Tarleton hides Faculty Senate Survey results

By: Madison Reed

Associate Producer

The Tarleton Faculty Senate sent out a survey this semester to faculty to find out how the university has been treating its employees. After an emergency meeting on March 29, it was said that the survey would not be able to be published or released due to some complaints against it and the Faculty Senates authority.

The Faculty Senate is a representative body with one senator elected from each department to defend faculty interest.

Faculty Senate President Dr. George Mollick said, “The senate, historically, has been this sort of body that is sort of the centralized voice of the faculty.”

George Mollick
Photo Courtesy of tarleton.edu

Mollick explained that the senate hadn’t always conducted surveys or evaluations. In the late 90s, however, the system began pushing for administrative evaluations to be conducted, and it fell to the senate.

Mollick explained that about 10 years ago, as the university pushed forward and gained new leadership with Dr. Dominic Dottavio, the administration and the senate began to push away from each other. As a result, the senate created this two-track system with two different evaluations and surveys a year. In the fall, the main, official evaluation of the faculty, for employee services, came out and in the spring, the faculty administration survey, which would be shared with all the faculty, would come out.

Though these evaluations and surveys were generally the same information, they had different questions on them which helped with accuracy and efficiency.

The survey that recently came out—the spring survey—goes to “full-time, faculty who do not have administrative release—so if you’re a department head or a dean, you don’t get the survey,” Mollick said.

The survey, Mollick said, went out to about 372 full-time faculty members. This survey did not include any adjuncts professors due to the senate not knowing how involved they were in the day-to-day of the the institution. And those being surveyed—the deans of each college, the provosts, and the president—did not get a survey.

The Tarleton Faculty Senate sent out a survey this semester to faculty to find out how the university has been treating its employees. After an emergency meeting on March 29, it was said that the survey would not be able to be published or released due to some complaints against it and the Faculty Senates authority.

The Faculty Senate is a representative body with one senator elected from each department to defend faculty interest.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Howard-Charles_6390-3-819x1024.jpg
Charles Howard
Photo Courtesy of tarleton.edu

Dr. Charles Howard, a former member of the Faculty Senate, said, “The survey included questions about the effectiveness of several academic administrators including the provost, president and academic deans and associate deans.”

The survey that was sent out was the same survey across the board for each tier group it was sent to.

Mollick explained that their were three separate surveys: one for the president, one for the provosts and one for the deans of each college. Within the three categories—predident, provosts and dean—the questions were the same for each person who took the survey.

“When we constructed the questions, we were really looking at the hot-button issues we keep seeing over and over and over again, ‘let’s see what the faculty think of this stuff.’ So we tried to include their concerns in the questionnaire…[which]were about as anonymous as I could make them…” Mollick said, “even if you go back into the data sent, you could not get who answered what—it was impossible, there’s a gap between it.”

Mollick had planned to release the results of each survey to the faculty once the surveys were looked over by the president, provosts and deans. This way it would remain inside Tarleton. After a time had past and people were acclimated to the information, he would post it to the Faculty Senate website.

Before the survey could be published publicly, “Two complaints were filed with Human Resources claiming the survey was not within Faculty Senate’s constitution,” Howard said.

In an email that was sent out by Mollick to the faculty, which was attained by an open records request completed by Howard, Mollick said, “While 183 of you participated in this process that the Senate had been doing for 20 years, a complaint within Academic Affairs was filed with Human Resources, stating among other things that the Senate did not have the authority to initiate such a review. Both System Legal and I examined our constitution and discovered that the authority to conduct the survey is not explicitly given to the senate.”

Then in an interview, Mollick said, “the Faculty Senate has the absolute agency to fill the survey on anything the body of the senate authorizes; so we did not—in any way, shape or form—give up our authority to survey faculty to try to understand what their needs are and what their concerns are. That is not what we have given up here. The only thing the Faculty Senate agreed to out of the long laundry list of things that came to us through the complaint—it was rather far-reaching—was the fact that from a personnel perspective, actually grading people—that we probably don’t have that authority, because you are then talking about the employee that is really then answering to two different managers and that’s not fair.”

