Response to the Department of Sociology’s Inquiries on the BOR Decision Granting Prof. Sarah Raymundo Tenure
Judy M. Taguiwalo
September 24, 2010
This is the response to the July 26, 2010 letter of the Department of Sociology to the Board of Regents raising a number of questions on the BOR decision granting tenure to Prof. Sarah Raymundo.
At the outset, it must be noted that almost four months after the May 27, 2010 BOR decision granting the appeal of Prof. Raymundo for tenure, the decision has not been implemented and Prof. Raymundo remains without a teaching position, without any salary.
On Departmental Autonomy
First was the request to clarify “the meaning of the Board’s action reaffirming its authority over tenure cases.” The present majority’s opinion in the Department is that they are always in the “best position to know the disciplinal requirements for tenure” intimating the idea that the Board has overextended its powers by deciding in favor of Prof. Raymundo’s tenure appeal.
The principle of departmental autonomy is indeed an important feature of the University. In deciding on the case, the Board, however, acting with the best interests of the University in mind, had to consider other important principles and weigh them vis-à-vis the autonomy of departments. In my motion presented before the Board on January 29, 2010 on Prof. Raymundo’s case, these issues were and became the primary basis for the May 27, 2010 decision.
The principles of academic freedom and fairness in the tenure process have to be considered against the autonomy of academic units. I presented the following discussion:
According to the document “Shaping Our Institutional Future: A Statement on Faculty Tenure, Rank and Promotion” (OVPAA, 2004), there are two rights at stake in considering appeals regarding the non-award of tenure, to wit, “the right of tenured colleagues to make a qualitative judgment on the candidate’s performance and record and the right of temporary faculty to expect fairness, both in the process by which the tenure decision is reached and in the substance of that decision. The appeal procedure should take into account both these rights.” The same document states that the consideration of tenure should be made “solely on academic grounds” and that the use of any other criteria may lead to a “violation of academic freedom” (I.F.4.a).
The UP Diliman University Council in December 15, 2008 upheld the right of all untenured faculty to be informed upon employment of the criteria for their evaluation and to be evaluated on the basis of these criteria. The UPD UC also spelled out the elements of transparency in the tenure process.
Based on this, majority of the members of the Board has adopted the following motion:
Declare as a matter of policy that the absence of any reason to deny tenure from a temporary faculty who has otherwise met the declared requirements for tenure is not an acceptable exercise of departmental autonomy that should be uncritically respected.
Departmental autonomy is never absolute. If it were, the various offices of the University of the Philippines should not have entertained any appeal. The fact that the appeal process for tenure issues (Department, College, Chancellor, President, BOR) may need to be reviewed and spelled out does not remove the authority of the BOR to decide on appeals of faculty members who have exhausted all channels at the CU and system levels..
On the absence of recommendation from an academic unit
The Department also raises the issue that the Board’s decision in favor of Prof. Raymundo’s appeal was the first instance when the Board granted tenure “without a positive recommendation from academic bodies.” In the same January 29, 2010 motion, I cite Lorraine Carlos Salazar as a precedent. I refer to the Board’s intervention in favor of Salazar’s appeal for tenure on the basis of her academic credentials over other considerations. The Board’s January 27, 2005 decision was cited as follows:
The Board was not satisfied with the department’s argument that the best, though, implicit, measure of collegiality is the confidence vote of two-thirds of the tenured faculty. Since the basis of the vote is not explained in the letter, the Board could only conclude that collegiality outweighed academic credentials. The Board maintained that academic credentials should not be ignored.
The Lorraine Salazar case provides a recent example of the Board taking an active role when academic units fail to solely abide by academic criteria in deciding on tenure issues. The argument that in the Lorainne Salazar’s case the University President recommended her for tenure while in Sarah Raymundo’s case the UP President did not cannot be used to nullify the 2005 Board’s decision that “academic credentials should not be ignored”
Furthermore, it is the appreciation of the Board based on the facts of the case that Prof. Raymundo has fulfilled all the academic requirements for tenure as defined in the faculty manual. It is also the understanding of the Board that the Department initially recommended Prof. Raymundo for tenure on April 2008 only to take it back on November 2008 over undisclosed reasons. While departments can indeed impose more stringent requirements for tenure, these impositions must be transparent and fair, and made “solely on academic grounds.”
