Senate discusses policy on non-tenure faculty

Laura Kennedy

Faculty Senate members discussed and considered a proposed policy on non-tenure faculty at their meeting Tuesday.Christie Pope, chairwoman of the task force on non-tenure track faculty appointments, introduced a report to the senate for discussion and questions which the task force had been working on since September.Pope, president-elect of the Faculty Senate, said the committee is made up of representatives from each college who have been gathering input from various members of the university community such as administrators, deans, temporary faculty and adjuncts.She said the report is also based on feedback from forums and other groups on campus and would be one of the major changes at the university in the last decade.”We want to get this right because we know you want to get this right,” said Pope, associate professor of history.The American Association of University Professors has suggested that non-tenure track faculty can teach no more than 15 percent of university instruction, and one particular department cannot have more than 25 percent non-tenure faculty, she said.Pope said one of the biggest issues facing non-tenure track faculty is academic freedom.”There is no question that people with tenure are able to teach in a [different] way than those who don’t have tenure,” she said.She said her committee also found self-censorship among non-tenure track faculty.”We have all these temporary instructors that are teaching the same courses, year after year — what’s temporary about that?” Pope said.She said there are various possibilities and choices to solve the problem. One option could be to go the Iowa Legislature in hopes of receiving more money, Pope said, adding that the Faculty Senate is not allowed to lobby.Another possibility would be to put a cap on enrollment and only teach the number of students the university is able to teach, she said. “It’s difficult to turn away qualified Iowa students,” Pope said.John Robyt, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, said he was concerned the proposal was essentially creating two kinds of faculty. “It seems there would be an unequal two tiers of faculty, and that would not be a good thing,” he said.Bill Woodman, task force member, said he has been unhappy with the way the some faculty members have been treated. “The university has been playing a giant shell game with temporary faulty for years,” said Woodman, professor of sociology.He said he thinks there is nothing temporary about these positions at all and that they are permanent positions, but the faculty rotates.”There is an absolutely immoral habit of putting a time limit on these people who are performing an important and often very high-quality service to a department and then simply rotating them through for a given period of time and casting them out the door,” Woodman said.