The following 100 proposed facts represent the evidence in support of my conclusions of law sent to the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VRLB) on March 1, 2018. The facts below, particularly #44, stand as an indictment ofUVM’s top brass, its Department of Economics (particularly its Chair) and the overall process of faculty review. As I argued before the Board, what happened to me represents a “total system failure” of faculty review. Still, the Board might conclude there were no contract right violations no matter how egregious the proven behavior of UVM and its managers. As my research has discovered, it is very rare for the VRLB to decide against UVM when it comes to reappointment and tenure decisions as they acknowledge. In fact, to win such a grievance is nothing short of a miracle. The Board is now reviewing all the arguments and evidence and will make a decision in April. ~JS
PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACTS AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
NOW COMES John Summa (“Grievant”), acting pro se, who respectfully requests that the Vermont Labor Relations Board find the following facts and reach the conclusions of law presented forthwith with respect to alleged wrongful denial of the Grievant’s reappointment in the Department of Economics of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College (“UVM”).
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
On June 20, 2017, the Grievant petitioned the Vermont Labor Relations Board seeking a review of the procedures used by the UVM to deny reappointment of his full-time lecturer position. The Grievant’s contract terminated without renewal on May 31, 2017 following the Dean’s decision to not reappoint the Grievant earlier in 2017, and after denial of his grievances at Step 2 and Step 3, filed pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between UVM and United Academics (AAUP/AFT).
The Grievant alleged that UVM violated Article 14.13 of the CBA, specifically 14.13 a, 14.13.c (pursuant to 6.2), 14.13.d, as well as Articles 14.4 and 14.5 e.(i). What follows is first a presentation of the key issues (questions) involved. This is followed by proposed findings of facts, argument and application of law to these facts, and conclusions of law.
- Did the Dean’s decision to not reappoint the Grievant rely on a Chair’s evaluation and summary statement that is not supported by the factual record?
- Did the Dean rely on peer letters containing procedural defects due to the Chair’s failure to conduct any ad hoc peer reviews given past practices of doing so?
- Did the Dean’s decision arbitrarily rely on a single, self-defined criterion for what constitutes efforts to improve teaching in lieu of all other evidence in the Grievant’s Greensheets and dossier?
- Did the Dean’s sole reliance on peer letters and their concerns violate the Grievant’s contract rights, given that the Dean acknowledged CTL course enrollment and faculty engagement by the Grievant?
- Did the Dean’s decision to deny reappointment violate the Grievant’s academic freedom by relying on peer claims of unwarranted Grievant criticism of the standard model and his “provocative” statements about deforestation and carbon pollution?
- Are provocative statements about pressing topics of great public concern protected areas of speech — regardless of the matter of teaching a standard model fully and fairly?
- Can any provocative statements related to course content involving a great public concern be a valid basis for denying the Grievant’s reappointment?
PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACTS
Based on the pleadings and evidence submitted to the VRLB, the Grievant requests that the Board make the following findings of facts:
1. The Grievant began teaching economics in 1989 at the college level and would later be employed in August of 2009 by the University of Vermont as a full-time lecturer in the Department of Economics. (Grievant Exhibit 34; UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
3. During the 8 academic years of full-time teaching at UVM in the Department of Economics, the Grievant lectured a total of 78 sections (courses), from introductory to advanced level. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
4. Two of the sections taught at UVM by the Grievant were specifically developed for, and offered through, the Honors College at UVM, which required detailed course proposals from the Grievant, and acceptance by the Honors College, before being scheduled. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24; Grievant Exhibit 7)
5. Included in the 78 course sections lectured and completed by the Grievant were 14 consecutive sections of EC170, Statistical Methods. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
6. Included in the 78 course sections lectured and completed by the Grievant were 14 summer sections of economics delivered through the Continuing Ed division at UVM (CE) during each of the 8 summers of employment. Some of these sections were offered by the Global Gateways Program and US-SINO Pathways Program at UVM. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
7. The following Dept. of Economics course sections were lectured by the Grievant to more than two thousand students: Economics Methods (EC170), Economics of Globalization (EC40), History of Economic Thought (EC l18, formerly EC196), International Econ I: Trade I (EC143), International Econ. II: Finance (ER146), Econometrics (EC200), Principles of Microeconomics (EC12) and Principles of Macroeconomics (EC11) and The Global Financial Crisis (EC220). (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
8. During employment as a lecturer, the Grievant developed, presented and led the following seminar: The Global Financial Crisis (EC220). This seminar was presented and completed a total of six (6) different semesters across his eight (8) years of teaching economics at UVM. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
9. In Spring of 2011, the Grievant developed and taught the following course: The History of Financial Crises in the United States (HCOL195), which was proposed, then accepted, designed and presented to students of the Honors College at UVM. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
