Likins agrees to interim faculty protection plan
UA President Peter Likins formally approved a temporary whistle-blower policy for the university on Friday Feb. 12, just as a legislative bill threatened to turn control over to the state.
Likins announced the adoption of an interim policy in anticipation of a finalized plan expected in March from the University of Arizona Faculty Senate.
"Even though the draft document still requires further detailed review, I have decided to adopt it without further delay," Likins stated in a memo. He was unavailable for comment Thursday.
The president is responding to accusations that the university has been inactive in creating its own whistle-blower policy, said Timothy Troy, Academic Personnel Policy Committee co-chair.
"He is close to liking the current policy, but wording problems bugged people," Troy said, adding that the acceptance of an interim policy shows the Legislature that the university is dealing with the problem.
Troy said that Likins formally accepted the plan as a strategic move in response to legislative criticism. While Faculty Senate members are not competing with the state bill, they are feeling pressured by the proposition, he added.
"If we're being criticized, we'll be affected by that and try to meet more often," he said.
On Monday, the Academic Personnel Policy Committee met with representatives from Arizona State and Northern Arizona Universities to compare policies and continue to reform the internal whistle-blower rule.
The plan's interim draft was created by university officials after the Legislature last year proposed mandating guidelines for protection of university whistle-blowers.
The bill was killed last February, when the three Arizona universities' presidents requested the matter be handled internally.
While the Faculty Senate continues to work with the university policy, the state Senate is handling a new bill that would cement the matter in Arizona law.
On Monday, the bill passed the Senate Government and Environmental Stewardship Committee, and will be reviewed next in the Senate Rules Committee.
Carol Bernstein, president of the University of Arizona chapter of the American Association of University Professors, helped initiate the state bill and said it should become law regardless of university policy.
She said that the interim policy is very defective and doesn't think that university protection is satisfactory.
The major reason an internal UA policy hasn't been completed is that it must be compatible with staff, faculty, and appointed personnel handbooks and appeal to all employees, Troy said.
"We're trying to create a policy that speaks to all groups," he said. "That's a little tricky."