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Faculty Rights Tip of the Week: Writing Rebuttals to Evaluations

By now, many campuses are well into their evaluation cycles. During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty are experiencing the evaluation process under new and unprecedented conditions (e.g. remote teaching mediated through digital access inequities, virtually conducted peer observations, non-optimal work-from-home conditions, etc.).  Some CSU campus administrations have adopted “do no harm” policies that intend to lessen the stress of this evaluation cycle. Check with your local faculty affairs office and contact your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights advocate to learn about any modifications to this year’s evaluation procedures.

In the event that you disagree with the evaluation you receive, you have the right to issue a rebuttal, for consideration at the subsequent level of review. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provision below applies to all faculty undergoing any form of evaluation, but it is especially timely for probationary faculty applying for tenure and any faculty member applying for promotion. 

The CBA’s Article15.5 states that: “At all levels of review, before recommendations are forwarded to a subsequent review level, faculty unit employees shall be given a copy of the recommendation and the written reasons therefore. The faculty unit employee may submit a rebuttal statement or response in writing and/or request a meeting be held to discuss the recommendation within ten (10) days following receipt of the recommendation. A copy of the response or rebuttal statement shall accompany the Working Personnel Action File and also be sent to all previous levels of review. This section shall not require that evaluation timelines be extended.”

Consider the following when drafting a written rebuttal to an evaluation: You have 10 calendar days from the date you receive the review. This is not necessarily the date posted on the written review but rather the date that you actually receive it. See Article 2.11 for more details about counting the days.

Be brief and directly responsive to issues raised in the evaluation; match up evaluation comments with your rebuttal or responsive statement.  Be respectful and keep the tone objective.

Stay focused on correcting facts, including omissions of your documented accomplishments, that may have been misinterpreted by that level of review.

While your rebuttal may be addressed to the level of review immediately completed, your intended audience should be those who have yet to read the file (at the next level of review).

Ask someone to proofread your rebuttal for tone and brevity before you submit it.

If you need help or have questions about responding to a faculty review, do immediately contact your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights advocate.

Want to learn more? Become active with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team. Find your representative here.