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Faculty Affairs Committee Minutes (09-13-07)

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2007 (Humanities Conference Room)
Present: Stacey Parker Aronson (chair & SCFA representative), Bart Finzel, Tom Mahoney, Argie Manolis, Alex Murphy, Michelle Page and Timna Wyckoff.
Absent: Bart Finzel.
The meeting was called to order at 11:00 a.m.

Backfill Fund & Backfill Funding Policy
We edited and finalized drafts of the Backfill Fund and the Backfill Funding Policy. The document we sent to the Commission on Women for input is as follows:

October ??, 2007

To: Jacqueline Johnson, UMM Chancellor and Roland Guyotte, UMM Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

From: Sara Haugen, Coordinator, UMM Commission on Women and Stacey Parker Aronson, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee

Subject: Backfill Fund & Backfill Funding Policy

The Commission on Women has been discussing the issues of backfill for a number of years. The Faculty Affairs Committee recently began to take part in this discussion. Together, we have assumed the task of examining UMM's policies as they relate to colleague overload and/or backfill for faculty and P&As on Planned Leaves (maternity or parental leaves, among other) or Unplanned Leaves (illness, among others).

In our discussions, we asked the following questions: Do UMM's current policies actively support faculty and P&A members? How do these Planned and Unplanned leaves affect colleagues? Does UMM have a family-friendly culture? The answers were not altogether positive. Although UMM has instituted a number of policies over the years to increase support for faculty members—including six weeks paid maternity leave and the extension of the tenure clock for faculty—, the institution has not developed policies that address the challenges presented to the faculty and P&A colleagues of those on leave: additional workload, classes, honors projects, directed studies, advisees, and search committees. True to the UMM culture, colleagues continue to “step up to the plate,” but the toll on their professional and personal lives can be damaging, may create hostility or resentment toward faculty members who choose to have children or leave in the middle of a semester due to illness of themselves or a loved one, and, ultimately be detrimental to our students. In addition, the perception among the faculty members we talked to is that there is an expectation that they take on colleagues’ classes, workload and/or other responsibilities as uncompensated overload. Faculty and P&A members are not under the impression that these arrangements are truly voluntary and, indeed, some courses must absolutely be taught in order to fulfill catalogue obligations, and many other non courses related requirements must also be met.

The Commission on Women and the Faculty Affairs Committee, working with a number of faculty and P&A members, have developed recommendations that would increase support for faculty and P&A members on Planned and Unplanned leaves as well as for their colleagues who take on additional responsibilities.

(1) We, the members of the Commission on Women and the Faculty Affairs Committee, would like to recommend the creation of a Backfill Fund to cover the hiring of faculty and P&A members, either from within (UMM) or elsewhere (e.g. TC campus graduate students) in the event of a Planned Leave or an Unplanned Leave that extends beyond two weeks. We also request that reassignments be creatively carried out so as to benefit the institution, and students, as well as the faculty and P&A colleagues.

(2) We would also like to recommend that UMM create a Backfill Funding Policy that is clear and consistent across all units. The policy should actively encourage units to hire someone to fill positions when a leave has been or will be longer than two weeks.

Therefore, we offer the following suggestions with respect to a Backfill Funding Policy:

  1. Compensate faculty and P&A colleagues who voluntarily take on additional workload.


Once a compensation policy is adopted, faculty and P&A members should be made aware of this option when making their decision about taking on additional responsibilities in a colleague's absence. Overload compensation could be paid from the funds set aside for backfill.

  1. Only in exceptional circumstances should a full-time tenure-track faculty member be asked to accept an overload.


  1. Relief from committee responsibilities should be extended to all faculty and P&A members taking on additional responsibilities related to Planned or Unplanned leaves.
  1. Overloads should be considered a recognized service to UMM.


Many employees take on the additional responsibilities to support their colleagues, to ensure that students continue to receive the instruction and help that they need to succeed, and because they are not aware that there are other options. Unpaid overload can negatively affect morale and create resentment towards the institution. It can also create a hostile climate for the faculty and P&A upon their return from leave. In fact, there may be an implied expectation that they need to make up for their colleagues’ inconvenience while they were on leave. This situation is especially problematic for tenure-track faculty for whom such resentment or disapproval might impact or be perceived to impacttenure decisions. In addition, it has also been suggested that colleagues are more congenial about filling in in the case of illness or emergency than for childbirth or adoption, which many consider a lifestyle choice (how many children to have, how often to have them, etc.)

There is currently no formal policy regarding backfill, and backfill compensation has been inconsistently implemented; some units have financially compensated colleagues for filling in while others have not. The new policy that is formulated should be explicit: hiring replacements is not the only option, but we strongly encourage it whenever possible.

These recommendations acknowledge the significant time commitment that overload entails, a sacrifice of time that may negatively affect the family life, professional life, research and creative activity, and community involvement of a faculty or P&A.

The intent of these recommendations is to create a supportive, humane campus climate for all faculty and P&A members. We believe that the creation of a Backfill Fund and the adoption of a Backfill Funding Policy will enhance the environment for UMM, students, faculty and P&A members. They will create a campus where everyone is treated as positively as possible, where family life choices are supported and which models a healthy work environment. They will also provide UMM with a powerful recruiting tool: a family friendly policy that will show prospective faculty and P&A members how forward thinking UMM is and give UMM a competitive advantage in hiring and retaining the best and the brightest.  Having no Backfill Fund and Backfill Funding Policy may actually be a deterrent to the recruitment of faculty and P&A members at UMM. We believe that implementing these recommendations is critical to the well-being of our faculty and P&A members and, ultimately, to UMM's goal of excellence. We are happy to discuss these recommendations with you.


Once we receive approval from the Commission on Women, we will send the document to the Chancellor and to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.


We are preparing a document to be sent to Faculty and P&A members via e-mail detailing what we have done and requesting future agenda items. The document is as follows:

As a committee representing the interests of Faculty and P&As, the Faculty Affairs Committee wants to know what issues are of concern to you. We are in the process of developing our agenda for 2007-08. Please send possible agenda items to Stacey Parker Aronson at or to one of your representatives.

Here are some of the issues we have dealt with so far with you in mind:

  1. Served as sounding board for the Chancellor, the Dean, the Faculty Development Committee, the Morris Academic Staff Association, the Faculty Center for Learning and Teaching as well as Search Committees;
  2. Gathered input on unfunded faculty research and creative activities;
  3. Provided input for the revised SOTS based on a survey we conducted with faculty;
  4. Advocated in favor of individual discipline in danger of being eliminated;
  5. Defended Faculty and P&A interests to the Strategic Planning Task Force;
  6. Authored a section of the Strategic Plan dealing with Faculty Scholarship to ensure faculty representation in the Strategic Plan and to guarantee that all research and creative activity be recognized, not only that research conducted with students (p. 11, last two bullet points);
  7. Recommended to the Chancellor and the Dean the creation of a Backfill Fund to hire replacements or to fairly compensate colleagues who fill in for colleagues in the event of a Planned Leave (maternity or parental leaves) or an Unplanned Leave (illness) and the adoption of a Backfill Funding Policy.


The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Stacey Parker Aronson
Chair, Faculty Affairs Committee