UT faculty senate acts to prevent ‘morale lists’

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

The University of Toledo’s faculty senate yesterday passed a resolution aimed at preventing the “morale list” controversy in the college of education from happening again.

“This is a university-wide issue,” said Mary Ellen Edwards, the education professor who proposed the resolution. “There are ways to evaluate our performance, but a list like this isn’t one of them.”

The resolution refers to the list created by interim Education Dean Charlene Czerniak and sent to UT President Vik Kapoor on Sept. 4. Dr. Czerniak separated 42 education faculty into “negative,” “neutral,” and “positive” categories, based on her perceptions of their morale and their opinions of the university administration.

In October, when The Blade obtained a copy of the list, it created an uproar both within and beyond the university. Professors decried it as a violation of their academic freedom, and the list was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and on the Internet.

At the time, Dr. Czerniak said that Dr. Kapoor had asked her to create the list. Since then, both Dr. Kapoor and Dr. Czerniak have denied such a request was made.

A few days after the list became public, the faculty senate passed a resolution condemning the administration for creating it.

But yesterday’s resolution goes further, asking that the university “establish policies and procedures to prevent further compilation of lists of faculty based on perceived ‘attitudes’ and ‘morale.'”

It asks that the administration ensure that future list-makers would be punished by the administration. Dr. Czerniak has not been sanctioned, although Dr. Edwards would not say what she believed the penalty should have been.

Dr. Edwards said that the list violated the faculty’s union contract with UT, which defines certain ways the university can evaluate its faculty. “It’s a collective bargaining issue,” she said.

Joe Brennan, the university’s spokesman, did not return a phone call last night seeking comment on the resolution last night.

In other action, the senate nearly unanimously passed a resolution supporting the extension of employee benefits at Ohio universities to domestic partners.

Many universities have had difficulty attracting talented gay faculty members if they do not offer benefits like health insurance to their partners. More than 100 universities, including Ohio’s Antioch, Denison, Kenyon, and Oberlin, offer domestic partner benefits.

The resolution will be sent to the Ohio Faculty Council, which is advising the Ohio Board of Regents on the addition of domestic partner benefits to the faculty.

But Heinz Bulmahn, UT’s representative on the Ohio Faculty Council, said that pending legislation in the General Assembly might make such benefits at public agencies and universities illegal. “This is a political issue as much as an economic one,” he said.

The resolution did not deal with several specific issues, including how one defines a domestic partner and whether the benefits would be extended to both same-sex and heterosexual partners.

Those issues will be dealt with by the Board of Regents, Dr. Bulmahn said.