The Fort Lewis College Faculty Senate voted on Jan. 18 to require confidentiality, at the provost’s request, among members of an advisory committee to the provost.
The vote for confidentiality won 9-7 with two senators abstaining from the vote.
A concern is that the confidentiality agreement violates Colorado’s open meetings laws.
Personnel matters, such as the committee talking about a specific faculty member, are typically exempt from open meetings laws, meaning that the meeting can be closed to the public for the purpose of that specific discussion.
The purpose of the reduction-in-force committee is to advise and provide feedback to the provost about potential budget cuts within Academic Affairs, Faculty Senate President David Blake said.
Earlier in January, the FLC chapter of the American Association of University Professors recommended that the administration should not force faculty members to sign confidentiality agreements as a condition to discussing budgetary matters.
“By signing confidentiality agreements, it gives the impression of trying to hide something,” Janine Fitzgerald, FLC AAUP chapter leadership member, said. “Although they argue that, for budgetary decisions, they need to have confidentiality to move forward, we disagree.”
Provost Barbara Morris said that confidentiality is important because the committee will discuss sensitive issues.
“Since the majority of our budget in Academic Affairs is personnel, and people’s jobs may be impacted, it is important to maintain confidentiality,” Morris said in an email.
The confidentiality requirement was recommended by the Colorado Attorney General’s office, Fitzgerald said.
The language of the recommendation has not been made public, but Morris said in the email that the Attorney General’s office is preparing a statement.
The Independent requested a copy of the confidentiality agreement from Morris, which she supplied. The agreement can be viewed at the bottom of this article.
The committee has already met multiple times with the provost, Blake said.
The committee is made up of nine Faculty Senate members:
- David Blake - Biology
- Paul Clay - Management
- Betty Door - Psychology
- Lee Frazer - Adventure Education
- Michael Fry - History
- Melissa Knight-Maloney - Exercise Science
- Astrid Oliver - Library
- Michael Valdez - Management
- Jillian Wenburg - Composition