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Council approves new RIF policy

From University Council minutes

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 19 - February 1, 1996

At its January 15 meeting, University Council voted to approve the new Reduction in Force for Program Restructuring or Discontinuance policy after second reading. (See "University RIF Policy" on page 3). The motion was voted upon and passed after very brief discussion.

Paul Metz, who presented the resolution for second reading, had presented the first reading at the University Council's December 4 meeting. At that time, Metz explained that the newly revised policy is designed to replace the current section 2.11.3, Reduction in Force Associated with Discontinuance or Reorganization of Programs policy. He noted that the current RIF policy sections dealing with Dismissal for Cause (2.11.1), and Reduction in Force Due to Financial Exigency (2.11.2) would not be altered in any way.

In the December meeting, Metz pointed out that the new policy would not be needed in the majority of university restructuring efforts since, with appropriate planning, these should be possible without reductions in faculty positions other than from attrition. He explained that last year the Board of Visitors identified deficiencies in the current policy. The board was specifically concerned that the five-year notice to affected faculty members seemed unduly generous, and they objected to an inflexible, strictly seniority-based, layoff policy. Therefore, the Commission on Faculty Affairs (CFA) began working on a revision that was completed in the late spring.

Lacking time for a full review by the campus community before the end of the academic year, the topic was carried to this year's CFA. In addition, the resolution has been extensively reviewed by the university community, printed in Spectrum at least twice, posted on the Gopher, and has been discussed at length by CFA, whose Faculty Senate members, especially Don Mullins, have kept the Faculty Senate informed and involved.

Some of the major differences between the new and old policy are that the new policy:

* includes earlier and more significant faculty involvement;

* provides for transitional benefits;

* reduces the notification period from five to three years;

* retains the principal of tenure as of cardinal importance but finds a place for merit and for programs whose diversity would otherwise be threatened;

* defines a program;

* is much more detailed and precise than the policy now in place; and

* includes affirmative action.

One council member asked if there was a clear description of "extraordinary circumstances." He felt that without a clear description, the policy could be interpreted many different ways. Metz said the description falls between financial exigency, which is extremely unlikely, and routine restructuring.

President Paul Torgersen complimented the CFA for the excellent work and diligence they have displayed in preparing this resolution.