There are a number of ongoing issues of interest to the faculty that the Faculty Senate is tracking. This page serves as a hub for pages focusing on these issues.
The University has drafted new Post-Tenure Review policies and the Senate provided comments and suggestions on this proposal. These policies were approved by the Board of Trustees. The Senate, working with the AAUP, remains committed to protecting tenure, and had put together a report for the Board of Trustees to make the high standards and rigorous process for attaining tenure more clear to them.
Recently, the Board has added new language to the EPPR policy to give themselves power to initiate “comprehensive peer reviews” of faculty members every six years, and of faculty members in “underperforming departments.” The Senate opposes these changes.
There is a vigorous discussion happening around the country about the relationship between free speech, safe spaces, political interference with campus, and academic freedom. Most recently, the appearance on campus of a neo-Nazi organization has spurred conversation about whether outside groups with offensive goals should be allowed campus space to host their views.
Governor Haslam has proposed outsourcing various aspects of campus management and maintenance. This is an issue of concern to the Senate; it is unclear that any financial benefit can be provided without cutting staff salaries, wages, or benefits. There is thus some doubt about the reliability of the reassurances the state and system leadership have issued on this topic.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was defunded in 2016 by legislative mandate, and the UTK Pride Center had a rocky time finding an official home. The Senate created a Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion to focus on the larger goal of diversity at the university and represent the faculty’s interests to the administration. We also supported a Pride Center Working Group to propose what a robust Pride Center on UT’s campus would look like; the Chancellor restored funding to the Pride Center and hired a new Pride Center Coordinator in Fall 2017.
Last year, the legislature legalized campus carry of firearms for faculty and staff. We have information here about the policies and procedures for faculty to notify UTPD about their intent to carry on campus. Additionally, there may be new laws in the next legislative session expanding the right to carry on campus.