As part of their effort to show support for faculty governance, the University’s president and the provost rescinded the controversial mandate – which had been written into 2023-2024 faculty contracts – requiring that full-time faculty be on campus at least three days a week.
In an email to faculty last week from Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Roy Kwon, University President Pardis Mahdavi, and Faculty Senate President and Kinesiology Professor Paul Alvarez, they told the faculty: “As a first step to… signify our willingness to work with faculty, we will formally rescind the recent faculty contract language around presence on campus, effective immediately.”
The email went on to highlight the importance of faculty presence on campus.
It quoted a recent Pew Research Center study finding that 35% of Americans work from home post pandemic, and noted that this might not be beneficial to the future success of the University. They said they are committed to updating the presence policy in the Faculty Handbook, in the Nov. 6 email.
The contract with the three-day mandate was sent to full-time faculty in June as a “revised” contract, after a first contract was sent in May that did not include the mandate language.
Some faculty had signed the first contract only, while others signed the revised contract. Then at the beginning of the academic year, faculty members who had not signed the revised contract were told by human resources that they were out of compliance with their contract.
“The administration can’t impose a new contract on you unless there’s a mutual agreement,” Alvarez said in a phone interview last week. “So there were all kinds of legal and ethical issues on why it was a really bad idea to begin with. And then furthermore,… they really couldn’t force us to sign a contract, because we’d already started getting paid for the school year.”
Alvarez added that there was push-back because faculty were blindsided. There was no discussion of implementation, and they were being treated like juveniles rather than professionals because deans started to take roll at meetings.
He said that he does not think there should be a reinstallation of the mandate because the administration has learned that other Universities do not require faulty presence for a certain number of days during the week, it is not popular, and it does not work.
“There was a lot of question around whether the original approach was the best approach,” Kwon said in a phone interview this week. “So it seems like there’s broad agreement with the Senate Executive Committee as well as Senate and administration, that we need to re-examine our presence policy.”
The 2020-2021 Faculty Handbook, which is the most up-to-date handbook available on the University website, states: “It is suggested that faculty are present on the La Verne or a regional campus roughly three days per week during semesters/terms when they are teaching during the academic year.”
“We will have a new presence policy,” Kwon said. “It’s just a question of, how do we get to the point of having as much feedback from faculty, whether that’s adjunct faculty, NTTs, or full-time faculty, and getting that feedback, so Senate and the Senate Executive Committee could craft the best policy that’s possible for not just serving the needs of faculty, but also serving the needs of our students.”
Samira Felix can be reached at email@example.com.