College of Liberal Arts

College of Liberal Arts Lecturer Task Force

Mon, Aug 22, 2011

Introduction

During the Fall 2010 semester, over 150 Non-Tenure Track faculty (Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, and Distinguished Senior Lecturers) were employed by the departments and centers of the College of Liberal Arts to assist with the College’s undergraduate teaching mission. When Non-Tenure Track Faculty are properly hired and supervised, they serve their departments, and the university’s students, as excellent teachers. They are not, typically, hired for their promise as published scholars but are hired to teach undergraduates. They may, or may not, distinguish themselves as scholars in their respective disciplines. Those hired as Non-Tenure Track faculty have completed graduate studies in their fields or have, otherwise, demonstrated their competence to teach undergraduates. They constitute cost-efficient, added-value for the College.

Aware of the College’s dependence on Non-Tenure Track faculty (henceforth, NTT faculty), concerned about the well-being of Non-Tenure Track faculty in the college, and curious to know about the overall “climate” for Non-Tenure Track faculty in the College, Associate Dean Esther Raizen asked Megan Seaholm (Lecturer, Department of History) to create a task force to study the situation and, if appropriate, make recommendations. Seaholm asked Karen Kelton (Senior Lecturer, French & Italian), Wayne Hickenbottom (Senor Lecturer, Economics), Lindsay Hale (Lecturer, Anthropology and Religious Studies), and Tom Vessely (Senior Lecturer, French & Italian) to join her in what would be called the “COLA Lecturer Task Force.” During the Spring 2011 semester, the Task Force took the following steps to fulfill its charge:

1.  Three Task Force members met with several lecturers in French and Italian whose most significant grievances concerned:

  • •      Terms of appointment
  • •      Supervision
  • •      Department governance
  • •      Workload
  • •      Course assignments

2.  Seaholm met with Gail Davis, Director of Human Resources for the College of Liberal Arts, to learn college and/or department policies and practices regarding hiring, supervision, workload, and promotion of NTT faculty.

3. The Task Force carefully reviewed and discussed the November 2002 Final Report of the President’s ad hoc Committee on Non-Tenure Track Teaching Faculty. Judith Langlois chaired this committee.

4.  The Task Force carefully reviewed and discussed the November 2005 report from the Implementation Committee on the Status of Non-Tenure Track Faculty. Hillary Hart chaired this committee.

5.  The Task Force reviewed the demography of NTT faculty in the College of Liberal Arts.

6.  We interviewed fourteen lecturers from various departments. We asked each of them to comment on issues related to

  • •       Appointment and supervision
  • •       Salary and benefits
  • •       Workload and course selection
  • •       Participation in departmental affairs and business
  • •       Promotion

7.  We reviewed reports from the American Association of University Professors (1) and articles published in The Chronicle of Higher Education (2) regarding NTT faculty at other universities and in general.

Conclusions

1.  The University of Texas at Austin and the College of Liberal Arts, in particular, are not unusual, among peer institutions, in their dependence upon Non-Tenure Track Faculty. In many ways, the University of Texas at Austin is quite progressive in its policies, formal and informal, regarding Non-Tenure Track, or contingent, Faculty.

2.  Members of the COLA Lecturer Task Force concluded the following about the College’s use of those appointed as Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, and Distinguished Senior Lecturers:

  • NTT faculty provide necessary service to COLA departments and centers that enables the College to provide undergraduates with excellent and varied instruction.
  • NTT faculty are, generally, pleased to be working in their field at a superior academic institution.

3.  The COLA Lecturer Task Force learned that while NTT faculty are generally pleased with their appointments, they regret, even if they understand, the lack of job security and, given the demands of teaching at least nine hours each long session, they often find it difficult to continue their research and/or remain up-to-date in their field.

4.  Almost all of the NTT faculty with whom we spoke who articulated grievances were in the language departments.

  • Most complained about the workload.
  • Several NTT faculty in the Department of French and Italian felt unappreciated by their department and by the Tenure Track faculty.
  • The “one-semester” appointments were a particular source of dissatisfaction.

5.  Until quite recently, the College had not articulated College-specific policies (3) nor had it formally directed departments and centers to follow the Provost’s recommendations (4) regarding appointment, dismissal, supervision, workload, course selection, participation in department business, or promotion of NTT faculty. Rather, departments exercise considerable autonomy in the hiring and management of lecturers in order to fit department needs. This is an observation and not a criticism. Ad hoc policies have emerged, with guidance from the College’s Human Resources Director, Gail Davis, that have worked well for NTT faculty and departments. A general summary:

Appointment and Supervision

1) Terms of appointment vary according to department needs.

2) Department chairs are responsible for NTT faculty appointments.

3) In the language departments, an Undergraduate Coordinator usually supervises the NTT faculty.

4) Like all faculty, NTT faculty are evaluated through Annual Reports and Course Instructor Surveys.

