Iowa State University nameplate

Inside Iowa State
Gold bar
March 9, 2001

Senators reject teaching cap provision

by Linda Charles
To cap or not to cap -- that is the question.

In the Faculty Senate's case, the answer during the March 6 meeting was "not to."

Under discussion is a proposed policy that would provide temporary faculty longer employment opportunities, but limit the percentage of total course credit hours that could be taught by non-tenure track faculty.

The proposed policy called for limiting the percentage of course hours taught by non-tenure track faculty to 15 percent in any department, and 5 percent in any college and the university as a whole. These caps would be met within five years.

The senate voted 40 to 18 in favor of striking the section calling for the caps. The senate turned down the section despite a revision that would have allowed departments to apply to the senate for exceptions to the caps.

Several senators and visitors objected to the caps, arguing that many temporary faculty would lose their jobs if the caps were approved and that their departments could not afford to replace temporary faculty with tenure track faculty.

Senate president-elect Christine Pope, who chaired the task force that prepared the policy, said while the intent of the new policy is to provide better treatment for non-tenure track faculty, it also was crafted to make a statement that there is a difference between tenure track and non-tenure track faculty. She noted tenure track faculty go through a "rigorous" probationary period during which they must demonstrate their skills in not only teaching, but also in research and service.

Non-tenure track faculty are required to perform in only one area -- teaching, she said. Pope said the task force wanted to make sure the number of non-tenure track faculty doesn't grow out of control.

"We believe that most teaching should be done by tenure track faculty," she said.

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. (Currently full-time temporary faculty generally receive one-year contracts, with a cap of five years' employment.) After two terms, a person holding a non-tenure track position could be appointed, with the approval of appropriate faculty, to a continuing position of senior "lecturer" or "clinician." These continuing faculty would be peer-reviewed every five years, with termination possible after the sixth year.

A few senators voiced other criticisms of the proposed policy. Some said the policy doesn't solve the real problems, such as assuring all who teach academic freedom in the classroom. Others objected to the two-tier system of faculty it would create.

Charles Kostelnick, chair of the English department, while strongly disagreeing with the caps, urged the senate to approve a policy that would improve the conditions for temporary faculty. He noted there's a large turnover among temporary faculty because they know at the end of five years they no longer will be allowed to teach full time.

"Those who stay are compensated at the end of five years with a cut in pay," Kostelnick said, adding that after five years, temporary faculty must go to an 80 percent teaching load if they wish to continue at the university.

The senate agreed to continue discussion of the policy during its April 10 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in 220 Scheman.

... Becoming the Best
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
Copyright © 1995-2001, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.