volume 40, number 2
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Temple’s Self-Study: Unanswered Questions About Faculty Staffing
Arthur Hochner, President, TAUP & Associate Professor, Human Resource Management,
The Fox School


Arthur Hochner,
President, TAUP & Associate Professor, Human Resource Management,
The Fox School

In October of this year, Temple Today reported that a draft of the university's Self-Study, the next phase in Middle States reaccreditation for 2009-10, was ready for review. Faculty, staff and students were encouraged to read the report and submit comments.  The document (no longer available online) was more than 300 pages long.  One key part, a 21-page chapter on faculty, covered issues of recruitment, hiring, retention, professional development, research, and curriculum development.

 

This chapter left much to be desired.  Though full of information and data, important questions went unasked and, of course, unanswered. What are the proper proportions of tenured, untenured, nontenure-track and adjunct faculty?  What is the impact of the composition of the faculty on the fulfillment of the university’s mission?

 

According to the Middle States standards, “‘faculty’ should be broadly construed to encompass qualified professionals” with teaching responsibilities, i.e., both full-time and adjunct faculty.  Moreover, the standards state, “There should be an adequate core of faculty and other qualified professionals that is responsible to the institution, supports the programs offered, and assures the continuity and coherence of the institution’s programs.”

 

Middle States leaves it to the institution to determine what is an “adequate core of faculty.” Nonetheless, a research university needs a substantial core of tenured faculty.  Heavy reliance on nontenure-track and adjunct faculty are not good for continuity and coherence.

 

Using data provided in the self-study, of the 3,410 faculty in fall 2008, 29.0% were tenure-track or tenured (TT+T), 24.6% were nontenure-track (NTT) and 46.4% adjunct faculty.  From 2005 to 2008 the proportion of TT+T faculty declined, even as their numbers increased slightly, by 2.2%.  Meanwhile, NTT faculty increased by 17.0%.  Likewise, adjunct numbers showed a 6.2% increase.

 

Actually, the trend toward NTTs is even more pronounced in the TAUP schools, which teach the undergraduate curriculum.  Focusing on full-time faculty, from 2005 to 2008, the proportion of TT+T faculty declined from 69% to 61%, while the corresponding proportions of NTTs rose from 31% to 39%.  In the non-TAUP schools (Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Podiatry), the proportions remained fairly steady – about 35% TT+T and 65% NTT – until 2008, when there actually was an increase of TT+T faculty to 39% and a decrease to 61% of NTTs.

 

The Self-Study says, “Recently, the university has focused heavily on tenure-track faculty hiring.”  However, only in the non-TAUP schools has the proportion of TT+T faculty grown.  In the TAUP schools it has shrunk.

 

Why is this happening and what does it mean?  The Self-Study says, “The role of the full-time non-tenure track (NTT) faculty which has been expanding over the past decade became more pronounced following the collective bargaining agreement with TAUP in October 2004,” because the 7-year limit on NTT appointments was removed.  But this is not accurate. The trend began well before the 2004 contract.  TAUP data show that in 2001, 81% of the full-time faculty was TT+T and 19% NTT. That changed to 71% TT+T and 29% NTT by 2003.  TAUP’s fall 2009 data show a small uptick of TT+T and a corresponding small decrease of NTTs.  It is too early to tell whether this is a possible trend reversal.  If so, it is a welcome one.

 

TAUP does not have data regarding adjuncts in TAUP schools.  But adjunct staffing likely follows the same pattern as NTT staffing, given that the increase in student enrollment, hence the need for more faculty, is biggest in TAUP schools.

 

Why has the role of NTT and adjunct faculty been expanding, while the role of TT+T faculty been declining?  It is disingenuous to emphasize the hiring of TT+T faculty without also stating that there has been even more hiring of NTT and adjunct faculty. What is the impact on curriculum, instruction, research, creative activity and shared governance?  These questions are the elephant in the room that the Self-Study ignores.

