Committee G to present concerns

Laura Kennedy

The ISU faculty group Committee G will be presenting several concerns to the Faculty Senate after more than 20 non-tenure faculty attended its first meeting Sept. 20.

John Pleasants, Committee G chairman, said he and other members have identified four areas of concern which include job security, academic freedom, professional development and representation.

Pleasants, temporary assistant professor of zoology and genetics, said job security is a No. 1 issue for the committee since many temporary instructors wait all summer to find out if they have a fall contract.

“This creates anxiety among temporary instructors, and some must seek other jobs because of the uncertainty,” he said.

Academic freedom was another concern for many participants of the first Committee G meeting, said Suzanne Guess, co-chair for the committee. She said a non-tenure track instructor can be terminated for any reason due to the way their contracts are written, so many choose not to “rock the boat” for fear of losing their jobs. “Some people indicated that they had colleagues who wanted to attend but didn’t because of fear of retaliation from their respective departments,” she said.

Professional development of non-tenure faculty has also been a concern, Pleasants said. He said the university has made it clear that it believes the research the faculty does enhances their teaching but does not allow them to apply for research grants through the university. “At present, it is very difficult for temporary instructors to do research,” he said. “Longer-term appointments should dispel that problem”

Pleasants also said since temporary instructors do not have summer teaching commitments means they would have time to do research while not detracting from their teaching efforts.

“The problems facing non-tenure track faculty are nationwide – not just specific to ISU,” Guess said. “Changes at ISU are imminent, but the details have yet to be worked out, and there are plenty of models to work from.”

While the administration has been open about its desire to create permanent positions, Guess said once these positions are created there will be a national search for applicants instead of just at Iowa State.

Pleasants said the administration has many plans for non-tenure faculty in the future, and that the group is beginning to see some positive steps in its efforts. He said one sign of these positive steps is a new task force consisting of Committee G members, Faculty Senate members and administration to discuss the issues.

Other ideas being discussed by the administration, Pleasants said, are searching nationally for longer-term appointments, changing the name title from “temporary” to instructor or lecturer and keeping a limit on the number of faculty that are non-tenure. “We feel we can work with the faculty and administration on this and other issues,” Pleasants said.