“This, like so many Tarleton traditions,” Mollick further stated in the email he sent, “rituals and administrative habits, started as a simple agreement between the administration and the Senate as a tool to take the mood of the faculty every so often. I suspect the point of this was to avoid large pockets of dissatisfaction within the faculty ranks so as not to trigger a no-confidence vote at any level of administration.”

This leads to a multitude of questions needing to be asked. Why would Tarleton want to hide this information? Is the faculty unsatisfied with how they are being treated? Shouldn’t this information be released to help improve the environment of Tarleton and the treatment of its employees? Who would want this information hidden?

It was first assumed that Tarleton President James Hurley or the provosts were behind the complaints. After extensive research, however, it was discovered that the complaints came from elsewhere.

In the email, Mollick was quick to state, “It is important to note that Hurley and Barkley [associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration] played an important role in recognizing the need for all parties to talk and not escalate the situation further. The Senate and I would like to thank both of them in not allowing this situation to escalate further.”

Mollick explained that he was unaware of the complaints and the angst against the survey until Hurley brought it to his attention. He said Hurley was wise enough to notice the disagreement and to say we need to sit down and talk first before everyone goes nuts. According to Mollick, Barkley was also very good to work with and came up with a great solution to the problem.

In an email obtained through an open records request, it was found that two deans’ names had been redacted which led to the assumption they were behind it. When Texan News reached out to Dr. Sally Lewis, the dean of the college of health sciences and human services, and Dr. Kim Rynearson, the dean of the college of education, in order to see if they wanted to comment on why their names were redacted from the email, we never received a response except by Lewis who said to speak with Dr. Jordan Barkley, the associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration.

Barkley was unable to answer any questions until he was able to speak with Cecelia Jacobs, the assistant vice president of marketing and communications.

Barkley later said, “At this time, I cannot provide a statement and answer your questions. I am awaiting direction by the university.”

In the email correspondence between the unidentified deans and Evangelina Lopez, the assistant vice president of the employee services department, one of the unidentified deans stated she would not be meeting with Mollick when he would be going over the results of the surveys to notify the deans where they can improve because of three reasons.

These reasons were, according to the email to Lopez: (1) “an unsettling conversation with Mollick” that was had in Oct. 2020 in which Mollick threaten the dean and the dean’s job, (2) “[the] relevance scope and nature of the Faculty Senate Survey” and (3) the “integrity and validity of the Faculty Senate Survey…because the questions were leading, biased, poorly worded and did not include qualifiers to clarify to questions. The survey was conducted unfairly with some assistant deans/associate deans being evaluated and others were not.”

Mollick commented on the first accusation saying, “There is an HR action still against me on that specific issue…I refute the accuracy of that quote. Also, the kind of callous, ugly intent that was shown in that paragraph is, I find, personally reprehensible.

I will tell you that when I read that…I was sadden because that person I considered to be a friend. I mean we’ve gone to lunch together…so I do not understand that and I have struggled to understand that; because, I will tell you, whether it be a female colleague, a male colleague or any colleague—no one should be submitted to that kind of threat, because that’s what that was.I’m comfortable with how I handled myself—I remember the phone call that I think she’s talking about, and I do not remember it in that way in any way, shape or form. But I think there’s a lot of fear and I will say if I’m guilty of anything, I will tell you that I think there’s a lot of change in Tarleton and there’s a lot of fear; and I don’t think I fully appreciated the level of it when we issued the survey the first time.”

To clarify, when Mollick says fear, he means he thinks there’s just a lot going on. He mentioned the new administration and the new direction the new administration is taking Tarleton. He believes that those in middle management are under a lot of stress to perform their best and the last thing they needed was the Faculty Senate asking questions.

