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Faculty Senate to consider whistle-blower policy today

By Tate Williams
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 1, 1999
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UA officials today will present a revised whistle-blower policy to the Faculty Senate as the university attempts to head off state intervention.

University of Arizona administrators are attempting to implement an acceptable whistle-blower policy before an Arizona Legislature bill takes the matter out of university control.

The UA's Academic Personnel Policy Committee recently amended the university's policy - intended to increase protection for employees who report "wrongful conduct" within a department.

"What it's been in essence is a race," said Tim Troy, co-chair of the committee. "We didn't want it to be like that."

Troy said the current draft is very close to a consensus, based on reactions from faculty senators who have read it so far.

"I think the response will be quite good," he said, adding that the plan will probably not pass at today's meeting.

If the policy is not accepted, the Faculty Senate may hold a second March meeting to implement it as soon as they possibly can, Troy said.

With the Legislature's bill soon expected to pass the state Senate and move to the House of Representatives, the UA committee is under pressure to create a document similar to the state's plan, he added.

The Faculty Senate is attempting to mirror Arizona's plan, but it also wants to keep the Arizona Board of Regents in control, he added.

The new version changes the procedure's wording and attempts to ensure that a neutral officer will oversee the hearing, as chosen by "mutual agreement" by the university and the whistle-blower.

The revision was based on input from UA attorneys, Staff Advisory Council, Appointed Personnel Organization and the two other Arizona universities.

Jeffrey Warburton, presiding officer of the Faculty Senate, said he is confident the proposal will pass at today's assembly and hopes the issue will remain within UA control.

"We've got to bring some closure to it sooner or later," he said.

Arizona State University has already passed a new version of its policy, while Northern Arizona University's Senate will hear its amendment today.

Cindy Bailey, the Arizona Senate rules attorney, said that if the bill reaches the governor and becomes law, the universities would have to conform to the legislation.

Bailey said she does not know if the changes within the schools will affect the bill's passage. She added, however, that it has almost passed the Senate and will soon move to the House of Representatives.