Salary and Benefits:

1) Full-time NTT faculty are eligible for all the benefits made available to full-time faculty and full-time staff.

2) The College follows an informal policy that the lowest salary rate for lecturers must be higher than the department’s rate for Assistant Instructors.

Workload and Course Selection:

1) The standard course load is three courses per semester, but it is often greater in the language departments. For example, five courses per semester is the full-time load in Asian Studies.

2) Throughout the college, NTT faculty primarily teach lower-division classes. There are several departments, however, in which NTT faculty also teach upper-division classes.

Participation in Departmental Affairs and Business:

1) Some departments have entrusted long-term NTT faculty, usually Senior Lecturers, with significant department responsibilities, e.g. directing a particular program or initiative. In one COLA department, a Senior Lecturer is in charge of the department’s Honors Program.

2) NTT faculty rarely work on department committees. This is not necessarily a problem. Given the teaching load of most NTT faculty, additional committee responsibilities would not necessarily be welcome. No department in the College assigns NTT faculty to serve on hiring committees or on Executive Committees. This is in accord with the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. (5)

3) Participation or attendance at department faculty meetings varies among COLA departments.

4) Most NTT faculty do not know that they are eligible to

  • participate in faculty meetings,
  • serve on department committees in areas where they have expertise,
  • serve on the Faculty Council and on Faculty Standing Committees, and
  • vote on departmental issues.

Promotion:

1) NTT faculty in COLA include Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, and Distinguished Senior Lecturers.

2) There is no College policy about whether or when promotion should be considered. Though the department chair sometimes initiates the promotion process, the individual NTT faculty usually initiates the process.  

RecommendationsGeneral

The most important thing that the College of Liberal Arts and its departments and centers should do to

  1. ensure the excellence of the Non-Tenure Track faculty in the College,
  2. appropriately regard the contribution of that faculty, and
  3. promote comity between NTT and the departments that they serve
is to adopt the recommendations of the 2002 Final Report of the President’s ad hoc Committee on Non- Tenure Track Teaching Faculty and the 2005 Implementation Committee on the Status of Non-Tenure Track Faculty.

Both committees emphasized that NTT “faculty members are a vital component of the instructional program at the University.” Both committees acknowledged that NTT faculty are sometimes required to fulfill “short-term or transitional staffing requirements within departments,” (6) and both committees addressed their recommendations to the longer-term NTT faculty, whose appointments are on a yearly basis but who are hired to teach courses that the full complement of Tenure Track faculty are not able to cover. Thus, these longer-term NTT are often retained for several years to help the department fulfill its teaching mission.

Though many in the College are aware of the work of the ad hoc Committee and the Implementation Committee, most, including most NTT faculty, are unaware of Committees’ reports.

The major conclusions and recommendations for the Implementation Committee on Status of Non-Tenure Track Teaching Faculty are, briefly, as follows

1.  Because NTT faculty “are a vital component of the instructional program at the University,” the University should establish systematic review procedures to govern merit raises, renewal of contracts, and promotion for long-term, non-tenure track faculty.” (7)

2.  NTT should have opportunities for promotion. To that end, the Implementation Committee, following the recommendations of the President’s ad hoc Committee, recommended three career steps available to NTT:

Lecturer: A minimum of a one academic year contract that is subject to renewal.

  • Comprehensive review to be conducted “at the end of the third year of service to discuss quality of performance and expectations for the future.” (8)

•Senior Lecturer: When a lecturer has served for six years, the chairman or director should conduct a comprehensive review in addition to the annual performance evaluation to determine eligibility for promotion to Senior Lecturer.

  • Senior Lecturers should receive two-year contracts or “rolling” two-year contracts, to be determined by the department.
Distinguished Senior Lecturer: A Senior Lecturer may request consideration for promotion to Distinguished Senior Lecturer after ten years of service in rank.
  • The rank of Distinguished Senior Lecturer “should be reserved for extraordinary service and performance (as defined by individual units).” (9)
  • The hiring department may offer Distinguished Senior Lecturers consecutive three-year contracts or three year contracts with a “rolling horizon.”

3.  Appointments for Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Distinguished Senior Lecturer should be made as a result of open recruitment.

4.  NTT faculty workload should, for the purposes of determining benefits, be computed on the number of courses taught in one academic year rather than by semester.

5.  NTT faculty should have opportunities to compete for funding that would allow them to continue their research and/or stay up-to-date in their field.

6.  NTT should be eligible for certain existing teaching awards.

7.  NTT should be eligible for course relief to work on course development.

8.  These recommendations should apply to Clinical faculty [not relevant for COLA].

9.  The Faculty Welfare Committee should evaluate the implementation of these recommendations.

10. The Faculty Welfare Committee should work with the Provost to better define issues and procedures related to performance review, job descriptions, and voting rights for NTT. 