10. In Spring of 2011, while not required per his lecturer duties, the Grievant agreed to be a thesis committee member at the request of REDACTED, a student who was writing his honors thesis. Other committee faculty members were then-Dean of the Honors College Abu Rizvi and Sheila O’Leary Weaver. Interaction with committee faculty members and the student were key responsibilities. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
11. In Spring of 2011, while not required per his lecturer duties, the Grievant agreed to be a senior thesis committee member at the request of REDACTED, a student who was writing his senior thesis. Other committee faculty members were Donna Ramirez Harrington (Dept. of Economics) and Arthur Kuflik. Interaction with committee faculty members and the student were key responsibilities. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
12. In Spring of 2011, while not required per his lecturer duties, the Grievant agreed to be a senior thesis committee member at the request of REDACTED, a student who was writing his thesis. Other committee faculty members were Katrinell M. Davis (Sociology Dept.) and Moustapha Diouf. Interaction with committee faculty members and the student were key responsibilities. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
13. In Spring of 2012, while not required per his lecturer duties, the Grievant agreed to be a senior thesis committee member at the request of REDACTED, a student who was writing his thesis. Other committee faculty members were Susanna Schrafstetter (History Dept.) and Ian Grimmer. Interaction with committee members and student were key responsibilities. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
14. Prior to the Grievant’s 2012 reappointment review, and unrelated to reappointment and RPT, the Chair ordered ad hoc peer visits to the Grievant’s classes to assess teaching quality and provide formative reviews and feedback. Three ad hoc peer visits were conducted by the Chair prior to the Grievant’s 2013 reappointment, as was a common practice by the Chair when concerns arose about teaching. (Grievant Narrative testimony 20180215-1116 at 3:01-7:28; Grievant Exhibits 63 and 61)
15. In October of 2012, the Grievant was reviewed by his peers in the Dept. of Economics for his first 4-year reappointment, after which he was voted reappointed, with 6 in favor and 2 voting against his reappointment. Then-Dean Antonio Cepeda-Benito reappointed the Grievant for another four years, acknowledging he “meets departmental expectations,” while concluding that “I encourage him to continue to work with the Center for Teaching and Learning to find a way to present difficult concepts more effectively. I will be looking for evidence of improvement in this respect in his next review.” (UVM Exhibit 7, p. 000022)
16. During an email exchange with Chair Solnick on December 8, 2012 just before reappointment, the Grievant expressed interest in taking steps that he would “benefit greatly” such as enrollment in CTL workshops, engaging faculty more, visiting lectures by highly rated faculty and having additional peer visits to classes in the next semester. The last item was expressed with the following statement: “I think I would benefit from another round of visits to my classes by you or others maybe middle of next semester.” The Chair replied: “We can arrange more visits but we have to be clear on the purpose. We can give more formative feedback with the goal of giving insight into what is working well or needs attention.” (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 2:15-14:52; Grievant Exhibit 20)
17. During the same email exchange noted above in paragraph 17, the Grievant also inquired about how student evaluations are weighted relative to peer observations. The Chair stated in reply: “As for what carries more weight, I think the faculty reviews carry more weight because it is generally accepted that students systematically give higher/lower ratings based on factors that do not relate to the quality of teaching. For example, on average men get rated more highly than women. We trust the assessment of our colleagues more than that of the students.” The majority of faculty in the Department are women, but the majority of students are men. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 2:15-14:52; Grievant Exhibit 20)
18. During the same email exchange noted above in paragraphs 17 and 18, Chair Solnick suggested to the Grievant that he pursue “ad hoc” engagement with faculty about improving the Grievant’s teaching. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 2:15-14:52; Grievant Exhibit 20)
19. In early 2013, following the Grievant’s reappointment by then-Dean Antonio Cepeda- Benito, the Grievant scheduled a meeting with Dean Antonio Cepeda-Benito to discuss tactics for working on improving his teaching in several assessment areas that fell below expectations and track assessment data from student evaluations. The tracking data was later submitted with the Grievant’s 2016 Greensheets for inclusion in his dossier to show progress stemming from efforts aimed at presenting concepts more effectively. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 2:15-26:05; Grievant Exhibit 24)
20. In Spring of 2013, while not required per his lecturer duties, the Grievant agreed to be a senior thesis committee member in Spring 2013 at the request of REDACTED, a student who was writing his thesis. Other committee members included Bill Gibson (Economics Dept.) who the Grievant interacted with along with the student. Interaction with committee members and the student were key responsibilities. (UVM Exhibits 6 and 24)
21. Concerned about seeking additional ways to feel less isolated (and “estranged”), in 2011 the Grievant under oath stated that he had sought more engagement with faculty members in the Department of Economics by requesting that the Chair allow him to attend monthly department meetings. He request was denied by the Chair. The Chair said to the Grievant that only “regular faculty” were allowed to attend monthly meetings, which left the Grievant feeling “resentful”. Following reappointment in 2013, and at the behest of the Chair, the Grievant again sought entry to regular monthly department meetings. The Chair again initially declined. Finally, after another email by the Grievant, the Chair said she would ask faculty to make a decision. The exclusion from department meetings also included exclusion from annual retreats and the department email list. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 6:33-15:58)
