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The buffalo statue near Folsom Field on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.
The buffalo statue near Folsom Field on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.

Changes to University of Colorado Regent laws are having ripple effects at CU Boulder that are earning strong criticism from faculty members.

The Boulder Faculty Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution condemning Provost Russell Moore’s decision to disband a faculty committee that evaluates university administrators.

The resolution passed 35-2 by secret ballot.

Moore and some university deans have been less and less receptive to feedback from the faculty-led Administrator Appraisal Committee in recent years, said Professor Alastair Norcross.

“Now the provost is telling us not only he won’t look at these things, but that we shouldn’t be doing them for our own purposes,” Norcross said. “That’s what we’re objecting to, the idea that we as a faculty body aren’t allowed to exercise our academic freedom to evaluate our bosses, even to share information among ourselves.”

The decision is “a slap in the face,” Norcross said, particularly given all of the accommodations faculty members have made for administrators being evaluated.

Faculty members who try to keep the committee going could land in hot water, according to the resolution, as Moore has “indicated” it would be seen as violating regent law and a basis for discipline.

Professor Ahmed White, who serves on the committee, said he wasn’t surprised by Moore’s decision because of how the committee has yielded to more and more requests from the administration in the way it conducted reviews.

“I’m concerned because this doesn’t amount to shared governance,” he said.

Moore described the differing views as “a collegial disagreement.”

Under the previous system, faculty committee members recused themselves from reviewing deans or administrators who supervised them to avoid any bias or conflict of interest, Norcross said.

But the new system will create faculty committees at each college and school to evaluate their respective leaders, Moore said, which means the people who know those administrators best will be reviewing them.

The changes are born out of a revision to Board of Regent laws, which Moore said will ultimately strengthen shared governance on campus.

“The role of the Boulder Faculty Assembly becomes even more critical to the campus with new regent law,” Moore said. “Not only are they the governance body dealing with campus issues, but they are ensuring that rules in one unit don’t create unintended negative consequences in other schools or colleges.”

Having faculty review their own deans could result in bias, conflict of interest or retaliation, according to the faculty assembly resolution.

“It’s easy for someone in authority to get the impression they’re doing a good job because their subordinates are telling them they’re doing a good job because they’re afraid of their bosses,” Norcross said.

Moore said he does not agree that retaliation is a concern.

“If it was apparent to me that any dean retaliated against a faculty member, staff or student on the basis of a review, that would be a very serious offense and we have lots of strong and stringent rules around retaliation. That’s not accepted and not tolerated,” he said.

The faculty assembly resolution called on Moore to resolve its grievances with the changes or to affirm the authority of the Administrator Appraisal Committee.

Faculty members and administrators will continue to discuss the issue, Moore said.