UI Senate backs principles on nontenure faculty

UI Senate backs principles on nontenure faculty

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.

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Lostinspace wrote on March 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

Any word on whether "teaching professors" would be hired to replace tenured faculty?

Any word on the teaching load of teaching professors?


fredtheduck wrote on March 11, 2014 at 9:03 am


Sid Saltfork wrote on March 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Dukes, counts, earls, barons, colonels, brigadiers, majors, public service administrators, communications specialists............... now, specialized faculty, adjuncts, instructors, lecturers, and teaching professors.  Imagine a parent of a student, or anyone else understanding the ranking order in academia.  Makes sense to academia though.  Every institution needs a ranking system.  Money, and title defines success.  Specialized Faculty does sound better than the other titles offered.

Once the naming process is finished, better consider unionization.  Money, and title do define success.  

dadogg wrote on March 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

These are important titles, when somebody spends 12 years of school, gain their "title", and become an expert in their field they are in high demand and are paid accordingly. When they continue to work for the University, its students, and their field, they should be recognized form that. So Yes being a full tenure professor is a big deal.  Sid can not understand this.  If the union comes in, you will see the best minds, who work 60-80 hours a week because they love what they do and love the students leave for other locations. You will be left with a group that only care about "I have been here for 12 years, so I deserve more than you" types.  

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Gee my lordship, less than one hour ago it was 1:15 p.m.  Are you "working from home" on your expertise?  Are you off on Spring Break already?  You must be tenured to have such privileges.  Hopefully; your not using a state/university laptop for your personal opinions which may, or may not be in your field of expetise. 

Titles are meaningless.  Money is the necessity to support one's self, and one's family.   The best minds will stay for the money based on their individual contract.  The others who enjoy privilege, and title will seek other employment if some other employment will have them.  Those that really "work 60-80 hours a week" will be rewarded.  For the lesser ranks; forming a union means a collective contract with stability, and economic security.  Pay for work will eventually arrive in academia.

Lostinspace wrote on March 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Not sure titles are always meaningless.  The important question is how a title is defined.  How, for example, do non-tenure track faculty members fit into a departmental structure?  Will they have service responsibilities? Do they have voting privileges?  Will the new teaching professors teach graduate students and direct dissertations (if they have a PhD, that ordinarily means that they have that ability)?  If so, then what is the distinction between them and the tenure track faculty, other than the fact that they don't have tenure.  If not, then we face a split between graduate and undergraduate faculty (without tenure), with the latter likely to be considered as second (or third) class citizens.

Without tenure, how will they be protected against political rivalries and favoritism?

It could be that these issues and others were addressed and are part of the document.  If not, I can't imagine why the Senate voiced its approval.

As usual, we shall wait for faculty members to weigh in here.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

If there is only so much money available to pay administrators, tenured faculty, and non-tenured faculty; what do you think will happen?  Why was the report requested in the first place?  Why did the senate back it?  Why are important questions involving so many not being answered presently?  One could guess that the discussion of unionization has prompted some action.

There are many occupational titles that sound impressive, but pay little.  The basic question that the non-tenured should ask themselves is "do you trust your employer"?

dadogg wrote on March 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Actually I am running a company and have a few minutes throughout the day. Sorry about your luck. 

dadogg wrote on March 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Thank you for that very insightful comment.  

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 17, 2014 at 9:03 am

Thanking yourself for being insightful?  I can understand an owner of a company being anti-union.  Unions came into existence due to poor pay, unsafe working conditions, and long employment hours among other things.  The recent trend in employment is a return to the days prior to unions.  Just as some people are born into a family faith, people are born into anti-union families.  It's dogma with a mixture of jelousy, and greed.