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November 30, 2017

Non-Tenure, Part-time Faculty Contracts, Promotions, Support to Be Faculty Affairs’ Focus

The University Senate’s new faculty affairs committee spent its second meeting on Nov. 16 defining its focus for future actions and working toward its mission statement.

Committee co-chairs Yodit Betru, School of Social Work faculty member, and Chris Bonneau, faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science, noted that the committee would likely need to cover a large number of faculty concerns not handled by the Senate’s research committee and its tenure and academic freedom committee.

Issues of likely concern for the faculty affairs committee include:

  • Contract provisions for part-time and non-tenure stream (NTS) faculty;
  • The ability of part-time faculty to be promoted and to become full-time faculty;
  • The availability of more resources for NTS faculty, including opportunities to take sabbaticals and funding to attend professional conferences; and
  • Standardizing processes that govern what happens when an NTS faculty has a class canceled or does not have a contract renewed.

Laurie Kirsch, vice provost for faculty affairs, development, and diversity, noted that, although there are University policies governing such situations, individual schools may still handle them in varying manners.

The co-chairs suggested that the committee gather best practices among existing schools, determine where new or revised policies might aid faculty without full-time or tenure status and make suggestions for new procedures — perhaps some that the Faculty Assembly could vote upon as a whole.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of resistance from departments, deans and chairs to have one policy fits all,” said committee member Patrick Loughlin of the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Helen Cahalane, of the School of Social Work, pressed for a new consideration of the NTS designation: “Non-tenured faculty are defined in terms of what we aren’t,” she said. “We don’t have a University policy that talks about us in terms of what we are.”

Bonneau asked whether the committee’s work might be stymied by pending changes in the Office of the Provost, as Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson announced the intention to step down from her administrative role in fall 2018.

“Depending on what the issue is, I can see there might be some intention to put an issue on hold,” said Kirsch, adding that other issues would be able to proceed during the transition.


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859


Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 8

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