Changing Landscape for Non-tenure Track Faculty

At PSfaculty 2U, like many universities, our Promotion and Tenure Guidelines (pp. 13-18) recognize different faculty classifications. We have tenure-track and tenured faculty; full-time instructional and research non-tenure track faculty (NTTF) (formerly fixed-term faculty); and part-time faculty. Regardless of category or rank, every faculty member contributes to the high quality learning environment and overall student experience.

While we recognize there are differences between classifications and rank, it is vital that we support and respect all faculty; for the benefit of the individual, our students and the University.

Working together to support faculty
Collaboration among our faculty and administrative groups and associations (Faculty Senate, the Academic Leadership Team, PSUFA, and PSU AAUP) has ensured professional development funds, criteria for promotion, multi-year contracts, and fair processes for evaluation. The most recent example of this is the work of a joint University and AAUP task force on Article 18.

The University and PSU AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 18, Section 9, called to create a joint labor/management task force to examine current employment terms and notice requirements for non-tenure track faculty, particularly the need for and timing of the end-of-year non-renewal letters.

The task force was charged to examine options for indefinite contracts for NTTF. In addition, it examined ways of providing enhanced job security for these faculty that support the needs and demands of individual departments, including their curricular and student needs in alignment with the University’s priorities.

Work of the Article 18 task force
At the start of the academic year AAUP leadership and I appointed a 10 member task force (listed below). They began their work in October 2014, meeting frequently, and concluded in February 2015. Access full report here.

The members of the task force did amazing work. They examined current PSU practices; researched how other universities provide for indefinite appointments for non-tenure related faculty; looked at the roles, responsibilities and advancement opportunities; and discussed how to recognize the service of current non-tenure track faculty members.

Task force made various recommendations to me and to the AAUP, including the following:

  • That PSU and AAUP write mutually acceptable contract language and implementation policies based upon the task force’s proposals and recommendations.
  • That PSU and AAUP engage in interim bargaining, so that new policies can go into effect by the 2015/16 academic year.
  • That implementation procedures be designed in a way that recognizes and rewards the service of current non-tenure track faculty members.
  • The establishment of a committee to create a bridge funding pool to cover temporary lulls in funding for PSU research units.
  • A review of the current promotional pathways for non-tenure track faculty members and exploration of ways to expand advancement.

What is next?
I support the University and AAUP using the task force work as the foundation for discussing and developing mutually acceptable Article 18 contract language and implementation policies.

While the task force recommended that contract language be written now, in interim bargaining through a Memorandum of Understanding, I believe the University and AAUP, with our shared interests in a positive outcome, can address this as a primary topic in interest-based bargaining (IBB) rather than using our old methods of positional bargaining. Our IBB sessions are scheduled to begin in May.

See IBB blog posts written in October 2014 and February 2015 for further details.

What do faculty think?
I encourage faculty members to read and discuss the task force report, and to share opinions and ideas freely.

Because some items may require changes in the Promotion and Tenure Guidelines, it will be important to get input from the Faculty Senate as well.

I am confident we can make positive and significant changes. I know I speak for many when I say that we welcome the opportunity to work together to better recognize the efforts of our non-tenure track faculty, improve their experience on campus, and demonstrate our commitment to them.

Article 18 Task Force Members
I thank the task force members for their great work:
Matthew Carlson, Sociology
Jennifer Chambers, Dean’s Office, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Robert Daasch, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Robert Gould, Conflict Resolution
David Hansen, School of Business Administration
Christina Kraus, Human Resources
Michael Lupro, University Studies
Alan MacCormack, University Studies
Meg Merrick, Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies
Stephen Percy, College of Urban and Public Affairs
Leanne Serbulo, University Studies

Ex Officio
Christina Kraus, Human Resources
Phil Lesch, Executive Director, AAUP


2 thoughts on “Changing Landscape for Non-tenure Track Faculty

  1. Sona,

    Good that you wrote about this, but it would have been helpful if you had provided more info on what the Taskforce actually recommended. The notion of developing a tenure-track like system is quite revolutionary and will require lots of education before faculty are ready to accept it. Can’t start too early…

    On Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 11:07 AM, Sona Andrews’ Blog wrote:

    > Sona Andrews posted: “At PSU, like many universities, our Promotion > and Tenure Guidelines (pp. 13-18) recognize different faculty > classifications. We have tenure-track and tenured faculty; full-time > instructional and research non-tenure track faculty (NTTF) (formerly > fixed-ter”


  2. It always seemed like poor management practice to send out “Christmas letters” to faculty who are so essential to the institution. Glad to see this task force report promoting a more generative and rational approach to this aspect of talent management :).


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