Issues in Progress

President's Commission

on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Concerns

At the Commission's March 17 meeting, Co-chair Kevin Gelé reported that the annual Pride Banquet held on March 3 was the best attended in the event's five-year history. Gelé estimated that about 150 faculty, staff and students attended.

Saralyn Chesnut, director of the Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Life, reported that the annual Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Film Festival, held the week before the Pride Banquet, also was well attended. Chesnut said about 300 people attended the Feb. 22 screening of the film "Out at Work," featuring Georgian Cheryl Summerville. Chesnut said about 1,000 people attended Film Festival events altogether.

Gelé announced that nominations for Commission membership for 1997-98 remain open until March 31. He said that faculty nominations are still needed. Gelé can be reached at 727-5910.

Leslie Harris of the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Studies Curriculum Committee announced that a series of luncheons has begun with faculty and graduate students who are interested in lesbian and gay studies. Luncheons are planned for March 27 and April 17. Harris can be reached via e-mail at <>.

Commission members discussed the possibility of forming a long-range planning subcommittee to handle issues that are ongoing over multiple years. Chesnut suggested that such a subcommittee could conduct a campus climate/attitude survey on lesbian and gay issues, with the results of the survey providing possible indications of future directions for the Commission. Also suggested was working toward the creation of a Lesbian and Gay Center, based largely on the model of the Women's Center.

The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 14, at 4 p.m.

Faculty Council

A proposed restructuring of the Council's Committee on Faculty Relationships (CFR) was the primary topic of discussion at the group's March 18 meeting.

Chair Rich Freer of the law school explained that the committee is recommending the replacement the current CFR with two new committees, a Faculty Mediation Committee (FMC) and a Faculty Hearing Committee (FHC).

Under current University policy, the existing CFR, at the request of a faculty member terminated or suspended by his or her dean or other academic administrator, reviews the administrator's decision. The CFR makes findings and recommendations, which are passed on to President Bill Chace. The president then makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who make the final decision on the case.

Several Council members, as well as President Chace and Provost Billy Frye, commented on the inadequacy of the current policy, particularly the second-guessing of deans involved in the process.

In contrast, the proposed Faculty Hearing Committee would be responsible for arranging and presiding at a hearing in advance of a dean's decision on termination or suspension. The FHC would make findings of fact to help inform the dean's decision on whether the employment of a faculty member should be terminated or suspended. While the FHC would make a recommendation, the dean would not be obligated to concur with it.

The FHC chair would be an elected member of the Faculty Council appointed by the Council's officers. Membership would consist of both Council members and faculty from outside the Council.

Separate from the FHC, the committee also is recommending creation of a Faculty Mediation Committee (FMC) to mediate disputes between faculty members and deans that do not involve a possible termination or suspension or denial of tenure or promotion. The FMC, which would gather information informally and attempt to resolve disputes amicably, could make suggestions to the faculty member or administrator on how to resolve the dispute, but would have no power to order any particular result and would not make findings of fact or formal recommendations.

Rather than creating a standing FMC, Frye recommended that different FMCs be constituted to handle specific cases, thereby ensuring the ability to appoint FMC members who understand the particular culture of a school or college involved in a dispute.

After the Council voted to support in principle the creation of an FHC and FMC, Johnson asked the committee to incorporate suggestions made by Council members and to meet with the deans and directors to obtain their input before finalizing their recommendations.

In other business, President-elect Bill Cody reported that the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Committee has received 12 nominations to deliver next year's lecture. Cody said the committee will give a full report at the Council's April 8 meeting, the final meeting of the academic year.

-Dan Treadaway

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