FGC developing new faculty position

The Faculty Governance Committee (FGC) is moving forward with its plans to reform college policy surrounding contracts and review for long-term non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty members. The exact language of the policy changes will be hammered out in a FGC subcommittee that focuses on NTT matters before being brought to the FGC at large.

Concerns about long-term NTTs were initially brought forward to the Faculty Life Committee (FLC) in 2005. Since then, the discussion has bounced back and forth between the FGC and the FLC until two concrete proposals were brought to the FGC last spring.

Long-term NTTs can be defined as faculty members who have taught at the college for longer than the six years outlined in the faculty manual. The manual states that “term appointments are for one, two, or three years; these appointments are renewable up to six years. In special cases, full-time term appointments at the instructor rank may be renewed beyond six years without tenure.”

The FGC plans to address this inconsistency. Last spring, the NTT subcommittee brought issues regarding long-term NTTs, such as contract length, review processes and mentorship, to Academic Leadership – a body that includes department and program chairs; chairs of elected committees; directors of units such as the library, IT and the Registrar; the Associate Deans of the Five Faculties; and the Associate Provost. The survey asked members how their respective departments encountered these issues and how they usually resolved with them.

Overall, survey respondents acknowledged a need for more concrete procedures to be put in place, with one respondant blatently saying “I urge us to consider three-five year planning … or we can plan that the sky will potentially, maybe, possibly fall every year and we stay with the current system.”

The respondants noted a diversity in reported procedures for hiring, contracts and review for NTTs. On the topic of contract length, several respondents mentioned the excess time and paperwork involved in hiring. A longer contract would cut down on administrative work. Respondents also noted that longer contracts would provide more continuity for students and departments, as well as improved ability to plan for interdisciplinary program directors.

The survey also addressed hiring practices, mentorship, review processes and service expectations. In all categories, faculty expressed a need for reevaluation.

The FGC resumed meeting for the 2016-17 academic year on Sept. 14. Associate Professor of Religion Mara Benjamin brought new FGC members up to speed on the progress of the subcommittee thus far. This year, Associate Professor of Political Science Tony Lott will be chairing the FGC. The NTT subcommittee will stay the same, save for the addition of Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kosmas Diveris to replace Jeanne Willcoxon.

The NTT subcommittee brought forward a proposal on Wednesday, Oct. 5 that introduced the new position of Senior Lecturer. The FGC voted to move the proposal forward unanimously. This vote by no means made the position concrete, but the proposal will now move to the next round of revisions.

Senior Lecturer would be an on-going teaching appointment for term appointment faculty members in a department that can show a consistent need of at least .67 Full Time Equivilant (FTE) for that faculty member for five consecutive years. The position would be a three-year appointment with the option for three-year renewals. After five years as a Senior Lecturer, a review would be necessary before another three-year renewal.

In order to be promoted to Senior Lecturer, a faculty member must have taught at least 24 courses or taught at the college for five consecutive years. To put the ball in motion, a department chair must recommend the faculty member for the position and request a series of endorsements, including those from the associate dean and the directors of interdisciplinary programs in which the faculty member is involved.

The subcommittee is still working out some crucial details, including a planning system for department chairs, a mechanism for candidates to request consideration for the Senior Lecturer position from department chairs and a fast-track system to make that position conversion for current long-term NTTs. All of the policy details are expected to undergo revision before the position is finalized.