22. The Grievant testified under oath about the efforts he undertook to be allowed to attend meetings and participate in department matters. He was excluded from attending monthly meetings from 2009 until Spring 2015, and was not allowed to attend his first annual retreat until Summer of 2015. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 15:58-23:41)
23. In February of 2013, the Grievant indicated to Chair Solnick that he had found CTL courses he was interested in enrolling in and sought advice about what the Chair thought “will constitute the best in terms of my situation from your perspective”. (Grievant Exhibit 70)
24. Between Spring 2013 and Summer 2015, the Grievant enrolled in five CTL workshops: Bridging the Gaps, 1: Creating More Inclusive Teaching Environments (morning), taught by Henrietta Amor-Paz and other CTL instructors; Bridging the Gaps, II: Creating More Inclusive Teaching Environments, taught by Holly Parker and other CTL instructors (afternoon); Practices for Engaging Students (a multiple-part sequence designed for help with large enrollment classes), taught by Hope Greenberg and other instructors; Summer Bridge Program Workshop for Instructors, taught by Dana Sehovic and other instructors; and Teaching Effectively Online at CTL by Carolyn Siccama and other instructors. He also engaged in multiple one-on-one training sessions with Hope Greenberg, a CTL instructor. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 2:52-14:52; UVM Exhibit 49, p. 000138-140; Grievant Exhibit 18)
25. In the Spring of 2015, the Grievant taught the following Grievant-designed course, Alt-Econ: Rethinking Homo Economicus (HCOL186). This was presented to Honors College sophomore students in Spring 2015 after approval by the Honors College. The class was structured around improving engagement with students through use of in-class games, experiments and assigned field work. (Grievant Exhibit 7; UVM Exhibit 24, p. 000058).
26. In the Spring of 2015, while not required per his lecturer duties, the Grievant agreed to be a thesis committee member at the request of REDACTED, a student who was writing his senior thesis. Committee faculty members included Bill Gibson (Economics Dept.). Interaction with committee faculty members and the student were key responsibilities. (UVM Exhibit 24, p. 000060)
27. Between the Grievant’s Fall 2012-13 reappointment review and his 2016-17 second 4- year review, he engaged with the following faculty:
-Sara Solnick (Econ Dept. Chair), who the Grievant invited to review EC118
-Antonio Cepeda-Benito (Former Dean CAS), met with to track data to monitor attempts by the Grievant to make teaching improvements.
-Alec Ewald (Former Interim Associate Dean of Honors College), who met with the Grievant to discuss Grievant’s own mid-semester instructor-initiated student evaluations.
-Ross Thomson (Full Professor Economics) to discuss plans to visit Thomson’s EC 12 lecture by the Grievant (which was visited).
-Emily Beam (new hire, Assistant Professor of Economics), who the Grievant met with to share experiences the Grievant had with teaching EC200, which Beam was scheduled to begin teaching.
-Shirley Gideon (CTL founding director and widely considered outstanding teacher), with whom the Grievant regularly and informally had discussions with related to teaching tactics and course design.
(Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 2:15-14:52; UVM Exhibit 44, p. 000118; UVM Exhibit 49 pp.138-139)
28. After the Grievant’s 2013 reappointment, for no explained reason, no ad hoc peer visits to the Grievant’s classes were ordered by the Chair despite concerns about teaching quality expressed by peer evaluators during the Grievant’s 2012 review for reappointment. (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000131)
29. In the Fall of 2016, the Grievant provided in his self-evaluation Greensheets, in preparation for his Department of Economics second 4-year reappointment review, the tracking data and charts related to evaluation rubrics deemed below expectations in 2013, as had been discussed in his meeting in 2013 with then-Dean Cepeda-Benito. This document was included in the Grievant’s dossier that went to the Department of Economics for review and later to the Dean for evaluation. The data (with charts and explanation) show positive changes in student evaluation rubric scores earlier found to be below expectations in the Grievant’s first four-year reappointment. The data was introduced with the following language by the Grievant:
Based on data presented below, significant improvements were made in two key areas identified as weak in my 1st 4-year review (based on student evaluations data). The areas examined below are: “Communicates in a clear way” and “Theoretical concepts handled effectively.” While scores below reveal a clear trend toward overall improvement, more work still needs to be done to achieve ideal levels of performance in certain areas. (Grievant narrative testimony; UVM Exhibit 24, p.1)
30. In the Fall of 2016, the Grievant provided the following statements in his self-evaluation 2016 Greensheets, reviewed by the Dean, as evidence of efforts to improve engagement with students:
Economic Games, Experiments and Fieldwork: Tools and Techniques for Engaging Students (Dollars & Sense, forthcoming, 2017) – Author
Book description: This project grew out of an Honors College course (at UVM) I designed and offered in Spring 2015 (HCOL 186A: Alt-Econ: Rethinking Homo Economicus). The book presents economic games, experiments and fieldwork. The aim is to offer teachers a powerful pedagogic tool aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of difficult economic concepts found in textbooks. This new book is a handbook of sorts, which will equip economics instructors working inside and outside conventional economics with a set of classroom (and out of classroom) activities that fully engage the student and develop critical insights into economic models, and their limitations.