He believes that “At the end of the day, we’re all Tarleton—we all go together. And bringing out the concerns is part of us all going together. So I really think the failure in all this is a failure of discussion. We really don’t have any direct connection to the academic leadership except a monthly meeting. But not to the deans which is where most of the faculty are housed. And so there’s really no communication that goes on, and as you know, if you’re not talking, you’re not talking. I really think it’s not more complicated than that.”

Mollick commented again on the claim against him saying he was dumbfounded by it because it doesn’t represent him—who he is or how he does business—at all.

One of the unknown deans later said in the email, “I am respectfully requesting that the university not allow a university website to host these Faculty Senate Survey results and will condemn any efforts to make them publicly available.”

In a later email to Lopez the dean also wrote, “My understanding is that Mollick intends to make the results of the survey for all administrators available publicly. Given that these surveys were not within the processes defined by the university, my hope is that the university will not allow a university website to host such a report and will address any efforts to make them publicly available elsewhere.”

Why is it that, after 20 years of conducting an administrator satisfaction survey with no complaints, there is now a complaint and request to keep results private and away form the public eye? If Mollick threatened this dean’s job, could there be a lot of unsatisfaction within the college that the dean doesn’t want publicly made known?

Even with the opposition, the Faculty Senate is still passionate about helping the faculty and alerting those in charge of the issues within their departments. They are looking to amend their constitution to do this.

In the email to the faculty, Mollick said, “So, while our ability to focus on the problems you brought forward today must be paused, it will not pause the Senate shining a light on practices that keep our faculty from fulfilling their roles in the university. It is also a signal for the Senate to move through a process of updating and amending the constitution of the Senate to allow it to address issues for a university that operates on multiple instructional locations, diverse ranks, multiple modes of instructional delivery, increased call for research productivity, active learning for instruction, program management and those other duties as assigned.”

This situation has also brought to light the need for outside help to be established at Tarleton. Mollick has asked the faculty members to look at AAUP, the American Association of University Professors, an organization dedicated to fighting for academic freedom and giving a voice to the faculty.

“It also has proven to me that having a chapter of AAUP on our campus would be valuable, allowing for advocacy and recommendations that are not constrained by being part of the institutional structure. I encourage all of you to look into a membership at www.AAUP.org.” Mollick said.

Mollick also explained that the Faculty Senate, moving forward, will need to revise its constitution and actually structure it so the Faculty Senate can respond to faculty concerns, different aspects of the institution that impact faculty, and by impacting faculty impacting students as well.

“Whether you like it or not,” Mollick said, “you guys [the students] get us. And if we don’t have the tools, we need to do our gig, the person who’s paying here is not really—we pay, but also you pay. You want active learning, you want application-based stuff—that takes time and energy. It takes the willingness of the faculty to do it. And those are the kind of things we talk about.”

Mollick said, “Attempting to change any power structure is difficult, so it is our hope that this incident will underscore the need for increased communication and coordination between the Senate and Academic Affairs.”

Howard, a former member of the Faculty Senate, said “The survey included questions about the effectiveness of several academic administrators including the provost, president and academic deans and associate deans.”

The survey that was sent out was the same survey across the board for each tier group it was sent to.

Mollick explained that their were three separate surveys: one for the president, one for the provosts and one for the deans of each college. Within the three categories—predident, provosts and dean—the questions were the same for each person who took the survey.

“When we constructed the questions, we were really looking at the hot-button issues we keep seeing over and over and over again, ‘let’s see what the faculty think of this stuff.’ So we tried to include their concerns in the questionnaire…[which]were about as anonymous as I could make them…” Mollick said, “even if you go back into the data sent, you could not get who answered what—it was impossible, there’s a gap between it.”

Mollick had planned to release the results of each survey to the faculty once the surveys were looked over by the president, provosts and deans. This way it would remain inside Tarleton. After a time had past and people were acclimated to the information, he would post it to the Faculty Senate website.

