The MU Faculty Council is nearing the end of a three-year process aimed at improving the university’s grievance process. The council is at the point now where it has to decide whether to make changes to the existing policy or start developing an entirely new system for hearing grievances.
Some initial changes were made in November 1, 2005. The revisions included the addition of an investigative officer to collect and organize evidence, and tightening up of deadlines. Those changes are being tested at MU, while the other three campuses of the University of Missouri System continued to use the old process. Laurie Mintz, MU’s Investigative Office, said that there were two perceptions that drove the initial revision: “Grievances were taking way too long to be heard,” she said, and “the Chancellor’s office was not upholding the panel’s recommendations.”
Basically, Mintz said, “the grievant didn’t win.”
A the co-chairs of a standing committee on the grievance process has recommended that more changes be made and that another two- to three- year test period be implemented. Those proposed changes include encouraging mediation prior to the official filing of a grievance; that the panel that hears the grievance be reduced from five members to three; and that an administrator be added to the panel as an ad hoc member.
Edward Adelstein, professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, said at the meeting that adding an administrator to the grievance panels would be bad for the grievance process because, “they would have so much influence over the panel members just by being in the room.”
JoAnne Banks-Wallace, associate professor of nursing, said at the meeting that she is opposed to reducing the size of panels because of the loss in personality diversity and world experiences that would occur. Banks-Wallace also asked the the proposal for mediation encouragement be closely examined because, “many faculty members have found it so completely unhelpful in the past.”
The committee also recommended that a working committee be established to examine and work on other potential processes to replace the current one. It is up to the Faculty Council, with the collaboration of MU’s Faculty Affairs Committee to accept, reject, or alter the proposed changes, and make their recommendation to the Board of Curators, who make the final decision.
The Faculty Council is now considering the suggested revisions and has no set date as to when it will give its recommendation to the Board of Curators.