Guide for APSOU Accompanists
The APSOU Accompaniment Service provides support for faculty when meeting with administrative personnel and assists in resolving issues at the informal stage whenever possible, and before they develop into serious conflicts.
The primary roles of an APSOU-approved accompanist include being knowledgeable regarding the issues being addressed in the meeting, listening carefully and being a witness to the discussion, offering constructive advice to both the faculty member and the administrator, being supportive of the faculty member’s interests, and maintaining confidentiality.
The following are guidelines for faculty who are asked to serve as an APSOU accompanist.
Review the APSOU CBA language on Faculty-Administration Relationships.
(Article 18, Section B in the 2013-15 CBA). You may also want to review the APSOU Grievance Procedures (Article 17) and the Just Cause, Progressive Discipline, and Due Process language (in Article 16), but please note that an APSOU accompanist is NOT a grievance officer nor are they officially representing APSOU; the accompanist’s role is to support the faculty member.
Meet with the faculty member one-on-one to discuss their situation.
Ask them to bring any paperwork/e-mails related to their situation. Make sure you understand what their concerns are and what their desired outcome is. Remember, too, that as a listener it is wise to realize that not everything the faculty member says is a problem that needs to be solved! Part of your role is to allow that person to do some venting. This is also the time for you to decide if you think you can be an effective accompanist for this person – you may decline if you recognize a serious problem, e.g. a conflict of interest. Also, if you are uncomfortable serving as an accompanist to a meeting with an administrator within your Division, you can suggest to the faculty member that an outside accompanist might be more appropriate.
Plan for the meeting with the administrator.
Make sure both you and your faculty member are prepared for the meeting. Review any relevant documents or other facts that may bear on the situation. Discuss what your role will be, including the possibility that, if the meeting is going badly for any reason, you might suggest an immediate adjournment as a way of defusing a tense situation.
Set up the meeting with the administrator.
Sometimes the day and time will already have been set, but in any event: schedule the meeting when both you and the faculty member can be present. Find out who will be at the meeting, and notify the administrator YOU are coming to the meeting. The faculty member requesting accompaniment and the administrator calling the meeting are responsible for notifying all of the parties involved. [All parties should have at least two university day notice identifying who will be at the meeting.] Make sure the purpose of the meeting is clear and that any needed documents or other preparations are attended to prior to the meeting.
At the meeting.
Be pleasant and listen carefully. Once introductions/greetings have taken place, it is generally best if the faculty member and the administrator are the primary speakers. However, you should feel free to ask clarifying questions, to offer constructive suggestions, and to interject if your faculty member displays signs of stress. All parties should look at this meeting as an information-gathering activity as well as an opportunity to craft a mutually acceptable solution. If the latter does not happen, do not let that overly concern you now. The solution may need to be constructed after the meeting! Do try to take notes – either during or shortly after the meeting. Your faculty member will likely appreciate a second “take” on the content of the conversation.
After the meeting.
If possible, have a short one-on-one meeting with your faculty member immediately. At minimum, arrange to have an in depth one-on-one meeting as soon as possible after the administrator meeting to debrief. At this meeting encourage the faculty member to reconstruct the meeting from their perspective. It is important to see if a satisfactory solution was presented. Allow the faculty member to debrief before providing your input. Compare notes on what each of you thought transpired. Discuss next steps. Examples of next steps might be: the faculty member might craft a proposal to be considered by the administrator or the administrator may have promised to craft a proposal and give it the faculty member. If any action is promised or implied, recommend to the faculty member that he/she send an e-mail to the administrator requesting confirmation of the action. Of course another possibility is that there is an impasse on how to resolve the situation. At this point, depending on your own knowledge and experience, you may want to advise the faculty member on how to proceed with a grievance OR suggest that they contact the APSOU President or Faculty Senate Chair for advice on how to proceed with a grievance. Usually, your role concludes here (and is considered part of the “Informal Resolution, Member, Step 1” phase of a grievance, Article 17, Section C in the 2013-15 CBA). If the meeting with the administrator didn’t/doesn’t result in a clear resolution of the problem, advise the faculty member to contact the APSOU President to get counsel on options and to receive further support.
Confidentiality is key! Depending on your time and interest, you may offer to do some research for your faculty member. However, personal details and specific facts should not be shared with others.
Thank you for volunteering to play this role for your APSOU colleagues. Giving support to a troubled colleague can be one of the most valuable and rewarding things you can do as a faculty member at SOU!