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Task Force Report

Task Force Report

Task Force Report

To: Members of Faculty Assembly

From: Members of the Non Tenure Track Faculty Task Force (Chair Tom Napierkowski, Christina Murphy, Pam Carter, Kathy Andrus, Laura Marshall, Ceil Malek, and ex-officio members David Moon and Tom Christensen)

Date: May 11, 2007

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Task Force

Report of Recommendations

Full-time and part-time non-tenure-track faculty have long made extraordinary contributions to fulfilling the mission of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  In recent years, though, their numbers and contributions have grown, following trends prevalent on campuses all around the United States.  With this growth has come a dawning institutional awareness of not only the importance, but of the value of this cadre of faculty.  Even as the institution strives to insure that the roles of tenured and tenure-track faculty are defined in ways that benefit both the institution and individual faculty, a similar re-examination of the roles of non-tenure-track faculty is an equally-urgent necessity.  This committee was convened by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the President of the Faculty Assembly to make recommendations for ways in which the campus can proceed with this process.

This is not the first effort in this direction.  In 1998, the University of Colorado Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research convened a similar system-wide committee, which issued a recommendation to the campuses in 1999.  UCCS has made progress in implementing many of the recommendations from that report.  For example, titles, promotions and workloads have largely been clarified.  At the same time, notwithstanding campus efforts toward implementing each of the original eleven recommendations, this committee concludes that progress remains to be made in working conditions, evaluation and grievance processes, role in departmental governance, and compensation.

This conclusion is based in part on a survey conducted of full- and part-time non-tenure-track faculty.  By far the clearest outcome of the survey was that non-tenure-track faculty believe their compensation remains drastically below that called for by their contributions, qualifications and level of effort.  It appears that the next most salient concern of non-tenure-track faculty at UCCS is the difficulty of gaining clear, accurate information about their role and status.  This leads, in part, to ongoing concerns about the other substantive issues raised in the 1999 system report.

Based on the work of the 1999 committee, the results of the survey, and the experiences of the members of the current campus committee, the committee concludes that there remains a fundamental cultural question regarding the role and status of non-tenure-track faculty at UCCS.  The committee urges the campus to find more effective mechanisms to move to a culture in which the contributions, professionalism and legitimacy of non-tenure-track faculty are firmly and broadly understood, recognized and supported.  In pursuit of this goal, the committee has several procedural and substantive recommendations.

First, the committee endorses the March, 2006, resolution of the faculty assembly identifying “floor” and “target” minimum salaries for full-time instructors.  At the same time that these minimum salaries are addressed and as the benchmarks are appropriately adjusted for inflation and market conditions, appropriate compensation for more experienced instructors and senior instructors must be included.  Simply addressing the salaries of new and recent hires in the instructor ranks does not solve the problems identified by the survey and the Task Force.  Furthermore, the committee would extend benchmarking to part-time faculty.  As a general rule, the committee believes it would be appropriate to set the honorarium stipend for a three-credit course at roughly 10% of the applicable floor instructor compensation.

Second, the committee recommends exploring ways to improve communication among, to, and from non-tenure-track faculty.  As a pilot approach to accomplishing this goal, the committee recommends that the campus fund a one-course off-load for the non-tenure-track faculty representative to the Faculty Representative Assembly, and provide other support to enable him or her better to distribute information to, and to act as a conduit for concerns raised by, non-tenure-track faculty.  In some instances the person in this position may be called upon to act as an ombudsman on behalf of individual faculty and steps should be taken to facilitate such a role.

Third, recognizing that faculty culture is ultimately played out at the college and department level, the committee recommends that the Associate Deans Council be charged to work with the non-tenure track faculty representative to recommend best practices to the colleges and to work with them to adapt these practices to the particular circumstances of each college.  Because policies and practices are so different across colleges, and even departments, it is difficult to make specific recommendations at the campus level, but among the chief concerns identified by the committee are uncertainty about appointment, reappointment and evaluation processes, appropriate inclusion of non-tenure-track faculty in the faculty life of colleges and departments, and support and encouragement of professional development.  Within the constraints of state employment rules and campus fiscal circumstances, the committee urges the colleges to be particularly thoughtful about ways in which the reappointment and evaluation processes might be made more transparent, particularly with regard to stability of employment.  Survey results and anecdotal reports suggest that emphasis on the formal limitations regarding at-will appointments may have had the effect of producing anxiety about continuing employment that is greater than it necessarily has to be in some cases.

Finally, the committee recommends that campus discussions about faculty identity be consciously constructed to encompass tenured, tenure-track, full-time non-tenure-track and part-time faculty.  There are certainly substantial differences across these categories of faculty, but the institution, its students, and its faculty will clearly benefit from a thoughtful consideration of how these different components work together to create a healthy institutional culture.

Click here to view the 2007 Survey Summary