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Faculty Affairs Committee Minutes (11-18-08)

Meeting of the Faculty Affairs Committee

18 November 2008, 9:00am, Sci 2555

 

Present: Tom Mahoney, Argie Manolis, Eli Mayfield, Leslie Meek, Timna Wyckoff, James Wojtaszek

Absent: Pam Solvie

Guest: Cheryl Contant

 

I. minutes

The minutes from 4 November and 11 November 2008 were approved.

 

II. questions for Dean Contant

A. spousal hiring: At our last meeting with Contant, she asked FAC to discuss spousal hiring. We asked her for more details...what does she want to know? Contant is looking for the “lay of the land” with respect to spousal hiring at UMM. What are the specific issues (pro and con) on this campus with respect to spousal hires? We will talk about how to get at this at our next meeting.

B. salaries: After our last meeting with Contant, she contacted Wyckoff and asked FAC to discuss faculty salaries. Wyckoff asked whether she was interested in more information than was available in the 2008 accountability report. Contant indicated that she wondered what the “big concerns” were regarding salaries among faculty. After some discussion, FAC indicated that we thought that issues of disparity among individuals, disciplines and/or divisions was of more concern than overall compensation levels.

 

III. reports for Dean Contant

A. Wyckoff asked that Contant consider changes to the sabbatical supplement application process. This request comes from Wyckoff as an individual, but was also brought up at our meeting with the Division Chairs.

B. Wyckoff reported that FAC is in the process of getting workload documents from various colleges and universities, through Sarah Mattson in HR.

C. We let Contant know of our discussions at our last two meetings regarding the issue of a faculty lounge.

 

IV. non-tenure track issues

The rest of the meeting was dedicated to discussion of Manolis' document (see below) regarding concerns of non-tenure track faculty. At the end of the meeting, Contant summarized her understanding of the two overarching issues: 1) clarity of job descriptions for non-tenure track faculty (this might involve the creation of several classes of appointments but will probably also need to be decided on a case-by-case basis for some individuals), and 2) consistency across Divisions (with regard to reviews, loads, benefits).

 

Minutes submitted by Timna Wyckoff, 26 November 2008


To: Dr. Cheryl Contant, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean

 

From: Argie Manolis, Faculty Affairs Committee, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Representative

 

Re: Non-tenure-track faculty concerns

 

Background

 

Non-tenure-track faculty have a variety of types of appointments, ranging from one-year sabbatical or leave replacements to ongoing positions in some disciplines.

Many non-tenure-track faculty have been employed by UMM for several years and are committed to remaining in Morris. Some are spouses, partners, or family members of other UMM faculty or staff who would not have been able to make a home in Morris without ongoing employment.

Non-tenure-track faculty are contributing to UMM in multiple ways. For example, in terms of teaching, many are teaching heavier loads than their tenured and tenure-track colleagues, including classes that are critical to the completion of a UMM degree such as the first class in a major series or core general education requirements. Such classes often require intensive one-on-one work with students, and positive progress in these classes is essential to retention after the first year. Many incorporate service-learning and other innovative pedagogies in their teaching.

Many non-tenure track faculty have active research agendas with publications and creative exhibits that reflect positively on the institution, despite variance in the institutional support they receive for such work. Some have been awarded grants for their research and creative activity despite the challenges in applying for and receiving a grant as a yearly contracted employee.

In terms of service, all non-tenure-track faculty who have been employed by UMM for more than one year have provided at least three of the following types of services in the last year: service on an assembly committee; leadership in a subcommittee/similar group; advisor to a student organization; member of a search committee within their discipline; member of a search committee outside their discipline; service in the community related to their area of expertise; planning and implementing campus/community events; webmaster for a university website; or completion of or involvement in a significant project for one's discipline.

Given the important contributions of non-tenure track faculty, the purpose of this document is to communicate concerns about the lack of clarity regarding expectations and benefits available to non-tenure-track faculty. The following concerns have been voiced by multiple faculty who are on non-tenure track lines.

 

  1. Job Designations.

Although our jobs may look very similar, our appointment types vary. Some of us have P&A appointments, and some of us fall under an earlier “non-tenure-track faculty” designation. Those of us whose primary responsibility is teaching and who work full-time should have the same designation and similar workloads and benefits.

 

 

 

  1. Workload Expectations.

Workload expectations in terms of teaching load and teaching-related responsibilities for non-tenure-track faculty vary considerably. Some faculty are expected to teach a 3/3 load, and some a 3/2 load, to be considered full-time. Many non-tenure-track faculty also conduct senior projects, directed studies, and internships with students, some of which are required for the completion of particular majors, in addition to the courses that are visibly part of their course loads. All non-tenure-track faculty advise students in their second year at UMM. Some express concern about their advising load compared to that of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in their disciplines.