Before the survey could be published publicly, “Two complaints were filed with

Human Resources claiming the survey was not within Faculty Senate’s constitution,” Howard said.

In an email that was sent out by Mollick to the faculty, which was attained by an open records request completed by Howard, Mollick said, “While 183 of you participated in this process that the Senate had been doing for 20 years, a complaint within Academic Affairs was filed with Human Resources, stating among other things that the Senate did not have the authority to initiate such a review. Both System Legal and I examined our constitution and discovered that the authority to conduct the survey is not explicitly given to the senate.”

Then in an interview, Mollick said, “the Faculty Senate has the absolute agency to fill the survey on anything the body of the senate authorizes; so we did not—in any way, shape or form—give up our authority to survey faculty to try to understand what their needs are and what their concerns are. That is not what we have given up here. The only thing the Faculty Senate agreed to out of the long laundry list of things that came to us through the complaint—it was rather far-reaching—was the fact that from a personnel perspective, actually grading people—that we probably don’t have that authority, because you are then talking about the employee that is really then answering to two different managers and that’s not fair.”

“This, like so many Tarleton traditions,” Mollick further stated in the email he sent, “rituals and administrative habits, started as a simple agreement between the administration and the Senate as a tool to take the mood of the faculty every so often. I suspect the point of this was to avoid large pockets of dissatisfaction within the faculty ranks so as not to trigger a no-confidence vote at any level of administration.”

This leads to a multitude of questions needing to be asked. Why would Tarleton want to hide this information? What was asked on the survey? Is the faculty unsatisfied with how they are being treated? Shouldn’t this information be released to help improve the environment of Tarleton and the treatment of its employees? Who would want this information hidden? What is Tarleton hiding?

It was first assumed that Tarleton President James Hurley or the provosts were behind the complaints. After extensive research, however, it was discovered that the complaints came from elsewhere.

In the email, Mollick was quick to state, “It is important to note that Hurley and Barkley [associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration] played an important role in recognizing the need for all parties to talk and not escalate the situation further. The Senate and I would like to thank both of them in not allowing this situation to escalate further.”

Mollick explained that he was unaware of the complaints and the angst against the survey until Hurley brought it to his attention. He said Hurley was wise enough to notice the disagreement and to say we need to sit down and talk first before everyone goes nuts. According to Mollick, Barkley was also very good to work with and came up with a great solution to the problem.

In an email obtained through an open records request, it was found that two deans names had been redacted which led to the assumption they were behind it. When Texan News reached out to Dr. Sally Lewis, the dean of the college of health sciences and human services, and Dr. Kim Rynearson, the dean of the college of education, in order to see if they wanted to comment on why their names were redacted from the email, we never received a response except by Lewis who said to speak. With Dr. Jordan Barkley, the associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration.

Barkley was unable to answer any questions until he was able to speak with Cecelia Jacobs, the assistant vice president of marketing and communications. He later said, “At this time, I cannot provide a statement and answer your questions. I am awaiting direction by the university.”

In the email correspondence between the unidentified deans and Evangelina Lopez, the assistant vice president of the employee services department, one of the unidentified deans stated she would not be meeting with Mollick when he would be going over the results of the surveys to notify the deans where they can improve because of three reasons.

These reasons were, according to the email to Lopez: (1) “an unsettling conversation with Mollick” that was had in Oct. 2020 in which Mollick threaten the dean and the dean’s job, (2) “[the] relevance scope and nature of the Faculty Senate Survey” and (3) the “integrity and validity of the Faculty Senate Survey…because the questions were leading, biased, poorly worded and did not include qualifiers to clarify to questions. The survey was conducted unfairly with some assistant deans/associate deans being evaluated and others were not.”

Mollick commented on the first accusation saying, “There is an HR action still against me on that specific issue…I refute the accuracy of that quote. Also, the kind of callous, ugly intent that was shown in that paragraph is, I find, personally reprehensible.

