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Tenure policy fair, Schmeltekopf says

Sept. 18, 1996

By Lisa Zapata

Lariat Staff Writer

In the past couple of weeks, Baylor's policies on tenure have come into question by several faculty members and outside parties.

According to the Personnel Policy manual of Baylor University, 'Tenure means assurance to an experienced faculty member that he/she may expect to continue in his/her position unless adequate cause for dismissal is demonstrated in a fair hearing, following established procedures of due process.'

Excellence in teaching, which is evaluated by both students and departmental peers, research and creativity through publication and other academic endeavors, community and university service such as student/teacher interaction and significant contribution to the university are the four factors used in establishing tenure, said Dr. Donald Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The tenure process lasts for seven consecutive years, focusing on six years of evaluation, which is when the tenure committee will decide whether to grant tenure and non-tenured faculty member are invited to submit information about their service in the community, and a year of probation is needed to deduct final evaluations, Schmeltekopf said.

He said between 23 and 25 faculty members were evaluated for tenure this year, and three or four were denied.

Dr. Cheryl Gonce-Warner, associate dean of graduate school, was one of the faculty members denied tenure this.

'I received a letter that said I failed to demonstrate conclusively my worthiness to receive tenure at Baylor,' Warner said. 'When university administration uses language with such ambiguity to explain its decision, it invites individuals to question the fairness it is expected to protect,' Warner said.

She said the departmental tenure committee had given its approval on her being granted tenure.

Warner said she has been engaged in the appeals process for several months and has received no information from the administration on the matter. She said that if she does not receive answers to her many appeals, she may have to bring resources in from outside of Baylor to resolve the matter.

Dr. Bill Bellinger, graduate school tenure committee member and professor and director of graduate studies in religion, declined to comment on Warner's situation.

When asked if she thought tenure would have been granted under a different administration, Warner said that the same question has been lingering in her mind for months.

Still, University officials said the procedure is consistent.

'In general, the review process was no different this year than in the past,' Schmeltekopf said, ' What has been indicated in some media sources about church attendance had no bearing with respect to the final decision on these tenure cases.'

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