End-of-Year Report by the Chair of the Provost’s Task Force on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Introduction

In August 2013, University of Virginia Provost John Simon convened a task force to raise and examine a broad range of issues related to the various groups that comprise the nontenure track faculty ranks. The membership of the 20-member task force comprises 7 tenured/tenure track faculty, 6 non-tenure track faculty, and 7 ex officio members. The members are:

Tony Baglioni - McIntire School of Commerce
Beth Epstein - School of Nursing
Roseanne Ford - Department of Chemical Engineering
Jeff Holt - College of Arts & Sciences
Winx Lawrence - Curry School of Education
Carla Lee - Library
Barbara Millar - Darden School of Business
Greg Saathoff - School of Medicine
Lois Shepherd - School of Medicine/Law
Bill Sherman - School of Architecture
Gweneth West - College of Arts & Sciences
Richard Will - College of Arts & Sciences
Cedric Williams - Department of Psychology

Ex officio:
Susan Carkeek - Department of Human Resources
Chris Holstege- Faculty Senate
Rick Kast - General Counsel
Martin Marcus - Office of Diversity
Maurie McInnis - Office of the Provost
Bethany Nowviskie - General Faculty Council
Madelyn Wessel - General Counsel’s Office

Scope of Task Force Work

The Task Force has met 9 times since it was created. Most of this first year has been spent learning about the policies and practices affecting the various groups that make up the nontenure track faculty, discussing concerns and needs of non-tenure track faculty, and studying national trends.

The non-tenure track faculty at the University includes both Teaching and Research (“T&R”) Faculty and Administrative and Professional (“A&P”) Faculty. Different policies and practices apply to these two groups of faculty members. The General Faculty Council also represents the Senior Professional Research Staff, who are not considered faculty although some of these employees both teach and conduct research. Some non-tenure track faculty members are full-time and some are part-time—the needs and concerns of such faculty members may differ according to full or part-time status. With the approval of the Provost, the task force determined that it would focus first upon the full-time T&R Faculty. Because of this decision, the Chair, in consultation with the Provost and General Faculty Council chair, created a working group composed of A&P Faculty to advise the task force about issues and concerns relating specifically to A&P Faculty. That working group, chaired by Bethany Nowviskie, is expected to have a report for the task force by the end of Summer 2014. In particular, the working group was asked to consider ways in which the A&P Faculty’s needs and concerns were aligned with or diverged from that of the full-time T&R Faculty.

Activities

In the fall of 2013, we invited all members of the Faculty Senate Task Force on Non- Tenure Track Faculty of 2008/2009 to meet with us. Four members of this previous task force, including the chair, met with us to discuss its 2009 Report. (The Faculty Senate Task Force Report of 2009 is available on the Faculty Senate website.)

We then divided into pairs to interview the deans of the 12 units of the University.1From these interviews we learned that there is wide variation in the policies and practices affecting non-tenure track faculty among the units. One of the greatest differences is in the practices surrounding the Expectation of Continuing Employment (ECE). The availability of ECE varies widely by units.

1School of Architecture, College of Arts & Sciences, Batten School, Curry School of Education, Darden School of Business, McIntire School of Commerce, School of Engineering, Law School, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Continuing & Professional Studies, and the Library.

Following discussion of the interviews, the task force recommended to the Provost that a website be created to serve as a clearinghouse for all school/unit policies relating to non-tenure track faculty. The website would make the policies more transparent and accessible and also provide a good repository of information as the task force moves forward. The Provost has indicated that work to construct such a clearinghouse will begin this summer.

A second recommendation was that particular attention be focused on the relatively recent (2009) policy decision made within the College of Arts and Sciences to hire, with few exceptions, new non-tenure track faculty in the position of “lecturer” with no clear opportunity toadvance through the academic and professorial ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. This change in policy was viewed negatively by the task force, which concluded that it was adversely affecting morale not only in the College, but more broadly across the University.

During the course of the year, some concerns were raised with the Provost that individual, unnamed faculty members had been required to waive their ECE eligibility status as a condition for re-appointment to their current position. (None of these concerns were expressed by any individual faculty members on behalf of themselves.) Provost Simon reported to us that those concerns had been investigated and that there was no evidence that this had taken place. He also indicated that such practice would be unacceptable. As a further consequence of the Provost’s investigation, the University on-line template for appointment letters for non-tenure track faculty has been modified to require school administrators to indicate, upon appointment of a NTTF member, whether the appointment is ECE-eligible or not, rather than appearing to create a default one way or the other.

Discussion during the year’s meetings focused on the following: job security, career advancement, shared governance, and culture/climate. At the end of the academic year, the task force began work in subcommittees assigned to these topics. The career advancement subcommittee has hired a graduate student for the summer to research and report on national trends and policies at other institutions relating to advancement opportunities for non-tenure track faculty. The task force also has available to it recent reports of the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois on their evolving policies regarding non-tenure track faculty. The Provost did not specifically charge the task force with addressing issues relating to salary. There is currently a salary study of the tenured and tenure-track faculty underway, and there are discussions of how best to extend that study to the T&R non-tenure track faculty in the near future.

Outreach and communication

Over the course of the academic year, the Chair of the task force has met with:

  • the General Faculty Council
  • the leadership of the UVA Chapter of the American Association of University Professors
  • an ad hoc group of School of Medicine NTTF representatives
  • the working group of A&P Faculty convened by the task force
  • the University’s task force on Professional Research Staff (chaired by Michael Schwartz) and has attended
  • a UVA Chapter of AAUP forum on NTTF (with the national AAUP president in attendance)
  • the Spring Reception of the General Faculty Council (all Task Force members were invited and several were able to attend)

Future plans

Over the course of the coming year, the task force will develop and consider recommendations from each of its subcommittees and create more opportunities for open dialogue and communication about issues relating to the non-tenure track faculty.

Sincerely,
Lois Shepherd
Chair, Provost’s Task Force on Non-Tenure Track Faculty

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