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

Jan. 18, 2008

Faculty Senate approves policy changes for lecturer and clinician appointments

by Erin Rosacker

Tuesday's Faculty Senate meeting featured a lengthy agenda -- so long, in fact, that despite extending the meeting, senators adjourned before making it to the end of the list.

The meeting stalled on the third of five items up for a vote, proposed revisions to a policy on hiring and reappointing non-tenure eligible faculty positions. The new language, which eliminates a six-year renewal limit for lecturers and clinicians who have not advanced to the senior level, passed after an hour of discussion. Without a change to the current policy, some faculty would have faced termination of their contracts this spring.

The policy revisions erase the six-year limit, instead making six years a minimum requirement (along with 12 semesters of full-time employment) to earn a senior title. Mandatory reviews -- annually by departments and at least every three years by a faculty committee -- also were added. Three possible outcomes for an advancement review were defined:

  • Advancement to senior level
  • Continuation of appointment as a lecturer or clinician
  • Non-renewal of contract.

Opponents to the changes charged that the revisions allowed lecturers and clinicians to live out their careers in these "term" positions and argued the changes would allow departments to take advantage of lecturers and clinicians by offering one-year contracts with no job security.

"You have people that are stuck in these one-year appointment positions and are unable - if the department chair doesn't want to put them in a senior position -- to advance into any other position," said Martha Selby, adjunct assistant professor of materials science and engineering. "One of the reasons we created this was to not get people into these no-job-security, one-year appointments for long periods of time."

But supporters cited better flexibility, the ability to retain good teachers and departmental budget constraints among their arguments.

"The concerns expressed by the [department] chairs were that they had good people they wanted to keep, but would have to terminate unless they met the requirements for advancement to senior," said Claudia Baldwin, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences. "I really think this began as a way to keep good people, not to terminate them."

"That problem was compounded by the fact that there are very few people available in Ames, Iowa, to teach the very specialized courses that need to be covered," said Charlie Kostelnick, chair of the English department. "And so the senior lecturer advancement as the only way to continually employ someone beyond six years was really problematic."

During meetings with department heads, lecturers and clinicians last fall, senate leaders found that not all lecturers and clinicians wanted the senior title. Kostelnick said an estimated nine English lecturers faced the six-year limit this year.

"We would like to continue to employ some of these people - they are good teachers - but for one reason or another, they have elected not to be reviewed for senior lecturer and their careers would simply end," he said.

Senators finally approved the policy revisions, voting 41-17-1 in favor. Senate president Sedahlia Crase said an immediate decision on this issue was important.

"It was time-sensitive because we had to implement a decision right away," Crase said. "Next month was too late for the people facing termination this year."

Non-tenure research faculty vote postponed again

Despite a self-imposed Dec. 11 deadline for a decision, a vote on the resolution to create a non-tenure eligible research faculty position will move to February's agenda. The research faculty position (assistant, associate and full professor) was introduced last April and debated throughout the fall semester. There was no discussion at Tuesday's meeting.

A vote on changes to the senate's open meetings policy and introduction of a resolution in support of the "Keep Iowa State Beautiful" initiative also remained on the unfinished agenda.

The senate did take action on three additional items:

  • Approved procedural changes for edits to the Faculty Handbook, giving the governance and documents committee freedom to change "non-substantive" items without full senate approval
  • Approved creating a committee to oversee continual review of college and department governance documents for compliance with the Faculty Handbook
  • Voted Arnold Van Der Valk (professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology) to serve as president-elect, beginning next fall.


"It was time-sensitive because we had to implement a decision right away. Next month was too late for the people facing termination this year."

Sedahlia Crase, Faculty Senate president