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Faculty Senate Passes Measure on Course-Teacher Evaluations

Faculty Senate Passes Measure on Course-Teacher Evaluations

The Faculty Senate, at its March 22 meeting, unanimously approved a refinement to the College Handbook on personnel policies that pertain to the use of Course-Teacher Evaluation forms (CTEs) in measuring faculty performance.

In offering the recommendation, the Academic Faculty Affairs Committee (AFAC) intended to help department personnel committees and department faculty to clearly understand the use of these assessment forms about both the course and teacher, which students turn in upon concluding the course.

While this form of evaluation is primarily intended to measure the effectiveness of a course offering, and is required to be administered no less than every third time the class is taught, College records relate the CTE form also serves to assess the instructor’s job performance.

The form has been administered that way essentially since the inception of the CTE, noted several faculty members who had researched College records as far back as the 1980s on the subject.

“It could be used for personnel decisions and it was not a matter of choice,” said Senator David Berger, Psychology Department, who had looked into the matter with Senator Jalal Alemzadeh, Mathematics Department.

The recommendation adopted by the Faculty Senate, which after approval by President Erik J. Bitterbaum would be added to the College Handbook, is worded as follows:

“That each department be explicitly clear in its personnel policies how often CTEs should be administered and whether or not and in what ways they will be used evaluatively to consider personnel matters.”

“This addresses the concerns particularly of untenured faculty, who need to know where they stand,” said AFAC Chair Andrew Fitz-Gibbon, Philosophy Department.

“It’s a fairly general and commonsense regulation: how best to use CTEs,” noted Faculty Senate Chair David Miller, Geography Department.

In new business, with three quarters of senators present, the Faculty Senate determined it could legitimately pass a time sensitive request by the Executive Committee of the University Faculty Senate in support of a March 2011 “Resolution in Support of a Rational Fiscal Plan for SUNY.”

The action, which was approved with one “nay” vote, centered on a proposed, five-year tuition plan that has been embraced by SUNY, CUNY, and the Student Faculty Assembly.

A few senators expressed unease at the vagueness resolution aspects but most endorsed its purpose and spirit.