Welcome to the Spring Semester!! Many, many exciting changes are taking place across campus, and many are the direct result of this association. We've been in existence for under a year, yet we have had phenomenal success! Much of this success is due to President Votruba and Provost Gaston's willingness to listen to our concerns. What follows is a summary of the most recent events since our last newsletter.
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING DATE SET
On Wednesday, February 24, 1999, we will hold a meeting of the general membership of the association in the University Center Theater from 3:00 to 4:30. We will elect a new Executive Committee and set goals and objectives for the next year. Please attend and bring a fellow faculty member.... this is an important meeting!
REPORT ON THE OPEN FORUMS
On December 2 and 3, 1998, President Votruba and Provost Gaston met with members of the Association in Support of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty, as well as other interested university faculty, staff, and students, to discuss the theme "What We Must Do Together." The two meetings proved informative, the discussions provocative, the initiative inspiring. Many of us who were present felt we have an opportunity to become a national model for cooperative interaction among full and part-time faculty, students, and administrators, coming together as we are to address common needs and concerns at NKU.
Because approximately 30% of our credit hours are generated by non-tenure-track faculty, and 70% of those who teach our freshmen are part-time faculty, President Votruba expressed concern that non-tenure-track faculty begin to feel more satisfied with their experiences at NKU and better integrated into campus life. Research suggests that the resulting satisfaction will benefit students through better instruction and more positive interaction between faculty and students inside and outside the classroom. At present, Director of First-Year Programs Fran Zaniello explained, we lose as many students in their first year at NKU as we do in their final three years of study combined. To promote better student retention, we agreed that we need greater stability among non-tenure-track faculty in our general studies program; better remuneration of those faculty; more opportunities for advancement and for rewarding excellence for those faculty; better integration of these individuals into the university; and greater recognition of their contributions on our campus. Such efforts will not only benefit our non-tenure-track faculty but also the students they teach and the university community they serve.
Over the past year, President Votruba, Provost Gaston, the Association for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty, and many other interested individuals on campus have begun to address these issues. What follows is a summary of the progress reported, as well as the suggestions made and plans discussed, at the two December Forum meetings.
A. What Has Been Accomplished in 1998:
B. What Is Being Done At Present:
C. Plans for the Future:
Part-Time Faculty Development Grant Recipients
When the Association officers met in the spring, we realized that we needed to know more about our constituency. Who were these part-time/full-time faculty members? What issues were important to them? What statistics could we compile that would enable us to serve those faculty members most efficiently?
Early this semester, the Association distributed a four-page survey to non-tenure track faculty. We discovered that the mailing lists available for non-tenure track faculty were often incomplete or outdated. However, we made every effort to reach as many constituents as possible.
This survey was never intended to be a scientific accounting. It was simply the method we chose to gain information on our members and to offer some preliminary data in our ongoing cooperative effort with the administration.
Approximately 180 surveys were returned. We say "approximately" because some are still dribbling in daily. However, based on the surveys we have tabulated thus far, here are some facts we would like to share.
Faculty members from 27 different departments responded to the survey. We were delighted that we had been able to reach such a cross-section despite the initial mailing problems. Within those departments, a wide-range of areas of expertise were represented, from accounting to developmental math to labor studies to respiratory care to University 101.
The third question asked: "What is your position?" The responses were quite varied: Adjunct Instructor, Adjunct Level III, Adjunct Professor...Lecturer, Lecturer Renewable, Lecturer Temporary, Lecturer III.... Part-Time, Part-Time Instructor, Part-Time Clinical Instructor, Part-Time Assistant Professor...Temporary Assistant Professor...the list goes on. We realized that there was no university-wide terminology for certain positions and no job descriptions accompanying those positions. Responsibilities, salaries, working conditions all varied on a department-to-department basis. While flexibility is certainly an important element in hiring non-tenure track faculty, the lack of any coordination on rank/salary/benefit coordination appears to be one area in which progress needs to be made.
In the section of the survey dealing with personal facts, we discovered that approximately 63% of the non-tenure track faculty responding were women and that, ethnically, the vast majority were Caucasian.
In the area of education, we discovered that many of our non-tenure track faculty hold terminal degrees. In our sampling, we counted 20 Ph.D's, 7 A.B.D.'s, 10 M.F.A.'s and 6 J.D.'s. One hundred and four of the respondees held Master's Degrees in their field. The descriptions of professional experience were also quite varied. Much of this information is anecdotal; however, it certainly helped us get a better idea of how much experience our non-tenure track faculty bring to the campus.
Many of the non-tenure track faculty teach the lower-level general studies courses. These courses are often among the largest which NKU offers. When we asked about hours per week spent working on classes outside of contact hours, the majority of respondees indicated that they spent more (and many emphasized "much more") than eight hours in preparation and grading outside the classroom.