Up to this date, the basis for not granting tenure to Prof. Raymundo has not been formally explained by the Department of Sociology. But if we are to go by the revelation of Prof. Laura Samson in the July 2010 UP Diliman University Council meeting, the reason for denying tenure has always been political not academic. Prof Samson has claimed that Prof. Raymundo could not be trusted for having her name entangled in three cases of students missing from the university. These allegations as bases for denial of tenure have never been put in writing in the various decisions denying Prof. Sarah Raymundo’s tenure. The University cannot condone the use of unofficial and unproven allegations to deny tenure to a faculty member who has fulfilled the requirements for tenure. Thus, the main basis for the motion to grant the appeal of Prof. Raymundo was adopted by the majority of the Board’s members.
Given the lack of any substantive reason declared to deny tenure in this case from the original process as well as from the appeals process and given that Prof. Raymundo met the requirements for tenure, grant the appeal for tenure of Prof. Raymundo.
This power to grant tenure on appeal cases has been reiterated by the Board on its July 14, 2010 meeting with specific instructions to the UP President to implement the granting of tenure to Prof. Raymundo.
On the fairness of the BOR
The Department of Sociology also takes issue over the perceived lack of impartiality of some of the members of the Board with regard to the appeal of Prof. Raymundo. Majority of the Board Members merely acted on the appeal of Prof. Raymundo based on their appreciation of the merits of the case taking into consideration the principles of academic freedom and fairness in their decision-making. The Department need not feel aggrieved especially since Prof. Raymundo had been the appellant and the aggrieved party for the past two years.
The Department of Sociology raises doubts on the integrity of the BOR decision by pointing out that the Staff Regent and the Faculty Regent signed an online petition for the tenure of Prof. Sarah Raymundo. Let it be known that the petition addressed to the Chancellor rightfully argues on just grounds why Prof. Raymundo should be granted tenure. The Offices of the Chancellor and the President denied Prof. Raymundo’s appeal for tenure without challenging any of the qualifications she claims to deserve tenure. In fact, both decisions were made in the spirit of upholding the Department of Sociology’s autonomy as an academic unit. These decisions though dispensed by the Offices of the Chancellor and the President were subjected to further appeal by Prof. Raymundo as the Charter of the University of the Philippines provides her the right to appeal these decisions to the highest decision-making body, the BOR.
The BOR is separate and distinct from the individual personalities of its members. Being a collegiate body, the BOR cannot allow an individual’s position to dominate its ruling. When the Department of Sociology questions the Faculty and Staff Regents signing the online petition in support of Prof. Raymundo’s tenure and our actual voting for the same in our capacity as members of the BOR, what is actually being suggested is that the BOR ruling on Prof. Raymundo tenure was manipulated by myself and the Staff Regent, which is a serious accusation that cannot stand based on mere conjecture.
Furthermore, the BOR does not have a rule on automatic inhibition therefore the matter of inhibiting oneself is a matter that lies solely on the discretion of the party concerned or may be deliberated upon if raised other members of the Board. And this is precisely why demanding President Roman to inhibit herself from voting on May 27, 2010 was not proposed even when the subject of the voting was her very own decision against Prof. Raymundo’s tenure appeal.
This is not the only case when a member of the BOR voted on issues where he/she has indicated a position. Many of the Student Regents have publicly opposed the proposals for tuition increases and/or laboratory fees’ imposition. Such a position has never been used to deny the Student Regent the right to participate and to vote on the matter when it was taken up in the BOR.
What the Department of Sociology needs to explain is how it cannot be faulted for insubordination for its continual refusal to implement the decision of the BOR on the grant of tenure for Sarah Raymundo. The BOR as the highest governing body of the university is mandated to hear out appeals cases and to decide after the appellant has exhausted all channels of relief within the University.
Let me reiterate that the decision to grant the appeal of Prof. Sarah Raymundo for tenure made on May 27, 2010 and reiterated by the BOR in its June, 2010 meeting was solely based on academic grounds. Prof. Sarah Raymundo has fulfilled the academic requirements for tenure laid down by the University and the majority of the BOR voted on this basis.
May I share with the BOR the July 26, 2010 letter of two members of the Department of Sociology who support the grant of tenure to Prof. Raymundo? This letter was received by the Office of the President on July 27, 2010 but was not shared with the members of the BOR in the July 29 meeting where President Roman provided the Board with copies of the letter of the Department of Sociology.
Originally posted here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=436682073137&id=1170042080