(UVM Exhibit 24, p. 000057)
Courses I have developed and continue to teach or integrate into other courses:
-Developed and presented the following course: Alt-Econ: Rethinking Homo Economicus (HCOL186). This was presented to sophomore students of the Honors College in Spring 2015. Some course content has been integrated into relevant sections of other courses: EC l 1, EC12, EC210 (to be offered in Spring 2017), ECl18, EC143, EC146 and EC220)
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000048-49; p. 000058)
31. The Grievant added the following 2016 Greensheets statement related to this 2015 Honors College course as evidence of efforts to redesign courses aimed at stimulating student interest:
Some of the techniques first explored in HCOL186 [Honors College course] are utilized in other courses taught inside the economics curriculum at UVM’ s Dept. of Economics, where applicable.
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000048-49)
With a strong emphasis on critical inquiry inside an interdisciplinary and multi- paradigmatic teaching approach, I have approached curriculum design, construction and implementation creatively and carefully. Each course is delivered with the intention of maximizing student engagement and developing and improving techniques aimed at achieving a high degree of student interest in the subject of economics. Student and collegial feedback is welcome, and plays an essential role in an ongoing process aimed at fine tuning my teaching techniques and overall effectiveness. Feedback is incorporated into lesson planning and course organization with the objective of achieving optimal learning outcomes.
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000050)
32. The Grievant added the following additional language in his 2016 Greensheets as evidence of efforts to make classes more interdisciplinary and develop critical thinking ability:
(1) Through use of in-class experiments and games, plus the conducting of out-of- classroom field work, students explored conventional economic principles and alternative ways of thinking about the behavior of ‘economic man’ (and woman). The aim was to build an interdisciplinary approach to principles of economics through links to psychology, history, moral philosophy, anthropology, and sociology (among other fields). The course was challenging and stimulating and perfectly appropriate for sophomores.
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000054)
(2) The classroom setting served as a laboratory for self-generated data, which was evaluated in light of similar experimental research done elsewhere across different cultures, nations, classes, etc. The nature of the experiments makes it interdisciplinary. Students were required to identify and critically examine conventional thinking accessed in assigned supplemental readings (emphasis added).
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000048-49)
33. The Grievant explained how his Honors College course is integrated into specific Department of Economics courses:
— Economic Games and Experiments. Now becoming a book (see Section 4b) and based on teaching innovations that grew out of an Honors College Spring 2015 sophomore-level course (HCOL 186A: Alt Econ: Rethinking Homo Economicus), where students learned standard economic concepts (e.g., marginal productivity) through a classroom game or experiment (e.g., the tennis ball game). Additional innovation takes place when we, as a class, subject the assumptions in the model or concept to critical inquiry and then adjust the rules of the game. The subsequent results of the revised game are used to evaluate the model or concept. Among many other games used (some invented in class) include the now rather famous: Ultimatum Game and Ultimatum Dictator Game. The Ultimatum Game (which was not invented by this instructor) has garnered a great deal of attention, even receiving a MacArthur Fellowship to apply it across many cultures worldwide. Results of these experiments lead to discussions about sociological, psychological and neurological determinants of economic outcomes, as well as exploration of possible conflicts between altruism vs other-related agent behavior (taking into account how individual choice may involve more than hedonistic self-interest, etc.). EC 210 Topics in Political Economy (Spring 2017) will work the above methods into the course design.
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000058)
— Economic Field Work and Real World Investigation. Deployed in my Honors College course cited above (and given in Spring 2015), students were assigned to do field work (e.g., survey small business owners, collect responses and report results in class) in a search for evidence of behavior predicted by micro economics models (firm pricing, upward sloping marginal cost constrained firms, etc.). Survey results led to critical discussions around whether firms depicted in standard textbooks actually exist. This has led me to develop other ways to do field work that might work in larger group settings, like EC12 classes. One area that offers promise is virtual field work in the form of exploration of financial media (e.g., The Wall Street Journal and particularly the business trade press) for evidence revealing the actual behavior of business firms. How do they really price their products? How do they really set production levels? How to they behave in practice and how well does this behavior fit with the textbook rendition? The aim is to rethink certain principles, if warranted, in order to hopefully conceive models that better describe the workings of a modern market economy. Exploring policy implications, of course, would be a natural next step in the process. EC 210 Topics in Political Economy (Spring 2017) will work the above methods into the course design.
(UVM Exhibit 24, pp. 000058)
34. UVM Associate Dean Patricia Corcoran writes letter of support for the Grievant, which was included in the Grievant’s dossier. Below is an excerpt from the letter:
John’s strength as a teacher is well known by all in the Student Affairs Division of the Dean’s Office. He is a strong, caring and knowledgeable instructor who takes genuine interest in his students…. We are often the first folks to hear when a course is going poorly or when an instructor is perceived as weak. Conversely, we are also quite likely to hear when an instructor is exceptional- and that is the case with John. Students enjoy his classes, consider him to be approachable, fair and challenging…. We think John is a huge asset to UVM and are very happy to support him.