The question "How long have you taught at NKU?" reflected another area that the Association feels needs to be addressed. Forty-one respondees were in their first semester at NKU; however, 45 respondees had been at NKU over 7 years...30 over 10 years...and 16 over 15 years. One respondee has been teaching at NKU for 29 years.
While the majority of respondees do not teach anywhere other than NKU, 51 do. And, they teach at many other institutions, including area high schools, Miami University, Mt. Saint Joseph, UC, Xavier, UK, U of L and Lexington Community College. These answers reflect the amount of travel time which some of our faculty must endure in order to make a living wage. Ninety-nine of the respondees held second jobs that were not education-related. In fact, the majority of the respondees indicated that their job at NKU was not their primary employment.
The survey asked: "What is your primary reason for teaching at NKU?" Although these answers are also anecdotal and, therefore, unable to be tabulated, reading through the responses provided us with more insight into our constituents. Some teach because they love it, some because they need the money, some because tenure-track positions are few-and-far-between, and some because they are geographically tied to this area.
We then explored the support that the university and its departments offered to non-tenure track faculty. Advance notification of a teaching schedule was a sore point. Seventy-five respondees received less than a month's notice for preparation...17 received less than a week. The orientation procedures related to teaching at NKU provided a broad range of responses. Some loved the university orientation and hated the departmental program. Of course, the reverse was also true. Fifty-eight respondees were dissatisfied with the whole package. However, 102 were very pleased.
The majority of the non-tenure track faculty take on additional responsibilities while teaching at NKU. These range from advising to coaching to running departmental functions to serving on departmental and university committees...most without additional compensation. Many also represent NKU to the community at-large by joining recruitment events, taking workshops to high schools and serving on civic committees as representatives of NKU.
Lest you think that the non-tenure track faculty is a discontented, rabble-rousing crowd, we discovered that the majority of the respondees were very satisfied with teaching at NKU as compared to the level of satisfaction at their other places of employment. In fact, the vast majority were extremely satisfied overall with their NKU experience. Only 15 respondees rated their experience as a disappointment.
Moreover, the respondees were also very complimentary of their departments, although the number of negative responses did rise to 39. The people who were not satisfied noted lack of office space, lack of access to technology and lack of respect from tenured faculty as the most prevalent problems.
Sixty-two of the respondees have no interest in being considered for full-time/tenure-track positions; however, 81 are very interested in pursuing full-time, permanent employment. Most of the respondees were geographically mobile and could pursue full employment in other regions of the country. However, 50 were geographically tied to this area.
Finally, the Association asked questions concerning finances of the non-tenure track faculty. Seventy-two respondees make less than $25,000 a year and 49 respondees have experienced only one pay raise during their time here. Only five of the respondees indicated that they received a minimal raise each academic year.
While the Association realizes that these results do not represent the whole picture surrounding our non-tenure track colleagues, we still believe that this survey provided us with vital information about how the university and the individual departments can join with us to improve the lives of our non-tenured faculty.
ARE YOU AWARE???
It is in the direct interest of permanent faculty to support their non-tenure-track colleagues. A majority of professors see this, but some are apathetic about the circumstances of others and a smaller group are actively hostile to improvements in the conditions of non-tenure-track, blaming them unreasonably for the erosion of faculty status in the universities and believing that any help given to the non-permanent robs the tenured faculty. Nothing could be further from the truth. To turn away from the problems of the non-tenure-track is to promote status decline for all.
To begin with, the trend towards use of temporary instructors is part of a larger management shift towards contract labor in all areas of the workplace. This development is not going to go away, at least not in the near future, and to ignore it is to lose control of our own working environment. For example, over 50% of faculty nationwide are now temporary. They are largely without serious representation in the universities' collegial governance processes. Faculty representative bodies have failed almost universally to include the temporary and their needs. Because these faculty are without a voice, faculty as a whole have had their voice cut in half. To ignore the temporary faculty is to deny the reality of a precarious shared situation and thus to jeopardize the future of the permanent professoriate, also.
Consider, further, how the poor remuneration of temporary faculty threatens the well-being of all. A state legislator notes that two instructors at a regional university have the same teaching load but one earns about $10,000 per year while the other earns $45,000 per year. How long will it take the politician to reason out that the job can be done more cheaply by getting rid of, or diminishing the remuneration of, the higher paid instructor? Of course, it is true that permanent faculty perform other services for the university and community other than teaching, such as research, but the value of these is largely lost on politicians and we have undercut our own credibility on this battlefield by claiming to be only "teaching universities."
