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February 9, 2001

Senate set to discuss proposal for non-tenured positions

by Linda Charles
A proposed policy on non-tenure track faculty creates a new faculty designation and sets limits on the number of non-tenure track faculty allowed in departments and at Iowa State overall. The policy was developed by a Faculty Senate task force (chaired by senate president-elect Christine Pope) and will be considered by the senate during its Feb. 13 meeting.

Under the proposal, temporary faculty could be appointed to longer non-tenure track terms -- three years, with the possibility of renewal for a second three-year term. Tenure-line faculty would oversee the positions.

After two terms, a person holding such a position could be appointed to a continuing position of senior "lecturer" or "clinician," with approval of the appropriate faculty. These continuing faculty would be peer-reviewed every five years, with termination possible after the sixth year.

In addition, the task force that prepared the proposed policy recommends that the number of non-tenure track faculty be limited to 15 percent in any department, and 5 percent in any college and the university as a whole.

Senate President David Hopper said the task force proposal was prompted by the administration's consideration of continuous non-tenure track faculty positions in the College of Veterinary Medicine and perhaps other colleges.

While the university has used temporary faculty for years, those appointments have required yearly reappointments, with a cap on the number of times a person can be reappointed. In addition, usually a department DEO or other administrator is in charge of hiring and reappointing temporary faculty. This sidesteps the faculty's ability to have a say on who their colleagues are, Hopper said.

While the senate would like all faculty positions to be tenure-line, Hopper said it recognizes that can't always happen. Because of budget concerns, the university often does not have enough funds to hire people who will be actively engaged in scholarship, teaching and outreach. In many instances, temporary faculty are hired, at lower salaries, to teach "service" courses, such as English 104, or conduct research at many of the university's centers.

Hopper said the proposed policy is an effort to give temporary faculty more job security, and at the same time, preserve academic freedom and faculty responsibility for the curriculum.

During open forums held last week to gather faculty input on the proposed policy, some temporary faculty objected to tenure-line faculty overseeing their work, saying that made it appear they weren't doing an adequate job.

But Hopper said the intent of the proposal is to give non-tenure track faculty as much job security and academic freedom as possible, by taking the reappointment away from the "caprice" of a single person, such as a DEO, and giving it to a group of people, who are less likely to be swayed by a single incident or personality conflict. Also, he said, many of those in non-tenure track positions teach, and the faculty has a responsibility to oversee the curriculum.

Some temporary faculty at the forums indicated they were more concerned about job security than academic freedom.

Others at the forums questioned the proposed percentage caps on non-tenure track faculty, worrying that the caps wouldn't be high enough to allow temporary faculty to continue to teach the large number of service courses some departments must offer.

Discussion of the proposed policy has just begun. The task force is expected to make revisions, based on comments from the open forums, and present the proposal to the senate this month.

The senate will discuss the proposed policy at both its February and March meetings, and vote on it in March. If the senate approves a policy, it will be presented to the administration.

In all probability, the administration and senate will need to work out differences, Hopper said, and if the policy is substantially changed, it will be returned to the senate for approval. If the final policy contains a new type of faculty appointment, it also would need to be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

The senate will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, in 260 Scheman. The meeting is open to the public.

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