By MARTY LEVINE
Provost Ann Cudd’s proposal to change the “non-tenure-stream faculty” category to “appointment stream faculty” was accepted unanimously by the University Senate’s Faculty Affairs Committee on Oct. 8, as part of the committee’s longstanding effort to modify the negative-sounding label.
The committee will now send a formal proposal to Faculty Assembly, along with Cudd’s suggestion that “teaching professor” be a new, optional title especially useful for appointment stream faculty members, to be added to “clinical faculty,” “research faculty” and other designations already allowed by Pitt bylaws.
The committee also will include Cudd’s recommendation that, apart from instructors, all faculty have the word “professor” in their titles, which would chiefly replace the term “lecturer.”
Before landing on “appointment stream faculty” as a category label, Cudd told the committee, she had rejected various other terms as inappropriate or inadequate, including “contract faculty,” “term faculty” and “professional faculty.”
And using the “teaching professor” title, she said, “would be a reasonable way to make titles stronger, better for non-tenure-stream faculty, and also bring some consistency (to titles) to reflect what people actually do” and foster greater respect for the job.
In proposing to more widely use “professor” titles, lecturer I, lecturer II and senior lecturer would become assistant teaching professor, associate teaching professor and teaching professor, respectively.
As Senate President Chris Bonneau, who attended the meeting, remarked later: “Lecturer II — I don’t know what that means. It means you’ve been here a long time, but not as long as a senior lecturer.” On the other hand, he said, the “professor” labels represent “long-standing categories” and have more widely understood meanings.
Cudd and the committee agreed that professors also could have multiple titles, as many do already, acknowledging classroom and administrative roles, and might also have one title officially and another title that was perhaps clearer to the public.
Cudd noted that she has encountered some resistance in preliminary discussions with deans about adding the “teaching professor” title, with some schools positing that the designation may seem a “diminishment” to some now designated as a simple assistant, associate or full professor.
“I think some faculty are going to see some stigmatization with the ‘teaching’ title,” said committee member Tom Songer, Graduate School of Public Health faculty member, “just as now there is the stigmatization with the ‘research’ title.”
And those labelled “teaching professor” may be assessed incorrectly when up for promotion, he suggested; if they are doing grant-funded work despite a “teaching” label, they may then be questioned about a reduction in their teaching. Other committee members countered that their schools did not question “research professors” about a deficit in teaching, for instance.
Committee co-chair Lorraine Denman, a French and Italian languages and literatures faculty member, suggested that the new titles come with fresh performance guidelines, to which Cudd agreed, with the proviso that “what counts as work product will vary across schools. … I think this is an evolutionary process.”
Other committee members voiced other cautions. “My only concern is those of us who have multiple functions (will) be put in one bucket” as a “teaching professor,” said Helen Cahalane, social work faculty member.
Seth Weinberg of the School of Dental Medicine responded that, in his experience, faculty have been able to work with deans to pick a title if their duties are fairly evenly split between, say, teaching and service or teaching and research.
Cudd also acknowledged that, even with a new category name and new titles, “The culture needs to come to recognize the value” of appointment stream faculty and teaching professors. “Let’s work toward that,” she said.
Left hanging for future proposals is any change to the nomenclature for part-time faculty, and any change for those labeled instructors, which encompasses both individuals still working toward a terminal degree and those with a terminal degree. The chief distinction between professor and instructor is that the latter is deploying, but not devising, each department’s curriculum.
“We need to define the term (instructor) because we don’t want schools using it as a cop-out” instead of assistant professor, Bonneau said.
Denman said she will compose a draft proposal for approval by the committee and submission for discussion at Faculty Assembly’s next meeting in November.
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.