AAUP@JMU Comment re: Provost remarks of Feb 23, 2023

In the Provost’s February 2023 remarks to the Faculty Senate (February 23, 2023) and in regard to the Faculty Senate’s Transparency and Accountability of Administrative Hires resolution and resolution of Condemnation, Dr. Coltman noted that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) “stresses that collegiality should not be a basis for evaluation as it is considered exclusionary and prevents departing from an established norm” (Provost’s Written Remarks, p. 8).

A closer reading of the AAUP’s statement “On Collegiality as a Criterion for Faculty Evaluation” reveals a more nuanced understanding of the role of collegiality in the academy than the one presented.

AAUP’s statement on collegiality and faculty evaluation is, first and foremost, a document intended to inform conversations, policies, and procedures related to tenure-line faculty personnel actions, including tenure, promotion, and renewal decisions.

The intention of the AAUP’s statement, as the Provost suggested, is to ensure that norms of collegiality do not serve to marginalize minoritized members of the academy. It is also meant to safeguard academic freedom and to provide an open space for faculty debate and discussion. To further these goals, the AAUP statement clearly indicates that “collegiality is not a distinct capacity to be assessed independently of the traditional triumvirate of teaching, scholarship, and service.” In the strongest terms, the AAUP states that “Nothing is to be gained by establishing collegiality as a separate criterion of assessment.”

Yet, the AAUP also notes that “Few, if any, responsible faculty members would deny that collegiality, in the sense of collaboration and constructive cooperation, identifies important aspects of a faculty member’s overall performance.” That is to say that while collegiality should not be a distinct dimension of evaluation, an assessment of any faculty member will, by necessity, “encompass the contributions that the virtue of collegiality may pertinently add to the evaluation of faculty member’s career.”

Noting this, two essential incongruities within the Provost’s remarks stand out. First, the document to which Provost referred applies to the evaluation of tenure-line faculty and not the assessment of the work of academic administrators. Second, even if the criteria for the evaluation of faculty applied to senior academic leaders, collegiality, as clearly indicated by a close reading of the AAUP’s Statement “On Collegiality as a Criterion for Faculty Evaluation” matters.

AAUP@JMU encourages you to read the full document.

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