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University of Pittsburgh

March 16, 2017

Recommendations made on PT faculty

A University Senate ad hoc committee has completed its review of part-time non-tenure-stream (NTS) faculty issues.

Among the recommendations: pay of at least $4,000 for a three-credit course; compensation when a scheduled class is canceled; and better access to University resources and benefits.

The six-page report, approved March 14 by Faculty Assembly, will be presented to Senate Council March 22.

“The Provost’s office has been very supportive of our efforts,” committee chair Irene Frieze told the Assembly, noting that many of the committee’s earlier recommendations have been implemented.

About one-third of all faculty are part-time NTS, Frieze reported.

She said the committee is seeking to eliminate the misuse of the term “adjunct” when referring to part-time NTS faculty. Most return term after term, she said, labeling them “recurring,” rather than meeting the definition of adjunct, which refers to someone who is primarily employed and compensated elsewhere.

Practices surrounding part-time NTS faculty vary, she said, cautioning faculty members that their experiences can’t be generalized across the board.

The committee made recommendations in the areas of transparency, seniority and compensation.

“Hiring practices need to be more standardized. … we would like to urge that there should be a more formal kind of system, and also a transparent system,” Frieze said.

“The University should make it very clear what the possible benefits are for part-time faculty. We actually offer very generous benefits for our part-time NTS faculty, but some faculty are not actually aware of those benefits, so they don’t ask for them.”

She noted that one way the University counts part-time faculty is based on whether they take medical benefits. Many don’t, “and then they get defined as not regular faculty,” Frieze said.

The committee recommended that part-time faculty be given a full orientation. Frieze said the Provost’s office is working on this issue.

For all part-time NTS faculty, the committee recommended:

• Standardizing hiring practices with a “formal, transparent and systematic” process.

• Informing faculty about their benefits and rights in terms of departmental, unit or University governance and offering them the opportunity to attend appropriate department meetings and events.

• Providing a full orientation.

• Providing timely access to IDs and necessary resources (such as library privileges) and bridging these resources for recurring faculty between contract periods.

• Reviewing performance and providing written feedback at least once a year and communicating the opportunities for renewal or longer-term contracts.

For part-time NTS faculty whose primary responsibility is teaching, the committee recommended:

• Providing timely access to administrative support, supplies and office space.

• Appointment as early as possible to allow time to prepare.

• Compensation for courses that are canceled.

• The opportunity to request feedback on teaching, which could be used for evaluation for renewal or for hiring full-time.

With regard to performance and seniority, the committee is recommending that:

• Units implement a transparent compensation system that provides increases based on performance and seniority.

• Recurring faculty be given some preference in choosing course times and topics.

• Units consider extending the length of contracts when there is predictable demand for the part-time faculty member’s services, and consider creating full-time positions when possible.

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The committee found that compensation varies widely for part-time NTS faculty, Frieze said. The committee is recommending:

• Compensation of at least $4,000 for a three-credit course, subject to increases based on seniority.

• Access to opportunities for improving research, administrative and pedagogical skills.

• Expanded access to benefits, such as health care, University-wide.

The full report and recommendations can be viewed here: www.utimes.pitt.edu/documents/PT_NTS_fac_recommendations.pdf.

 

—Kimberly K. Barlow


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