Academic Council Minutes

Special Session II on the Professional Track

January 22, 2002

 

 

Present: Lisa Carloye, Jeff Clark, Joyce Davis, Gerry Francis, Don Grady, Pam Kiser, Leo Lambert, Todd Lee Yoram Lubling, Buck McGregor, Becky Olive-Taylor, Jean Schwind (chair)

 

Guests: (PTP representatives to Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Status): Grace Bass, Kathy Lyday-Lee

 

 

I. The meeting was convened at 11:35. The minutes of the January 11, 2002, special session were corrected to include Elon’s commitment to increasing the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty in section I. It was also noted that I.b. (which acknowledges that the professional track “may be” a barrier to faculty recruitment) understates the truth. In many cases, it has most definitely operated as such a barrier.

 

II. We began by examining the fundamental principles that should guide our reexaminiation of the professional track. (These were summarized on the meeting agenda.) These principles were agreed upon:

 

1)      The number of tenured and tenure-track faculty at Elon should be increased.

2)      The proportion of tenured and tenure-track faculty should be brought in line with that of peer institutions (where 80-95% of faculty are tenured or tenure track).

3)      The professional track is a liability in hiring new faculty.

4)      We should not practice “surplus” tenure-track hiring with the expectation of elimination; faculty should be hired on the tenure track with the expectation that they’ll be tenured.

5)      No department should be “tenured in” except in extraordinary circumstances (i.e., the opportunity to build a premier department, hire a nationally recognized scholar, loss of a position within a department resulting in a fully tenured remainder, etc.).

 

There was inadequate discussion and no consensus on two principles:

 

6)      The promotion and tenure process should be reserved for tenure-track and tenured faculty.

7)      “Double-jeopardy” should be eliminated for faculty professionalized via PTP review.

 

 

III. Discussion turned to addressing some of the central questions identified on the agenda:

 

1)      Does Elon need continuing, non-tenure track appointments (i.e., a “reinvention” of the professional track or adoption of the lecturer/senior lecturer system)? Or are tenured/tenure-track and limited-term positions (instructor, visiting asst. professor) sufficient to meet our instructional needs?

 

There was general agreement that Elon needs continuing, non-tenure-track appointments. These positions allow us to maintain continuity in instructional programs and academic advising. We can hire better faculty for continuing positions than for limited-term ones, and the individuals hired for permanent positions are motivated to make a stronger commitment to the university and to our students.

 

We will also continue to need limited-term appointments to replace faculty on sabbatical leave or leading semesters abroad, faculty with reassigned time (i.e., to direct programs and grant projects), and to meet other temporary instructional needs.

 

 

2)      If we need a continuing, non-tenure track, should it be truly separate from the tenure-track, with different degree requirements, expectations, and rewards? (See President Lambert’s 1/15/02 email: “Tenure and tenure-track positions are clearly teacher-scholar appointments at Elon. Part-time or one-year limited-term appointments are principally teaching appointments. Can we envision a lecturer/senior lecturer appointment that might be described as ‘master teacher and university service’ appointments?”) If these two tracks are truly separate, should the conversion to tenure track be eliminated except for those who successfully compete in national searches?

 

There were proponents of two kinds of continuing, non-tenure-track appointments: a track like the current professional status (where faculty are “teacher/scholars” and have the same expectations and rewards as tenured and tenure-track faculty) and a lecturer/senior lecturer track (a truly separate track, which would emphasize teaching and service to the institution). It was noted that use of continuing, non-tenure-track appointments would probably vary greatly from department to department. Lecturer/senior lecturer appointments, for example, may be especially useful in departments that staff many introductory and foundational courses, need lab supervisors, etc.

 

Concern was expressed that establishing a second track with different expectations (i.e., for scholarship and terminal degree status) would create or exacerbate sense a class hierarchy among faculty. Would lecturers and senior lecturers feel subordinate and second-rate? Is being eligible to apply for sabbaticals and other research and development support the same as being expected and encouraged to seek institutional funding for scholarly projects?

 

In defense of a “real” two-track system, it was noted that complaints about the professional track often stem from its identity to the tenure track. As long as requirements for tenure and professionalization are identical, the inequality of rewards (tenure vs. professional status) will seem unjust.

 

We agreed that those hired for continuing, non tenure-track positions (whether a revised professional track line with asst./asso./full professor ranks identical to those of the tenure track or a lecturer line with different but parallel ranks) should be eligible for promotion. All faculty should undergo substantial reviews and be rewarded for excellent work.

 

IV. President Lambert asked that we aim for a May deadline in completing our work on the professional track. An unusually large turnover in Council membership (five new members will be elected in March) may make it difficult to carry this task into next fall. He asked that our recommendations to the faculty and trustees be presented in a concise and readily understandable fashion. He suggested that a matrix or chart might be designed with the kinds of appointments along one axis, and details about expectations and rewards (degree status, scope of job search, teaching/service/scholarship obligations, eligibility for promotion, eligibility for R&D funding, etc.) along the second axis. We will need to devise cogent rationales for whatever non-tenure tracks (visiting or limited term, lecturer/senior lecturer, reconfigured professionalization) we recommend.

 

The prospect of a May deadline raised questions about how our work will affect current searches. What should chairs tell prospective candidates for professional tracks positions? The Provost recommended that candidates be told these positions are continuing and non-tenure track, and they should be reassured that no one’s position will be worsened by any changes that may be implemented.

 

V. The meeting adjourned at 1:35.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Jean Schwind