April 2014 Newsletter – Arbitrator’s Decision on Syllabus Grievance

Dear Colleagues,
I’m writing to let you know that the arbitrator has issued a decision on the grievance the Faculty Association filed on behalf of a class of affected faculty members regarding Provost Nicklow’s March 2013 directive requiring the collection and online posting of course syllabi and the creation of a central repository for those syllabi. The Faculty Association argued that the contract lays out the entire obligation of Faculty members regarding syllabi and this cannot be unilaterally altered by the administration.
The arbitrator issued his decision on March 18, 2014, ruling that the administration has the right to collect copies of syllabi for the purpose of insuring compliance with the contract’s Section 10.02.a(3)*. At the same time, he agreed with the Faculty Association that the obligation of faculty regarding syllabi is no more than what is specified in the contract unless new requirements are bargained with the Faculty Association. In these rulings, the arbitrator has affirmed the primacy of the negotiated contract provisions.
The arbitrator specifically ruled that “syllabi must be provided to the administration no later than the point at which they are provided to the students.” He also ruled that the Provost’s timeline for providing a copy of the syllabus should be modified to use the negotiated standard of “the beginning of each semester (if possible at the first class meeting).” Syllabi do not have to be provided in advance of the semester, but faculty should be prepared to provide justification if the syllabus is not provided at the first class meeting.
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