I will tell you that when I read that…I was sadden because that person I considered to be a friend. I mean we’ve gone to lunch together…so I do not understand that and I have struggled to understand that; because, I will tell you, whether it be a female colleague, a male colleague or any colleague—no one should be submitted to that kind of threat, because that’s what that was.I’m comfortable with how I handled myself—I remember the phone call that I think she’s talking about, and I do not remember it in that way in any way, shape or form. But I think there’s a lot of fear and I will say if I’m guilty of anything, I will tell you that I think there’s a lot of change in Tarleton and there’s a lot of fear; and I don’t think I fully appreciated the level of it when we issued the survey the first time.”

To clarify, when Mollick says fear, he means he thinks there’s just a lot going on. He mentioned the new administration and the new direction the new administration is taking Tarleton. He believes that those in middle management are under a lot of stress to perform their best and the last thing they needed was the Faculty Senate asking questions.

He believes that “At the end of the day, we’re all Tarleton—we all go together. And bringing out the concerns is part of us all going together. So I really think the failure in all this is a failure of discussion. We really don’t have any direct connection to the academic leadership except a monthly meeting. But not to the deans which is where most of the faculty are housed. And so there’s really no communication that goes on, and as you know, if you’re not talking, you’re not talking. I really think it’s not more complicated than that.”

Mollick commented again on the claim against him saying he was dumbfounded by it because it doesn’t represent him—who he is or how he does business—at all.

One of the unknown deans later said in the email, “I am respectfully requesting that the university not allow a university website to host these Faculty Senate Survey results and will condemn any efforts to make them publicly available.”

In a later email to Lopez the dean also wrote, “My understanding is that Mollick intends to make the results of the survey for all administrators available publicly. Given that these surveys were not within the processes defined by the university, my hope is that the university will not allow a university website to host such a report and will address any efforts to make them publicly available elsewhere.”

Why is it that, after 20 years of conducting an administrator satisfaction survey with no complaints, there is now a complaint and request to keep results private and away form the public eye? If Mollick threatened this dean’s job, could there be a lot of unsatisfaction within the college that the dean doesn’t want publicly made known?

Even with the opposition, the Faculty Senate is still passionate about helping the faculty and alerting those in charge of the issues within their departments. They are looking to amend their constitution to do this.

In the email to the faculty, Mollick said, “So, while our ability to focus on the problems you brought forward today must be paused, it will not pause the Senate shining a light on practices that keep our faculty from fulfilling their roles in the university. It is also a signal for the Senate to move through a process of updating and amending the constitution of the Senate to allow it to address issues for a university that operates on multiple instructional locations, diverse ranks, multiple modes of instructional delivery, increased call for research productivity, active learning for instruction, program management and those other duties as assigned.”

This situation has also brought to light the need for outside help to be established at Tarleton. Mollick has asked the faculty members to look at AAUP, the American Association of University Professors, an organization dedicated to fighting for academic freedom and giving a voice to the faculty.

“It also has proven to me that having a chapter of AAUP on our campus would be valuable, allowing for advocacy and recommendations that are not constrained by being part of the institutional structure. I encourage all of you to look into a membership at www.AAUP.org.” Mollick said.

Mollick also explained that the Faculty Senate, moving forward, will need to revise its constitution and actually structure it so the Faculty Senate can respond to faculty concerns, different aspects of the institution that impact faculty, and by impacting faculty impacting students as well.

“Whether you like it or not,” Mollick said, “you guys [the students] get us. And if we don’t have the tools, we need to do our gig, the person who’s paying here is not really—we pay, but also you pay. You want active learning, you want application-based stuff—that takes time and energy. It takes the willingness of the faculty to do it. And those are the kind of things we talk about.”

Mollick said, “Attempting to change any power structure is difficult, so it is our hope that this incident will underscore the need for increased communication and coordination between the Senate and Academic Affairs.”

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