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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Dec. 7, 2007

Senate stuck on non-tenure research position

by Erin Rosacker

Senators failed to clear the non-tenure eligible research faculty (NTER) item from the Faculty Senate docket, despite setting a deadline to put the resolution to a vote by its Dec. 11 meeting. After nearly an hour of debate, the body voted 31-20 to postpone the vote until the Jan. 15 meeting.

The resolution -- which would create a research professor position in the ranks of full, associate and assistant -- was first introduced at the senate's April 24 meeting, after a task force issued its report in February 2007.

Since its introduction, the language in the resolution was revised Nov. 6 and again on Dec. 4. The December changes used information gathered from a pair of November open forums hosted by the senate. The revisions clarified that:

  • Compensation for teaching by NTER faculty must be externally funded
  • The number of people -- not FTEs -- will be used to calculate the ratio limit of NTER to tenured/tenure-track faculty
  • The provost must monitor and report NTER appointments
  • The provost must approve NTER appointments and renewals

During the Dec. 11 discussion, the senate amended (on a 37-18 vote) a policy provision that allows dual faculty and P&S appointments (at the P-17 level and higher). The amendment, proposed by associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences Claudia Baldwin, restricts research professors from holding a P&S appointment unless "governmental stipulations require an appointment as a P&S staff member." It further states that dual appointments must be approved by the provost and Faculty Senate president, and reported annually to the senate body.

"I strongly believe that there is a need for us to have non-tenure eligible faculty positions, but this was not created so that our P&S staff could hold those titles," Baldwin said.

Arnold Van Der Valk, professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, proposed an amendment to change the title from research professor to research scientist. The measure narrowly failed after senate president Sedahlia Crase cast the deciding "no" vote following a 28-28-1 written ballot.

Additional concerns raised during the discussion included the impact of the new position on the number of tenure-track positions, difficulty in tracking ratios of all non-tenure eligible positions and whether the "research professor" title sounds as prestigious as a "distinguished" or "university" professor designation.

Lecturers and clinicians

Another non-tenure item will be considered for a vote at January's meeting. Changes to the lecturer/clinician policy were introduced, including elimination of the six-year renewal limit for lecturers and clinicians who haven't advanced to a senior position.

With the six-year deadline approaching this spring for some lecturers and clinicians, Crase urged senators to tinker with the agenda and allow time for the first reading of the policy changes.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, chair of the faculty development and administrative relations council, said the changes focused on more flexibility, minimum levels of employment for advancement and options for advancement. Evaluation and review methods also were added.

"We wanted some type of uniformity for when people in these positions would be reviewed for advancement," VanDerZanden said. "We realize that a full-time appointment in one department is different than in another department and we didn't want to set parameters, because it needs to be variable by department."