In terms of service, several non-tenure-track faculty serve on committees and do other service because of their dedication to the institution, but whether or not they are compensated, encouraged, or rewarded for this service varies from person to person. Some report feeling “pushed” to provide services their tenured and tenure-track colleagues do not want to do; they fear saying no because their jobs are not permanent. Others report being “protected” by tenure-track and tenured faculty or Division Chairs; they are told that they are not responsible for providing service, but they end up feeling left out of decision-making processes because they are not involved in campus governance, discipline meetings, etc.

Research and creative activity are necessary for continued success in teaching, but long-term non-tenure-track faculty report there is little clarity about what kind or how much research or creative activity is expected or supported and how such work relates to our review process. Short-term non-tenure-track faculty must continue to do research and creative activity in order to secure jobs when their short-term appointments are over; some feel they are encouraged to do so and supported in this work, and some do not.

Faculty experiences with contracts also vary considerably. Some faculty note that responsibilities have been added to new contracts without explanation or increased compensation. Others note changes in what constitutes full-time employment from year to year, again without explanation or changes in compensation. Some describe never seeing an annual contract with clear expectations at all. We advocate for written contracts that clarify our responsibilities and for equity regarding these responsibilities among all non-tenure-track faculty across campus.

 

  1. Reviews.

Most non-tenure-track faculty who have been employed for longer than one year report receiving some kind of review if they have been in a position for more than one year. These reviews vary from informal conversations with Division Chairs to completing formal files similar to those completed by their tenure-track colleagues. Similarly, the type of feedback received varies from informal verbal feedback to written documentation that becomes part of the faculty member's permanent file.

 

“Reviews” continues on page three

We advocate for annual reviews of our work that match a clear set of expectations. A review process that is similar across campus for non-tenure-track faculty would clarify expectations and likely improve the quality of our work. It might also eliminate some concerns about how we will be treated if we choose to say “no” to particular requests; we will have more clarity about how we should focus our time given the feedback in our most recent review.

 

  1. Timing and content of contracts.

Non-tenure-track faculty report learning of changes to their contracts without adequate preparation to ensure that they are able to make necessary lifestyle changes. We advocate for timely notification of any major changes in job descriptions and compensation. If a non-tenure track faculty member has made a long-term commitment to the institution, s/he should be granted a year's notice before termination or a significant reduction in responsibilities and compensation, following the same guidelines as a tenure-track faculty member.

 

  1. Funding opportunities.

Non-tenure-track faculty report varying responses at all levels across campus regarding whether they are eligible for travel funding and other internal funding opportunities related to teaching and research. For instance, some have received funding for a conference each year using the same process as their tenure-track colleagues; others have been told conference funding is not available to them. Some have been encouraged to apply for FREF grants, while others have been told these grants are not intended for faculty who do not have a research expectation in their job descriptions.

Some of us are who are in long-term positions at UMM are in a position to apply for significant external funding opportunities. However, as long as we are on annual contracts, we are unable to apply for such opportunities because we cannot show that the institution has a long-term commitment to our work.

In order to make non-tenure-track positions more attractive to people who want to make a commitment to UMM (including spouses and partners of other faculty and staff), and because research or creative activity is necessary in order to be an effective teacher, we advocate for the opportunity to apply for funding for all internal grant opportunities, acknowledging that some system-wide and external grants specifically exclude applications from non-tenure-track faculty. We also advocate for a process by which we can request proof of a long-term institutional commitment in the event that we wish to apply for external funds.

 

  1. Leaves.

There is no internal process for determining how a P&A teaching faculty member can apply for a leave (see Section IV of the Board of Regent's Employee Development, Education, and Training policy). We advocate for a clear process for applying for leaves in accordance with this policy and, when the monetary situation improves, for a funding stream to cover such leaves.

 

 

 

7. Continuing Education Appointments.

Some non-tenure-track faculty are teaching core curriculum courses through Continuing Education. Many report that they teach these classes in classrooms on campus during the academic year to traditional UMM students; others report that their online students are also mostly traditional UMM students. Some of these courses are the sole courses required for minors that would otherwise not be offered at UMM but draw great interest from students. However, even if these faculty are teaching at 100% overall, only courses taught through UMM Disciplines count in terms of retirement and health benefits. If these faculty were teaching the same courses through a UMM Discipline, their benefits package would look much different. We advocate for a review of how Continuing Education appointments affect benefits for continuing non- tenure-track faculty.   8. Retirement. While tenure-track faculty can now receive retirement benefits beginning in their first year, non-tenure-track faculty must wait until their third year of full-time teaching through one of the four Divisions (and lose these benefits when they drop below 67%). We advocate for providing retirement benefits for all returning non-tenure-track, full-time appointments beginning in the second year of employment.