11.  Promotion should be accompanied by increase in salary, and the University should look for ways to promote professional development for NTT.

12.  Multi-year appointments should be for 50% time or more so that NTT are eligible for benefits, unless the individual requests otherwise.

13.  NTT faculty are eligible to participate in department, school, and college committees.

14.  NTT faculty are voting members of the General Faculty. Therefore, they may serve on the Faculty Council as representatives of their department or unit.

15.  Senior Lectures are eligible to apply for a University travel grant.

16.  Lecturers and Senior Lecturers may, with approval of the vice-president for research, serve as Principal Investigators on grants and they should be encouraged to pursue grants on innovative pedagogy.

Recommendations: Specific

The College Task Force on Lecturers believes that specific and transparent policies regarding Non-Tenure Track Faculty, with due regard for a department or center’s particular needs, will obviate the confusion that is a potential source of dissatisfaction for NTT faculty. To that end, we recommend the following:

1.  The College should adopt the recommendations made by the Implementation Committee as college policy.

2.  The Implementation Committee’s first recommendation specifies “University” procedures. We recommend that the College, per these recommendations, articulate procedures regarding NTT faculty.

a) NTT faculty should receive a copy of the College’s policies regarding NTT faculty when they are appointed for at least one academic year.

b) When a Lecturer is hired, the department chair or the department’s executive assistant should meet with that Lecturer to provide information about

  1. professional expectations, job description, evaluation procedures,
  2. contingent nature of employment, possibility (or not) for subsequent appointment,
  3. rights and responsibilities of NTT faculty, and
  4. College policies regarding NTT faculty.

3.  The Implementation Committee’s second recommendation charges the department chair or center director with evaluating NTT faculty at particular times and advising NTT of promotion possibilities.

a) NTT faculty should be informed, no later than during the third year of service,

  1. that a career path exists,
  2. when NTT faculty are eligible to request consideration for promotion, and
  3. procedures for promotion. Providing this information implies no obligation on the part of the department.

b) The Provost has provided guidelines for promotion procedures for NTT:

http://www.utexas.edu/provost/policies/evaluation/tenure/promote_nontenure.html

c) Because contingent faculty are, by definition, contingent; and because, much is required of the department chair, department staff, and other faculty in order to recommend promotion, NTT are often cautious about requesting consideration for promotion.  Thus, it is important that department chairs or center directors initiate the conversation about the NTT faculty’s prospects at the end of the third year of service and, especially, after the sixth year of service.

4.  NTT faculty should be added to the department’s faculty email list so that they may know of department meetings, special lectures or “job talks,” and other department business.

5.  While NTT faculty are understandably proscribed from participation on the department’s Budget and Executive Committees, NTT faculty may be considered for service on other department committees. Per adoption of the Implementation Committee’s recommendations, department chairs and NTT should have this information.

6.  Full-time NTT faculty should be told that, per the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedure, they have voting status in their departments. Furthermore, as members of the General Faculty, they may represent their college or department on the Faculty Council after four or more long session semesters of service.

Respectfully submitted,

Megan Seaholm
Lindsay Hale
Wayne Hickenbottom
Karen Kelton
Tom Vessely

                                             

Notes:

(1) Gary Rhoades, “The Centrality of Contingent Faculty to Academe’s Future,” Academic Online, American Association of University Professors.
(2) Audrey Williams June, “Benefits for Adjuncts Can Boost Job Satisfaction for All,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, online, November 18, 2010.
(3) See attachment: Dean Randy Diehl, email to CoLA department chairs, “Terms of Appointment for Lecturers,” 4 May 2011.
(4) See the reports of the 2002 and 2005 committees on Non-Tenure Track Faculty: http://www.utexas.edu/provost/research/non_tenure/
(5) See Handbook of Operating Procedures (https://www.policies.utexas.edu/policies), Chapter 2, Section 8.
(6) The ad hoc Committee distinguished between Lecturers hired to “fulfill short-term or transitional staffing requirements within departments” and Lecturers who have a long-term relationship with the University. The short-term Lecturers are generally those hired to cover classes of tenure-track faculty who are on leave or when the department’s need of additional teaching faculty is known to be for a specific, limited time. When such short-term status is anticipated, the academic title should be Visiting or Interim Lecturer.
(7) “Recommendations of the Implementation Committee on the Status of Non-Tenure Track Faculty,” 2005, Recommendation #1. See University of Texas at Austin website, Provost’s Office , “Reports and research:” http://www.utexas.edu/provost/research/non_tenure/
(8) Implementation Committee, Recommendation #2.
(9) Ibid., Recommendation #2.

Attachment: Dean Randy Diehl's Email to Chairs on Lecturer Appointments, May 4, 2011

Download a PDF of this report here. For additional information, please contact Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, Executive Assistant, Office of Research & Graduate Studies. 

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