KSU loses second arbitration to union

Maria Nann

Provost, AAUP address hiring practices

Kent State has lost two arbitrations against the faculty union since November for violations to the collective bargaining agreement, a Tuesday newsletter to American Association of University Professors members said.

In a letter to faculty yesterday, Provost Robert Frank said the current policy for hiring faculty with automatic tenure can restrict the university from recruiting the best instructors possible.

Gerald Chattman, an impartial arbitrator, ruled Dec. 9 that Kent State had violated the CBA by hiring Vincent Quevedo into the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising in early 2008 and automatically granting him tenure. According to the contract, Quevedo did not meet the requirements necessary for being awarded tenure upon hiring.

Chattman ruled that Quevedo, now an associate professor, be given a one-year probationary period before being allowed to apply for tenure.

After Chattman’s ruling, Kent State and AAUP entered discussions about the hiring of David Griffith of Michigan State University as the John F. Fiedler-BorgWarner Chair in Global Business Studies. The two sides agreed that the position was important to fill and were discussing the possibility of hiring Griffith with automatic tenure, even though he didn’t meet the requirements set forth by the CBA.

After they had reached an agreement to hire Griffith with automatic tenure, grant Quevedo tenure and settle the ruling of a previous arbitration, Kent State backed out with no explanation, the AAUP newsletter said.

In his Provost’s Update yesterday, Frank said restraints in the policy can cost the university top talent.

“We can attract highly qualified potential candidates to the university by appointment at a higher rank,” he wrote. “However, I believe our current policy limits our ability to entice these high performers because we cannot immediately award tenure … I believe highly qualified individuals who have secured the support of faculty in their departments and college should be eligible for appointment at the rank of professor with tenure.”

Frank wrote that the university has asked the Professional Standards Committee of the Faculty Senate to consider making changes to ensure hiring the best possible faculty.

In November, arbitrator Richard Sambuco ruled that President Lester Lefton violated the CBA in Fall 2007 when he rejected tenure requests by then-faculty members Mary LaVine and Daniel Dahlgren. Sambuco stated that the president misinterpreted and misapplied the language of the contract by providing no compelling evidence to deny the two tenure.

The AAUP newsletter also mentioned a third arbitration that is still pending, but did not elaborate.

Both sides declined to comment on the contents of the newsletter, but AAUP will be releasing a statement in the coming weeks.

Contact investigative reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].