(Grievant Exhibit 73)
35. On October 5 of 2016, the Chair of the Department of Economics, in an email obtained through a public records request, shares with the Department of Economics faculty a note to faculty about the Corcoran letter of support for the Grievant’s reappointment:
I consulted with the Dean regarding this letter [from Dean Corcoran], and he agrees with me that it’s not appropriate for an Associate Dean to provide such a letter, since the Dean [William Falls] makes a decision/recommendation on the case at a later state of the process. However, he also agrees with me that there are no restrictions on what can be included, and therefore no way to exclude the letter.
(Grievant Exhibit 73)
36. In an email the Chair wrote to the Dean on October 4 regarding the Corcoran letter, the Chair states:
The item I am concerned about is a letter of support from Patty Corcoran, in which she speaks of herself and the entire Student Services staff. I don’t think it’s appropriate for an Associate Dean to announce that she is in favor (or against, as the case may be) a RPT candidate. The Dean’s Office reviews the dossiers in due course, and it seems premature for a Dean or AD to take a side at this stage, without seeing the evidence. It’s also awkward for us, since the decision may well go against Patty’s recommendation.
(Grievant Exhibit 49)
37. On October 14 of 2016, the Grievant was reviewed by his peers in the Dept. of Economics for his second 4-year reappointment, during which he was voted not reappointed by the Dept. of Economics, with ten (10) voting against and one (1) voting in favor of his reappointment. The Chair cited a “serious” concern the faculty had with the Grievant’s teaching of the standard economics model:
We appreciate that Summa includes critiques of the standard neoclassical model in his teaching. Faculty in our department often strive to emphasize where the standard model falls short as well as where it is successful in reflecting and predicting behavior. However, the model must be presented fully and fairly before its limitations are examined.
(UVM Exhibit 24, p. 000065)
38. The serious concern identified by the Chair was acknowledged to be the biggest content concern the faculty had when voting on the Grievant’s reappointment. Asked about the source for that concern, the Chair indicated that Dr. Ramirez-Harrington’s observations of EC 143 and Dr. Marc Law’s observations of EC220 were the only sources for this concern. She also indicated that the class she (the Chair) visited was one that covered non-standard model presentations and critiques, not standard models. (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 29:18-29:23; Solnick testimony, 20180214-1520 at 19:57-27:31 and at 36:55-38:31;Solnick testimony, 20180214-1520 at 27:35-29:52)
39. The Chair stated that the biggest concern faculty had about the Grievant’s teaching had contributed to the faculty having run “out of patience” and were thus “not willing to let him continue” (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 43:58-44:27; UVM Exhibit 51)
40. The Chair acknowledges that this biggest concern was not a concern noted in the Grievant’s 2012 reappointment review and that the Grievant was never informed by the Chair about this concern prior to his negative reappointment vote (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 42:05-43:38; UVM Exhibit 6, Grievant Exhibit 9)
41. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington explained what was required to teach the standard trade model “fully and fairly”. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 22:12-24:04)
42. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington was unable to explain how the Grievant was not teaching the standard model fully and fairly. In the class that she visited, it was acknowledged that the Grievant was teaching the exact same concepts Dr. Ramirez- Harrington teaches in her EC40 course on International trade. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 10:20 -13:06; 20:12-20:34; Grievant Exhibit 6)
43. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington acknowledged that the Grievant presented slides containing the same merits and conclusions about the standard trade model that she also presents. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 22:12-24:04; Grievant Exhibit 6)
44. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington acknowledged that the Grievant assigned homework aimed at applying the standard model to hypothetical data to demonstrate the merits of the model, and conclusions about the benefits of free trade predicted by the model, including a last slide containing the changes to producer and consumer surplus (winners and losers), which she identified as necessary concepts for teaching the standard model fully and fairly. She then was unable to explain the material basis for the Chair’s concern about the Grievant not teaching the standard trade model fully and fairly, except to say the Grievant did not explain these concepts well in her opinion. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 24:04-43:01)
45. Of the 10 slides used by the Grievant, and reviewed by Dr. Ramirez-Harrington, only two slides had any body text. The last slide contained the following bulleted text lines, with 4 words in each of the first four lines, followed by a longer line explaining how net welfare gains are calculated:
- Heartland producers gain surplus (+)
- Heartland consumers lose surplus (-)
- Orient producers lose surplus (-)
- Orient consumes gain surplus (+)
- Worldwide, net welfare gains from trade in corn are the sum of the net gains in Heartland and in Orient.(Grievant Exhibit 10)
46. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington indicated that the last slide in the slide set used by the Grievant in the class she visited was “text-heavy”, a concern she wrote in her peer letter that the Chair cited to the Dean. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 28:43-30:56)
47. The Dean wrote the following in denying the Grievant’s reappointment: “concerns were raised [by faculty] about text-heavy slides…” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000132)
48. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington acknowledged that the last slide’s text contained the changes to producer and consumer surplus needed to show the merits of the model and its main take away point of “net welfare gains from free trade”. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 38:05-43:01)
49. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged being aware prior to visiting the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis seminar that there were no Grievant plans to present any theory or standard models in the class he visited pursuantto the class design. Separately, in his peer letter, he criticized the lack of any theoretical content. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031at 1:45-11:17; UVM Exhibit 31)
50. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis he visited was designed as a mock courtroom exercise to empirically explore controversy surrounding subprime lending. The students were asked to read and prepare to debate a related affidavit written by the Grievant as an economic consultant. He also acknowledged that this part of the seminar was designed to explore the financial crisis through a mix of materials at an empirical level, and that theory and models would not be covered until later in the semester. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031at 1:45-11:17)
51. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that no model was presented in the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis seminar and that theory and models were to be covered (pursuant to the syllabus he acknowledged reading) later in the semester, through use of academic, peer-reviewed literature. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031 at 1:45-11:17)
52. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that no model was presented in the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis seminar and that theory and models were never planned for presentation in the class he visited, and instead would be covered (pursuant the syllabus he acknowledged reading) later in the semester. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-2031 at 1:45-11:17)
53. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law was unable to explain how the Department faculty’s “serious” and biggest concern that the Chair noted in her statement to the Dean (concerns about the Grievant’s not teaching the standard model fully and fairly) could originate in the class he visited given that there were no models presented of any kind, and that there was never any intention to do so by the Grievant. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031 at 1:45-11:17)
54. The Dean wrote the following in his evaluation of the Grievant’s teaching: “concerns were raised [by faculty] about …over reliance on non-academic reading materials.” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000132)
55. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that academic materials were required pursuant to the Grievant’s syllabus and were required to be researched and read, and that a minimum of six peer-reviewed academic articles were needed for student term papers. He acknowledged also that there are no guidelines in the Department of Economics for what percentage of academic materially is required or when it should be introduced into a seminar class. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031 at 1:45-11:17; Grievant Exhibit 75)
56. In an email summarizing Grievant concerns to another faculty member, dated October 21, 2016, the Chair states the following: “It is clear that we expect the standard model to be presented fully and fairly.” (UVM Exhibit 51)
57. The Chair states later in the same email cited above in paragraph 56 that faculty in the department have “even worse” student evaluations than the Grievant (after stating the Grievant’s are “acceptable”), adding that these poorer-rated faculty “are not considered a problem because they have good peer observations and are teaching good economics.” (UVM Exhibit 51)
58. Following the vote by the faculty of the Department of Economics, the Faculty Standards Committee voted five (5) in favor of the Grievant’s reappointment with zero (0) against reappointment, noting that the Grievant had “met the standard for reappointment based on his record of teaching a wide range of courses, including developing curricula for the Honors College, and from the satisfactory student evaluations scores he has received.” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000132)
59. During the Grievant’s narrative testimony, he stated that he faced hostility from several senior faculty to his heterodox teaching and ideas, and he gave examples of disrespectful treatment by peers. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 17:06)
60. The FSC noted a concern with the “process used by the Department of Economics to evaluate Dr. Summa.” The FSC wrote: “There have been no reported peer reviews of Dr. Summa’s teaching between 2013, when his reappointment was approved with cautionary language attached, and September 2016, less than a month before Dr. Summa’s reappointment and promotion paperwork was due. If the Department had concerns based upon faculty evaluations in 2013, why were there no periodic follow-up peer observations?” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000131)
61. Following the Department of Economics vote and FSC’s vote, Dean William Falls (College of Arts and Sciences) denied the Grievant’s reappointment, citing “peer concerns” about quality of teaching, and “no evidence that Dr. Summa has sought to improve his teaching by professional development, thoughtful engagement with colleagues, or significant course revision. Thus, I am electing to not reappoint Dr. Summa.”
(UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000133)
62. The Dean wrote the following in his evaluation of Dr. Summa:
The Dean encouraged Dr. Summa to work with the CTL to improve his teaching, and stated that he would “be looking for evidence of improvement in this respect in his next review.” (UVM Exhibit 45, pp. 000132-133)
63. The Grievant wrote in his rebuttal to the Chair’s statement to the Dean the following regarding engaging students: “I have flipped classes (see Jeopardy game and mock courtroom examples below, formed study circles, etc.)”. (UVM Exhibit 44, p. 000121)
64. Department of Economics Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure (RPT) guidelines have no requirement to take CTL courses. (UVM Exhibit 55, pp. 000180-181)
65. CBA RPT guidelines have no requirement to take CTL courses. (UVM Exhibit 55, pp. 000180-181)
66. Dean Antonio Cepeda-Benito “encouraged” use of CTL workshops, but did not state that they were required. (UVM Exhibit 7)
67. Pursuant to CBA Article 14.5.e(i), “effectiveness in teaching” is indicated by numerous factors including “evidence of the ability to work with other faculty member in designing and delivering curriculum that foster student learning.” (UVM Exhibit 55, pp. 000180-181)
68. Pursuant to CBA Article 14.5.e(i), there is no requirement to take CTL coursework. (UVM Exhibit 55, pp. 000180-181)
69. Pursuant to CBA Article 14.5.e(i), “Development by the candidate of new and effective techniques of instruction or assessment and instructional materials, including textbooks…” is one of the “measures” to evaluate the quality of teaching.
