for the University to provide performance criteria and the list of lecturers to be reviewed.

LEO also voted on evaluation matters, voting to insist that evaluations by colleagues be given primary weight over student evaluations, and to authorize the Contract Implementation Committee supplemented by volunteers to develop a more detailed LEO proposal and negotiate it with the University.

RC Slavic studies lecturer Alina Makim agreed that there needs to be more value placed on colleague evaluations.

“One thing I absolutely want to see is to have lecturers evaluated by peers,” Makim said, adding that peer evaluations are highly important because they are in the same positions and have a common understanding of working in a classroom.

But some disagreed, placing peer and student evaluation on equal footing.

“The most important dimension of the teaching process is between the students and teacher,” LSA sociology lecturer Luis Sfeir-Younis said.

He said the contract issue is not just about job security, but that this is an issue about securing the best education possible for students at the University.

Earlier last semester, LEO filed a number of grievances with the University in regards to laid-off lecturers and violation of the guidelines established in the contract. One of the major grievances filed was against the English department because three qualified lecturers were laid-off and allegedly never called back when new positions opened — a violation of the contracts that LEO has with the University.

Halloran said that they were able to reach a settelment with the University in which the lecturers were hired for the winter semester.

LEO hopes to continue working with the University in establishing open communication to discuss contract disputes.

“The one piece of positive news, finally, is that the provost decided to come down from the mountain … It’s the first time all year the provost has actually told deans and chairs that the University has made a commitment to LEO and the contract and that they have to do some work … it finally lights a fire for some progress,” said LEO campus chair Kirsten Herold.

 

Daily Staff Reporters Dayna Hogan-McLean and Michael Kan contributed to this report

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