Unit Standards: Clarifying the Language
The last collective agreement codified the idea of unit standards for tenure and promotion. In reality, however, every unit at Carleton has always had standards that Tenure and Promotion committee members applied to decisions they took about tenure and promotion. The problems that candidates faced with these informal standards were twofold: many times candidates did not know what standards they had to meet for tenure and/or promotion and at the faculty or university level, members from other disciplines often did not understand the standards from a very different specialty. The inclusion of unit standards in the Collective Agreement is meant to address these two problems and not to increase the bar for tenure or promotion.
In most units and indeed most faculties, the unit standards are in place and this process is moving forward to a more transparent and fair tenure and promotion practice. In a few units, however, the process of developing unit standards has been more problematic. Because of these problems, CUASA has decided to clarify our interpretation of the Collective Agreement language.
The major problems that have been reported to CUASA are that (1) the employer is pressuring units to accept elements in their unit standards on the basis that other units have this language and (2) that if they do not accept this language the Dean will impose unit standards on them.
The language of the Collective Agreement clearly states that university-wide criteria need to be modified by local parameters. Under article 10.2 (University Criteria) the language repeats “as appropriate for the candidate and their academic unit” and “as appropriate for the field of expertise as defined in the unit approved standards.” The university criteria provide overarching guidelines but it is within the units that the specific requirements of teaching, research and service need to be spelled out. Clearly, the unit standards apply only to the unit in question and therefore it is not appropriate to ask units to replicate language that has been adopted in other units. In particular, in few units, the employer is demanding that they include as a requirement for tenure to either obtain external funding or provide proof that a candidate has tried multiple times to get such grants. While such a prerequisite is appropriate in some units, it is not proper to impose such conditions on the most junior of colleagues especially in disciplines where research does not necessitate funding. Requiring units to adopt language for their unit standards because other units are doing it defeats the purpose of developing language that is specific to a particular discipline. The development of unit standards is also informed by Appendix B which provides long lists of elements that can be considered for the unit standards but does not impose any one single element from these lists.
Another problem reported by a number of units is the threat to impose unit standards if the unit does not agree to the changes. The Collective Agreement specifies that the Dean can impose unit standards if the unit does not complete them by the end of June 2013. There is no provision in the Collective Agreement to impose unit standards unless the unit did not complete them by the deadline. CUASA urges anyone in a department or institute that is facing these or other problems to contact us.