(UVM Exhibit 55, pp. 000180-181)
70. Chair Solnick acknowledges awareness of CTL course enrollment by the Grievant for an online course he designed and taught. (Solnick testimony, 20180214-1404 AT 45:17-46:03)
71. Dean Falls testified that he initially “relied” on two “measures” pursuant to Article 14.5.e(i) to deny reappointment of the Grievant: peer concerns and no evidence of CTL coursework undertaken and efforts at teaching improvement. Falls changes the argument under examination from evidence of CTL coursework taken to not teaching well in spite of any evidence. (Falls testimony, 20180214-1121 at 34:10-36:14)
72. Dean Falls testified that he acknowledged receiving evidence of “some” CTL coursework and faculty engagement undertaken by the Grievant in an informal meeting after denial of his reappointment but “Even if I had been aware that you had made the efforts, I would have come to this same conclusion.” Falls also states there was no evidence of efforts made by Grievant to improve teaching (Fall testimony, 20180214-1121 at 32:07-34:10; 20180214-1121 at 30:57-32:07; UVM Exhibit 47)
73. Dean Falls writes in his evaluation of the Grievant’s teaching that “many of the statements in his [Grievant] rebuttal to the negative promotion decision by the department and chair suggest a self-satisfied view of this teaching style and an unwillingness to embrace
criticism.” [UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000133)
74. In a February 3 of 2017 support letter for the Grievant that centered on the Grievant’s attendance at a CTL workshop (a letter presented to the Dean before filing his grievance), developer and co-facilitator of a 2013 CTL workshop, Sherwood Smith, Senior Executive director for Engagement and Professional Development at UVM, wrote: “the Grievant was an active participant in these sessions. From John’s conversations at the workshop and informal chats later I found him to be actively engaged in thinking about how to improve his curriculum and pedagogy to increase student success. As someone who works with issues of diversity in the classroom often, I was pleased that John showed an awareness of the diversity of identities and a personal enthusiasm for engaging all his students.” (UVM Exhibit 49, p. 000140)
75. In a February 3 of 2017 support letter for the Grievant, which was presented to the Dean in response to his reappointment denial before filing a grievance, former Interim Dean of the Honors College Alec Ewald (Associate Professor in the Political Science Dept.), describes interaction he had with the Grievant in March 2015 regarding the Grievant’s efforts at engagement with students: “John shared with me that he had adjusted his course, after the mid-stream evals, and then [had] done another set of follow-up evaluations a couple weeks later to gauge how well things were going. He was experimenting with some interesting games in the course, getting students out of the classroom for projects, and teaching creatively in general. He spoke with enthusiasm not only about the content of the course but also about gathering information he could use to assess and improve his effectiveness as an instructor. The Honors College at the time was pushing sophomore-seminar professors to begin to acquaint students with the nature of research in their disciplines, to have them write a lot, and to push for active student engagement in classroom activities, and I felt very comfortable that John was doing that.” (UVM Exhibit 49, p. 0001439)
76. In peer letters written by Department of Economics faculty pursuant to the Grievant’s first reappointment review, none expressed a concern about not teaching the standard model “fully and fairly.” Nor was it mentioned in the Dean’s reappointment letter to the Grievant in 2013. (UVM Exhibits 8, 9, and 10; UVM Exhibit 7)
77. The Grievant was cited by the Chair in her recommendation against his reappointment for not teaching the standard model “fully and fairly,” which was stated as being a “serious” concern. (UVM Exhibit 24, p.000063)
78. The Dean listed first in his list of concerns cited in his denial of the Grievant’s reappointment “lecture content” and “approach”. (UVM Exhibit 45, p.000063)
79. The Dean cited content related to not teaching the standard model “fully and fairly” in his denial of the grievance at Step 2. (UVM Exhibit 50, pp. 000142-143)
80. Dr. Joshua Farley testified under oath that Chair Solnick declined to cross-list non- neoclassical courses containing ecological models like those used in a a class presented by the Grievant in front of the Chair. (Farley testimony, 20180215-1116 at 13:05-18:04)
81. The Chair visited the Grievant’s class presenting a critique of the standard trade model based on incorporating “transaction costs with nature.” (Grievant Exhibit 40)
82. The Chair visited the Grievant’s EC 143 class and described some statements related to ecological models made by the Grievant as “provocative”. (UVM Exhibit 32, p. 000085)
83. The Chair during testimony was asked what was the provocative statement made by the Grievant’s class she visited. She pointed to the following statement: “Every Big Mac has a piece of the destroyed rainforest in it” as a provocative statement but then acknowledges it is an example of an externality, just not a good one. (UVM Exhibit 32 p. 000092; Solnick testimony, 20180214-1520 at 46:34-50:00).
84. The Chair stated in her peer letter after observing the Grievant teach that “every Big Mac has a piece of the destroyed rainforest in it” is a “provocative” statement. (UVM Exhibit 38, p. 000092).
