Faculty union upset over hiring

University violated tenure policy, AAUP’s letter to Lefton says

Kent State’s faculty union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the university for offering a position with tenure to a candidate at the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising.

The case stems from a 5-2 faculty vote against the hiring of Vince Quevedo as an associate professor, and 5-0 vote against extending the offer with tenure. Both votes came by all faculty acting as the Faculty Advisory Committee.

In a March 10 letter to President Lester Lefton, the Kent State chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Kent State violated university policy by not discussing the matter with the union before making a decision to allow the exception to the policy. The unfair labor practice charge was filed March 14.

The faculty union says that exceptions to the tenure policy can be made only with the approval of the school faculty or after discussion with the union. The administration does not need the union’s approval but does need to “open up a dialogue with the AAUP,” according to the letter AAUP-KSU sent Lefton.

Upon getting approval from the administration, the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising extended an offer to Quevedo for a full-time position as an associate professor with tenure with a $93,000 salary. Faculty votes are only advisory. The final decisions are made by administrators.

Timothy Chandler, dean of the College of the Arts, said Quevedo has accepted the position and will begin in the fall. Quevedo previously worked at Kent State from 1994 to 1997 as an assistant professor in fashion design.

Associate Provost Gayle Ormiston and Provost Robert Frank would not discuss the specifics of the case, but Ormiston said there have been exceptions made in similar situations in the past involving extensions of tenure.

“There had been exceptions to the policy before and in those cases there had been no charges filed,” he said, adding that it is likely faculty agreed to make the exception in those cases.

Frank said the administration usually agrees with faculty advice.

“We don’t agree there’s been a violation,” Frank said about this case. “We were disappointed that this difference of opinion exists.”

When it comes to faculty input, President Lester Lefton said, “We follow that advice 90 to 95 percent of the time.”

In this case, Lefton said Quevedo is a minority candidate and a “highly qualified, highly sought-after individual.”

Deborah Smith, grievance chair for the AAUP-KSU, said the candidate (who the AAUP-KSU has not been naming) was rejected in two past searches at Kent State.

Quevedo’s past rejections were also a concern for faculty who voted against his hire, according to minutes from their faculty meeting.

In addition, Chandler wrote in an e-mail that there were disagreements among the faculty about Quevedo fitting the fashion department’s needs.

“While a majority of the faculty advised against hiring him, some were in favor,” he wrote. “While all agreed that Mr. Quevedo was well-qualified for the position, not all agreed that he was what was most needed in the department.”

According to faculty meeting minutes, Quevedo had been offered a similar position at North Carolina State but agreed to come to Kent State if he was offered tenure.

Most recently, Quevedo held the position of associate professor at Oklahoma State University. He has received more than 35 international awards for his designs and is known for his quilted garments, according to his Web site.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected] Contact academic affairs reporter Kristine Gill at [email protected].