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September 12, 2013

Assembly reviewing non-tenure faculty policies

Faculty Assembly will create an ad hoc committee to analyze University policies and procedures related to full-time and part-time non-tenure stream faculty.

The ad hoc committee will continue work undertaken by a subcommittee of the Senate anti-discriminatory policies committee’s gender subcommittee, which addressed issues pertaining to full-time non-tenure stream faculty. The subcommittee’s policy recommendations were approved last year by Faculty Assembly and Senate Council. (See Jan. 10 University Times.)

The tenure subcommittee’s work did not deal with part-time non-tenure stream faculty and those on the regional campuses, said Irene Frieze, who chaired the subcommittee and who will lead the ad hoc committee. She said faculty have continued to bring related concerns to her informally.

Frieze, who is Senate vice chair, said the intention in forming the ad hoc committee is not to solve problems, but to identify issues and determine which of the Senate standing committees should address them.

The resolution, passed unanimously Sept. 3, states: “Faculty Assembly endorses the creation of an ad hoc committee charged with the analysis of University policies and procedures related to non-tenure stream faculty, both part-time and full-time, with an eye to adjustments that may need to be made and positioning of responsibility for consideration of these matters within the standing committees of the Senate, as well as identification of issues not currently within the purview of an existing standing committee.

“As examples, issues might include:

  • Senate bylaws changes related to membership in the Senate
  • Consistency of school and University policies on non-tenure stream faculty
  • Use of titles for non-tenure stream faculty
  • Contract wording, evaluation process and grievances
  • Benefits

“Members of the ad hoc committee may be drawn from faculty, staff and students. In particular, key constituencies will include: the Provost’s office, heavily impacted departments and schools and standing committees of the Senate.”

Senate bylaws limit ad hoc committees to a two-year span with one opportunity to renew. Senate President Michael Spring said Frieze will be under pressure to hand the issues back to the appropriate standing committees quickly, adding that he hopes to have an interim report from the ad hoc committee sometime mid-year.

Frieze said she aims to have a preliminary report by the end of the current academic year.

Frieze said Carey Balaban, vice provost for faculty affairs, would continue to work with the ad hoc committee. She asked Assembly members for input on concerns that need to be addressed as well as for volunteers interested in serving on the committee, adding that she hopes for as wide a variety as possible.


In other business:

• The Senate executive committee has been invited to meet with chancellor search committee chair Eva Tansky Blum and vice chair James V. Maher.

Spring asked for input from faculty members on characteristics they find important in a new chancellor.

Pat Weiss commented that the new chancellor should be devoted to shared governance. John J. Baker said he or she should have academic experience. Jane Cauley added that qualified internal candidates should be considered and that the new chancellor should have experience in dealing with commonwealth government. Jay Sukits said the new chancellor should be committed to the Pittsburgh community and understand the University’s relationship to the community.

• Assembly members approved a plan to stream live and record one Faculty Assembly meeting as an experiment, following discussion on who would have access and whether a recording should be posted publicly or in a restricted area.

Spring said the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education would stream the meeting at no charge.

He said the plan aims to boost faculty participation by allowing faculty to watch the meeting remotely. Faculty member Michael Goodhart, who said he was not opposed to the plan to stream the meeting live, nevertheless questioned whether the plan addressed the problem. He suggested that the group address the larger questions of barriers to faculty participation and why more faculty are not involved in the Senate.

• Spring highlighted features of the Senate’s new web site at The site has been reorganized and is designed to be easy to view on a variety of computers and handheld devices.

The Senate portal also has been revitalized. Faculty-only areas (accessible by clicking on “University Senate” in the resources tab at will enable the Senate to poll faculty members and facilitate discussion.

Members-only subportals have been created for each of the 15 standing committees. The areas will enable committees to post announcements and conduct private discussions to streamline committee work.

“Our goal is to make the lives of the faculty who do the critical work of the Senate easier,” Spring said, noting that committee chairs will be free to decide whether or not to use the subportals.

Noting that the Senate’s updated web presence is a work in progress, Spring asked faculty for feedback on the changes.

• An invitation to join the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA), an alliance of faculty senates and councils at schools in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1A), has been referred to the Senate athletics committee.

The organization, which was formed in 2002, addresses problems in college sports. According to COIA, faculty bodies at five Atlantic Coast Conference schools (Clemson, Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Wake Forest) are among its 61 members.

Prior invitations to join COIA have been declined for multiple reasons, including the Senate’s view that the University’s standards exceed those called for by COIA. (See March 16, 2006, University Times.)


This academic year, Faculty Assembly will meet in 2700 Posvar Hall at 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, Oct. 29, Nov. 26, Jan. 21, Feb. 18, April 1, April 29 and June 3.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 2

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