Provost responds on civility – but ducks the question

The Campus Faculty Association asked the Provost at the beginning of October to “explain how civility is to be defined and evaluated in hiring, promotion, and tenure cases at the University of Illinois.” The question is pertinent and topical, and as the top academic officer of the campus, the Provost should be well placed to answer it.

He responded this week. Sort of.

The Provost says he “welcome[s] the ongoing campus conversation about civility.” But his response notably fails to participate in that conversation. Does he believe civility should be considered in hiring decisions? We are none the wiser. Read for yourself…

From: Adesida, Ilesanmi
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2014 10:41 AM
To: Rosenstock, Bruce
Subject: RE: request for clarification

Dear Professor Rosenstock:

I write in response to your correspondence of October 3, 2014, in which you raise questions about the role of civility on our campus.  The Academic Senate had a vigorous discussion about this important topic at its meeting on October 20th.  I welcome the ongoing campus conversation about civility, including its role and intersection with principles of academic freedom and standards of professional conduct. As you may know, the Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure is currently conducting a review that may contribute to our collective consideration of the issue you raise. I look forward to working with the faculty on these important issues, through their shared governance structure, the Academic Senate.

Sincerely,

Ilesanmi Adesida, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost


Still no response from Academic Human Resources to our other letter, in which we asked:

  1. What types of statement outside the professional setting may be collected and examined in the hiring process? Can information from personal websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, and other social media sites be used in evaluating candidates?
  2. What criteria are to be used to evaluate a job candidate’s extramural opinions and the tone in which they are expressed?
  3. At what stage of the hiring process should the extramural utterances of a job candidate be evaluated?

These seem fair questions to ask, given the circumstances on campus, but it seems the administration is not eager to provide answers.

If we had a faculty union, the Provost would not be able to give a no-response response on such a critical matter.  The administration would have to sit down and negotiate on changes to conditions and terms of employment.   The days of  unilateral administrative action would be over.

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