In the spring of 2021 the Board of Trustees passed a motion requiring a “complete review of the Faculty Handbook.” This review will provide us the opportunity to bring our Faculty Handbook inline with best practice and to ensure that our Handbook enables the great work we envision ourselves doing in the coming years. Clear and well-written policy manuals, such as a Faculty Handbook, create certainty and clarity, allowing all of us to do our best work. Academic Affairs is looking forward to this project.

Process

The process of revising the OWU Faculty Handbook involves seven (7) iterative cycles in which the Faculty Handbook text is reviewed, changes are discussed, and a revised draft is delivered by our consultant. The process includes faculty input at every stage. Input from other constituencies, such as the Administration and Trustees, is solicited at appropriate points in the process. 

This work will be collaborative. We have formed an eight-person Review Team consisting of five faculty, the Provost, the Associate Provost, and an external facilitator. These individuals will review and provide feedback on 7 revised drafts of the Faculty Handbook over the course of the next year. Faculty committees will be consulted, and the input of the Faculty as a whole will also be included. Trustees will be kept informed in a parallel process, and their feedback will be provided to the Review Team at intervals through the external facilitator.

Milestones

This project will involve at least seven (7) drafts. Each draft is accompanied by a facilitated discussion and a revision. This cycle of facilitation and revision culminates in presenting a handbook draft to the faculty at the April 27 faculty meeting and a draft of the new handbook to the Board on May 11 & 12. 

Date Deliverable Status
August 17 Draft #1 DONE
October 3 Draft #2  DONE
November 7 Draft #3 - Delivered to faculty committees IN PROGRESS
December 15 Draft #4  
January 20 Draft #5 - Delivered to all faculty  
January Open Meetings with Faculty  
February 17 Draft #6  
March Open Meetings with Faculty  
March 31 Draft #7  
April 27 Faculty Meeting and Vote on Handbook  
May 11 & 12 Board Meeting  

Why Revise the Faculty Handbook?

A Faculty Handbook is a foundational document that defines the relationship of faculty to the University. It sets the framework for the rights and responsibilities of faculty in the context of what we value as an institution. It provides clarity and certainty about how processes work. A faculty handbook should provide for equity and transparency. It should be possible for a new faculty member to read the Faculty Handbook and completely understand what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated. 

The current Faculty Handbook has not undergone a comprehensive review in decades. It is now a patchwork of revisions that, while well-meaning, lack a sense of cohesion and clarity. This revision allows us an opportunity to align the handbook with what we value. For example, we can include relevant language about the OWU Connection in a revised handbook. 

A Faculty Handbook is reviewed so that it better serves faculty and the institution. A revision provides an opportunity to bring the Faculty Handbook inline with best practice and to ensure that the handbook enables the great work we envision ourselves doing in the coming years. Clear and well-written policy manuals, such as a Faculty Handbook, create certainty and clarity, allowing all of us to do our best work. 

Why revise the Faculty Handbook? Because we can do better work and serve our students better if our organizing document is clear, readable, accurate, and complete. 

Who Is Doing This Work? 

In the Spring 2022 semester, we formed a Faculty Handbook Review Team consisting of the following individuals in collaboration with Stephen Lazarus of Stevens Strategy as facilitator in this process. Please see our communication archive for more detail on how the faculty were selected. 

Phokeng Dailey - Faculty Member in Journalism and Communication
Sarah Kaka - Faculty Member in Education
John Krygier - Faculty Member in Environment and Sustainability
Stephanie Merkel - Faculty Member in English
Randy Quaye - Faculty Member in Africana, Gender, and Identity Studies
Karlyn Crowley - Provost
Dale Brugh - Associate Provost for Academic Affairs

Early in this project, the work will be primarily conducted by this team. As the project progresses to draft #2 and #3, more members of the OWU community will be involved. 

Who Is the Facilitator?

An important member of this group is the facilitator. The facilitator’s role is to help us navigate this challenging task by bringing external best practice examples for us to consider and by drafting, revising, and reorganizing parts of the Handbook when needed. The facilitator is an enabler who relieves us of the responsibility for inventing a process for revising the Handbook. The facilitator will allow us to focus on content and not how we review content. A good facilitator is key to allow us to revise the Faculty Handbook with minimal additional burden on members of the community. 

Ohio Wesleyan has hired Stephen Lazarus, of Stevens Strategy, to serve in the role of facilitator. This decision comes after completing several interviews with potential individuals and companies who do faculty handbook review nationally as well as checking the satisfaction of previous colleges and universities who used their services. We believe we have not only a skilled partner for this important work, but someone considered the best in higher education in faculty handbook review. 

What Has Already Happened?

The Faculty Handbook Review team met with Stephen Lazarus three time over the summer of 2022 to learn about the process he uses to facilitate a handbook revision and to talk twice about policy matters that would influence draft #1. The first draft was delivered to Faculty Handbook Review Team on August 17, and the team had regular facilitation meetings since then to arrive at consensus on the content of both draft #2 and now draft #3. 

What is Happening Right Now?

The Review Team has provided feedback that has allowed our facilitator to provide us with draft #3 of the handbook. In line with our project plan, portions of draft #3 are being distributed to standing faculty committees for their input. The feedback provided by the Faculty's elected representatives will be used by the Review Team to inform draft #4. 

What Are the Opportunities for Input? 

Committee Input: The Faculty Handbook Review Team will review draft #1 and draft #2 of the Handbook with our facilitator. Portions of draft #3 will be shared with key faculty committees such as University Governance and the Faculty Personnel Committee prior to producing draft #4. A subsequent draft, likely draft #5, will be shared with the faculty has a whole. As a reminder, there will be seven (7) drafts of the faculty handbook.

Open Meetings: We anticipate there will be at least two sets of open meetings with faculty hosted by the Faculty Handbook Review Team to gather feedback. We anticipate that the first set of open meetings will take place in January and/or early February around release of draft #5. We anticipate that the second round of open meetings will be held in late February and/or early March around release of draft #6. The Faculty Handbook Review Team may choose to host additional open meetings. Standing faculty committees may also have open meetings at their discretion to gather faculty input and channel thoughts to the Faculty Handbook Review Team.