URBANA — The University of Illinois Academic Senate on Monday unanimously endorsed the principles of a report that describes, among other procedures, how nontenure-track faculty on campus are hired, evaluated and promoted.
In the coming months, the heads of different departments and units across campus are expected to meet with officials in the UI's Office of the Provost, which oversees academic affairs, on how their bylaws and guidelines match up to this new document. They're also likely to discuss any budget implications from possibly promoting, changing titles or offering multiyear contracts to those described by the office as "specialized faculty."
"The work is just beginning," said Barbara Wilson, executive vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, adding that the document will continue to be modified in the future.
Earlier this winter, staff in the provost's office drew up a draft "provost communication," essentially a document that outlines certain processes related to managing campus academic affairs, on issues related to "other academics" or nontenure track faculty such as lecturers, instructors and research professors.
Last month, the senate, a quasi-legislative body of mostly faculty and students, discussed the draft report and offered feedback. Members asked for stronger language in certain places and asked for additional feedback from those who fall into this category.
Some of the language in the revised document changed to a more forceful tone; a lot of the "shoulds" were replaced with "shalls," Wilson said.
Her office also sent surveys to those considered "other academics," asking for general feedback on the document and asking them to rate their preference for names for their employee category, including specialized faculty, nontenure track faculty, contingent faculty, auxiliary, etc. Although some have objected to that term, "specialized faculty" came out on top, according to the provost's survey.
The document clarifies a number of issues, including the use of certain titles such as adjuncts (for those who teach part time), instructor (those who do not hold what's called the "terminal degree," or the highest degree available in a subject area), and lecturer (someone who has the relevant terminal degree).
It also proposed a new position, a teaching professor, who would be focused on teaching. This position would rank higher than a lecturer, senior lecturer and senior instructor, but would not be on the tenure track.
The document also outlines how instructors and lecturers can be promoted to senior lecturers and senior instructors. It also encourages, but does not require, departments to offer multi-year contracts with senior nontenure track faculty.