 

The Self-Study document says, “Schools and colleges are the primary determiners of new faculty hiring.”  Furthermore, “non-tenure track faculty hiring is based on curricular needs and is at the department chair/unit head and dean’s discretion.”  It sounds as if the upper administration has no role.  Can we ignore the important, indeed governing, roles that budgetary considerations and managerial control play in hiring?  NTT and adjunct faculty cost less, teach more and are on limited-term contracts.

 

What difference do these staffing patterns make?  Undergraduates are increasingly being taught by NTT and adjunct faculty.  These faculty lack a long-term commitment from the university.  While many of them have the desire to make a long-term commitment, their pay and working conditions leave them less secure and affect how much mentoring they may be able to offer students.  Often their heavy teaching assignments leave them no time for research and for involving students in that endeavor.   In fact, some NTTs are actively discouraged from conducting research.  Their efforts are excluded from consideration in reappointment, promotion and merit decisions.

 

NTTs have won better pay, benefits, and improvements in job security and procedures for appointment, reappointment, evaluation, and promotion through TAUP negotiations, especially in the new 2008-2012 contract.  NTTs have been granted the right by the Faculty Senate and collegial bylaws to participate in shared governance at the college and university level.  There is still a long way to go, however.  And there are many functions that only tenured faculty are qualified to perform.

 

With respect to adjuncts, the Middle States standards say, “For institutions relying on part-time, adjunct, temporary, or other faculty on time-limited contracts, employment policies and practices should be as carefully developed and communicated as those for full-time faculty.”  Their specific requirements call for “published and implemented standards for all faculty and other professionals, for actions such as appointment, promotion, tenure, grievance, discipline and dismissal, based on principles of fairness with due regard for the rights of all persons.”  Moreover, they call for “criteria for the appointment, supervision, and review of teaching effectiveness for part-time, adjunct, and other faculty consistent with those for full-time faculty.”

 

Temple’s Self-Study draft “recognizes the important role that adjuncts, many of whom are specialists in their fields, fill within each school and college.”   This implies that adjuncts provide specialized skills not found in the full-time faculty.  This is especially true in a handful of fields, for instance music, business, law and journalism.  But why are adjuncts used?  Where is the data on who teaches what courses?  Indeed, many adjuncts teach basic writing, basic math, and other important undergraduate courses.  Full-time faculty also teach these courses, so why not hire more of them?

 

The Self-Study refers to the policy on adjunct faculty, first issued in 2003 and updated in 2008, which defines their role, titles and compensation.  However, contrary to the claim that “the University has published and implemented standards and procedures for all faculty and other professionals for promotion, tenure, grievance, discipline, and dismissal,” no such standards and procedures for adjuncts are available. The Adjunct Faculty Handbook does not cover most of these important matters.

 

Policies and practices with respect to employment of adjuncts are unavailable.  The document speaks of “university-wide policy on adjunct appointments, as well as individual school and college appointment guidelines,” but where can they be found?

 

Finally, we are told that “the policy on adjunct faculty defines their role in the university, titles, and compensation/salary minima... The policy also standardized, and in most places, increased the salaries allocated to adjunct faculty.”  However, what is the process for moving from one step to the next on the salary scale?  In fact, where is the salary scale?  It has been removed from the website where it was published in 2005.

 

Many adjuncts have experienced no salary increases in the past two years.  Adjuncts are not covered by a union contract, unlike all the other eligible professional employees of Temple.  Although Temple expresses sensitivity to the plight of adjuncts, many of whom are young, dependent on more than one adjunct position, and vulnerable to exploitation, the university has not provided the hard information, statistics, salary data, etc., which would allow us to evaluate the situation of adjuncts relative to other professionals here at Temple.

 

NTTs and adjuncts are valued colleagues.  But they cannot replace the core of tenured and tenure-track faculty.  The proper proportion of NTTs and adjuncts relative to the core of tenure-track and tenured faculty needs to be addressed.  Nevertheless, ALL faculty need to be treated as Middle State requires, as professionals important to the educational, research and service mission of the university.