Faculty surveys give Pacheco, Sypherd bad marks

By Zach Thomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 5, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat

University President, Manuel Pacheco


The results of an UA faculty survey made public yesterday gave overall negative ratings to University President Manuel Pacheco and Provost Paul Sypherd.

Sypherd later questioned the survey's methods and use of anonymous sources at yesterday afternoon's Faculty Senate meeting.

"I'm confident that faculty do not wish to have their performance reviews conducted without reference to duties and performance objectives," Sypherd said of the survey, "or in a manner that invites ... injurious comments."

The survey, which was written and tabulated by the Committee of Eleven, a Faculty Senate executive body, denoted leadership, goals and communication as among six dimensions that were reviewed by the faculty.

"The primary reason it was done was to give feedback to the provost and the president," said Lawrence Aleamoni, chairman of the Committee of Eleven. "We weren't looking at this as a personnel issue. It was an information issue."

The 64-statement survey asked faculty members to rate the president's and provost's current roles at the University of Arizona by confirming or denying statements on the survey.

Eleven questions about general campus well-being were also included. They cited an improvement in research program quality but also indicated a stagnant faculty morale and a lack of faculty-administration communication.

Two identical questionnaires, one for Sypherd and another for Pacheco, were sent to all 2,159 voting UA faculty members at separate times last spring. About 25 percent completed them.

Only three statements yielded an overall positive response from faculty about Pacheco. Twenty were negative, two split between positive and negative, and 27 remained undecided, the results stated.

A majority of the faculty responded positively to eight statements about Sypherd. Seventeen were negative overall, three split and 24 remained undecided.

The survey highlights included:

The surveys also included a section for written responses but did not provide a space for respondents to identify themselves.

"The Committee of Eleven's insistence on releasing anonymous comments, in my mind, raises serious procedural and ethical issues," Sypherd said.

Aleamoni said anonymity was necessary.

"We have a lot of faculty reluctant to have themselves identified for fear of punitive action," he said.

Susan Heckler, a survey research expert and acting head of the Marketing Department, said the questionnaire was flawed.

"It is not valid," she said, citing multiple grammatical errors within the first questionnaire sent.

"Why should we not hold ourselves accountable for the research we do on our administration when we hold ourselves to such a high standard of academic integrity?" she said of the inconsistencies.

"It could possibly set the tone whether faculty considered this serious," she said.

Heckler said that her initial reaction as an individual was "someone is trying to set these guys up."

"I know that there has been this sort of adversarial relationship between certain faculty members and the administration," she said.

Aleamoni called the survey results an "information tool" and said, "The process is really in the hands of the provost and the president now."

Sypherd also stressed his openness, despite disagreements with the survey's methods.

"Results of the opinion poll provide me with a picture of areas that need my attention for improvement," Sypherd said. "I will reflect on their (faculty) comments and reflections."

Aleamoni said the survey's cost was no more than $2,500.

Written responses accompanying the questionnaire ranged from positive to negative to shocking, though the majority were negative.

Pacheco was said to be a "warm, pleasant person" by one faculty member while others considered him "reactive, rather than proactive" and "ineffective."

Another faculty member wrote Sypherd was an "effective academic leader" while another wrote, "Asking me to evaluate Provost Sypherd is like asking a Slavic peasant to share his thoughts with Attila the Hun."

Aleamoni admitted some of the language published along with the surveys was hostile but said it represented a cross-section of responses received.

"What we're not wanting to do is make decisions," he said. "We simply put out a representation and let readers draw conclusions."

Reporter Trigie Ealey contributed to this report.