85. The model presented by the Grievant illustrated how the standard model fails to incorporate the absence of “ transactions costs with nature”. He also explained how the generation of externalities (carbon pollution and other types of pollution) by transnational corporations is a functional aspect of global competition and regulatory arbitrage (skirting national regulations by going global ). The Grievant also linked sharpening inequality to the systemic production of externalities, and how private choice can conflict with social optimality as rendered in the standard model, leading to the “invisible foot” or anti-social tendencies in private markets. (Grievant Exhibit 40)
86. The class presented to the Chair was by design pursuant to the syllabus viewed by the Chair as a class aimed at going “beyond the neoclassical [standard model] perspective” after having completed full presentation of the standard trade models and their merits in previous classes. (Grievant Exhibit 37, Week III, section A,B,C and Week IV, section A,B,C)
87. The class presented to the Chair was by design pursuant to the syllabus viewed by the Chair a class that came after full coverage of the standard models over three separate classes before the Chair visited the Grievant’s class. (Grievant Exhibit 37, Week IV, C)
88. The Grievant testified under oath that the Chair knew that evidence of CTL course enrollment would be important to include but did not remind him during her review of his drafts of his Greensheets and assembly of the supportive material to go into the dossier. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1323 at 4:06-5:16)
89. The Grievant was quoted in The Cynic as saying he had freedom to choose textbooks, but also noted in the interview that the economics profession “has been at war with itself resulting in neoclassical [standard model] ideas often dominating the classroom.” A student quoted in the same article noted that “students are primarily exposed to one economic viewpoint” in UVM’s Department of Economics, a reference to the standard model as the article explains. (UVM Exhibit 11, p. 000028)
90. The Grievant drew chalk board diagrams in white and red chalk, the red chalk used to complete construction live in front of the class and draw attention to the key “onion layer” functional relations in standard models. (UVM Exhibit 33, p. 000087)
91. Chair Solnick wrote in her peer letter about EC 143 taught by the Grievant that he did “not define” externality in the class she visited (UVM Exhibit 38)
92. Grievant in his rebuttal the Chair indicated that the slides clearly define ‘externality’, a concept he stated “was explained over and over again throughout the class to the point where I thought the visitor would cite me for not using my time effectively because I keep repeating the meaning of the concept”. (UVM Exhibit 44, p. 000123)
93. Grievant slides presented in EC 143 and viewed by the Chair state that the goal of the course is to “demonstrate ‘Invisible Foot’ Outcome Using Partial Equilibrium Trade Analysis” and on the first slide defines externalities by stating that social and environmental costs “may not be priced by the marketplace (typically are not – they remain ‘external’). (Grievant Exhibit 40, pages 1-2)
94. Grievant rebutted many peer criticisms in his rebuttal to the Chair. While acknowledging he welcomes peer feedback and has incorporated feedback before, he notes repeated use of subjective peer comments, exaggerations and mischaracterizations not based on any established guidelines. (UVM Exhibit 44, pp. 000119-000128)
95. Grievant stated under oath that he believes his academic freedom was violated for being a Marxist political economist and radical ecologist. He stated that as a contingent faculty member, just the turn of a phrase by a few peers who don’t like you can lead to your removal from teaching, but without it appearing as if it’s for ideological reasons. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 26:05-27:29)
96. Grievant stated under oath that he received an unsolicited call from a member of the Faculty Standards Committee to inform the Grievant that the committee members he spoke with believe Sara Solnick was out to get him. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1323 at 2:34-1:13)
97. Chair stated during testimony that she believes students are biased against women teachers, and that it is “possible” that they are overrating the Grievant’s teaching. (Solnick testimony 20180214-1404 at 43:00-43:20)
98. Grievant testifies under oath that Chair Solnick was helpful in his 2012 preparation of Bluesheets by editing them and marking them up for inclusion of missing items and ways to improve them, but did not conduct herself in the same way in 2016 with his Greensheets preparation, failing to remind him to include CTL coursework that the Dean might be looking for because it was mentioned in his 2013 reappointment letter from the Dean. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1323 at 4:06-5:13)
99. Grievant attends his mentor’s lecture in 2013, the late Ross Thomson’s EC 12 class, to observe and adopt his highly-rated teaching style, particularly his outlining and reviewing of the lecture and linking it to materially to be covered in the next class before he begins his teaching. (Grievant narrative testimony 20180215-1252 at 4:38-6:33)
100. Solnick describes in her peer letter after visiting the Grievant’s class, that he is not managing his class time properly because, as the Chair wrote in the evaluation of his teaching in his Greensheets: “Summa spent a lot of time telling students what they were going to do that day and what they would do later in that unit”. Dr. Emily Beam, a peer who visited one of the Grievant’s classes as part of his 2016 review, wrote that “John has excellent time management”, a class that used the same outlining and reviewing described in paragraph 99 and the same one negatively reviewed by the Chair. (UVM Exhibit 24. P. 0000650; UVM Exhibit 30, p.000081)