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May 12, 2016

Assembly: Full-time NTS faculty need year-round access to resources

Faculty Assembly endorsed a recommendation that full-time non-tenure-stream faculty retain year-round access to library resources, computing accounts, CourseWeb and other University resources they need in order to do their jobs.

Irene Frieze, chair of the Senate’s ad hoc committee to investigate part-time and other non-tenure-stream (NTS) faculty issues, said NTS faculty who teach in fall and spring terms lose access if they are not on the active payroll during summer, making it difficult to prepare fall courses or to wrap up students’ incomplete spring term grades.

She said the committee intends to make similar recommendations for part-time NTS faculty later.

Several faculty members noted that the issue isn’t limited solely to NTS faculty, adding that faculty may begin teaching in late August, even though their contracts — and access to resources — begin Sept. 1.

“It’s a solvable problem,” said Laurie Kirsch, vice provost for faculty affairs, development and diversity. She said that the Provost’s office has been trying to address the issue, adding that a process is in place in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

Alex Jones, co-chair of the Senate computer usage committee, noted that many services are related to University computer accounts. He said the committee worked with Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) to bridge the gap by ensuring that users’ computing accounts remain active until at least four months after a contract expires.


The recommendation came in conjunction with the ad hoc committee’s May 10 report to Faculty Assembly.

The ad hoc committee, formed last October to continue the work of an expiring ad hoc committee to examine full-time NTS faculty issues, retained as one of its goals to continue improving the work environment for full-time NTS faculty. (See Oct. 15 University Times.)


In an update on the committee’s work, Frieze reported that Pitt’s part-time NTS faculty play a variety of roles: They may teach, work on funded research, do administrative work, perform clinical or field instruction, or have a combination of these duties.

The committee found that of approximately 6,150 Pitt faculty in fall 2015, about 1,700, or 28 percent, were classified as part-time and 2,700, or 44 percent, were full-time NTS faculty.

NTS faculty made up more than 60 percent of the full-time faculty total. “Clearly they’re a big group,” Frieze reported.

The composition of 72 percent NTS and 28 percent tenured/tenure-stream puts Pitt in alignment with national estimates, Frieze said.

She said the committee is continuing to try to define different categories of part-time faculty in a meaningful way.

Frieze noted that most part-time faculty don’t fit the definition of the term “adjunct” which, under University bylaws, refers to faculty who have another full-time professional job and who do only occasional paid work for Pitt. “That’s one category of people, but the large majority of our part-time people are not technically what would be considered adjuncts.”

She said the committee is considering classifying part-time faculty as either provisional (recently placed on the payroll) or recurring (on the payroll for at least two semesters within a two-year span), with the expectation of continuing.

The committee plans to propose that recurring part-time faculty be treated as continuing employees and be granted additional rights, Frieze said.

“We’re still working on this,” Frieze said, inviting feedback on how best to categorize part-time faculty members.

In other committee reports:

Computer usage committee co-chair Jones reminded faculty that email should not be considered a secure means of communication and that Pitt email accounts are to be used for conducting University business.

The issue of email privacy in the University of California system made headlines earlier this year as some faculty there feared that third-party hardware installed to monitor computer network traffic might also violate their privacy.

“It became clear in that discussion that the monitoring system was not something that was designed to be reading people’s email, but rather was designed to protect against malicious content,” Jones said.

“There is monitoring of malicious content happening at the University of Pittsburgh,” he said, prompting the committee to report on email privacy, in consultation with CSSD.

• University email is designed for conducting University activities and business. It’s not designed for you to start a business; even not really designed for you to be communicating with family and friends,” he said, acknowledging that the lines will be blurred somewhat.

“It really is designed primarily to be used for University activities,” he said. “It really is not supposed to be used for anything related to external commercial activities or anything that is not part of the University business,” especially if faculty and staff are consulting or doing other outside work. “They really shouldn’t be using University email to conduct those other activities,” Jones said.

• Email by nature is an insecure method of communication, Jones said. “Regardless of whether it’s Pitt email or gmail or some other email service, it’s not secure and it shouldn’t be considered as such. If you need to communicate or correspond with somebody in a secure fashion, you need to use another form of communication or some encryption on top of email to conduct those activities,” Jones said.

• Pitt email soon will be moving to the cloud and no longer will be housed on University servers, Jones said. “It’s going to be moving to the Microsoft service and servers and is no longer going to be housed locally,” Jones said.

“CSSD and the University as a whole is not looking to read your email or to store information that you’d be communicating by email via the Pitt system,” he said, clarifying that the University is scanning email using third-party software in search of malicious content such as attachments containing viruses, exploits, or other content potentially harmful to the system.


Senate community relations committee (CRC) co-chairs Linda Hartman and Pam Toto channeled Alex Trebek, presenting its report in the form of a Jeopardy game. Categories were designed to familiarize Faculty Assembly with CRC’s constituents, its mission and issues that have been on its recent agenda.

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

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