Tenure will not be a protection for much longer against the general depression of faculty status; it has already gone in Britain, possibly the closest counterpart to American trends, and it has been abolished in sectors of American education. Here again, faculty division has invited our own discomforture. The defense of tenure as vital to academic freedom is undermined by the fact that only half the profession enjoys this protection: does academic freedom only matter in half of our classrooms? Of course not. Tenure is more and more transparently a matter of job security for the fortunate in a profession where chronic professional instability is increasingly the lot of the many.
The moral is clear -- when a profession ignores the deprivations endured by its most vulnerable members, those deprivations will finally impact all. We may either be dragged down by the weight of the depressed or we may try to stabilize our common future by working to improve the conditions for the least well treated and thus leaven the situation for all.
All faculty are affected by the increase in contract teaching labor. Permanent faculty have had their work loads radically increased by the failure to hire tenure-track junior colleagues to assist in the non-teaching labor of the university -- service, advising, and scholarship. We have responded with an absolute lack of creativity. For example, why not support the service of long-standing part-time faculty on appropriate committees, e.g. curriculum, in return for an additional stipend? As temporary faculty generate about 70% of our General Studies credit hours at NKU, and thus must be assumed to have the greatest familiarity as a group with our freshman intake, wouldn't it make sense to pay specially chosen part-time faculty, master teachers, to offer continuous advising to students in the freshman program? We would all gain by the improvement in students' attitudes to their undergraduate careers and an improved retention rate.
But, says the skeptical tenured professor, if we pay temporary faculty more, there will be less for me. This argument is erroneous. It assumes that there is a specific pot of money designated only for salaries, and, if a dollar from the pot goes to temporary instructor A, it is denied to permanent instructor B, who would have got it otherwise. Actually, if instructor A hadn't received the dollar, it might have gone to something else, such as self-advising packets or enhanced spending on student recruitment. To deny temporary faculty extra money does not guarantee more for the permanent faculty, as the history of salary trends shows: the recent past indicates loss of ground economically for all faculty.
Actually, it can be argued persuasively that, if temporary faculty are granted better pay and working conditions, the financial situation of the institution as a whole will improve. Remember that 70% of our General Studies credit hours are generated by temporary instructors. Note too that this is the area where we need to make our most gains in retention if we are to sustain enrollment and gain the related fees entering the university general fund, from which we all draw our salaries. The attrition rate for freshmen equals that for all other class years at the university. While not all freshmen should be retained, more could be salvaged. This is not to blame the temporary faculty for this situation. It is complex and requires multi-faceted curricular and personnel approaches. But it does follow that one ingredient for a successful freshman program is a stable, committed and satisfied non-permanent teaching force. Overall, NKU has been very lucky in the quality of temporary faculty that it has obtained. But there is a limit to human endurance, and we are reaching it. Many of our best temporary lecturers and part-time instructors are leaving in pain at their treatment by departments and in despair of ever seeing major improvement in their circumstances. Twenty-five percent of the part-time instructors who responded to the Fall 1998 Association survey were new. This must impact the stability of our freshman program and the quality of our undergraduate instruction. If we continue to abuse our temporary faculty, we shall have a high labor turnover with a concomitant adverse effect on our instructional program and our retention rate. We must pay our temporary faculty a fair salary and give them working conditions which are commensurate with their status as university teachers. Otherwise, our opening message to freshmen is that at NKU they will likely be taught in their vital first year by either new part-time faculty, unfamiliar with our program, or by older temporary faculty, overworked, underpaid, and rushing from job to job, a faculty whose dedication and loyalty are taxed to the limit.
Take as a final example of why the conditions of the temporary faculty matter to all of us, the issue of office space. We know that ability to sit down with a faculty member and discuss academic problems is of vital importance to student retention in the first year. Chances are 70% that, when a student needs to sit down for counseling with a faculty member, that instructor either has no office space or is sharing it with so many colleagues that a serious student conference is out of the question. When the student loses this opportunity for dialogue, we may lose the student, with consequences for all. Thus, we have a financial motive for improving the working environment for our freshmen and their instructors.
Common human decency, never mind professional ethics, would suggest that all faculty should support such simple propositions as this: if some instructors get an annual raise, all instructors should. Plain fellow feeling should imply that, if our colleagues don't have offices or access to normal faculty development funds, we should be concerned and active in seeking solutions. These moral arguments find many takers but, sadly, far from all. Think then of this. As a profession, we resent bitterly the palpable public lack of respect for the professoriate. How in the world do we expect to receive this respect when we ourselves tolerate and thus contribute implicitly to working conditions for 50% of our membership that publicly and openly degrade them and the vital work they do as teaching faculty? If we are truly committed to teaching as our first faculty priority, we must be concerned about the quality of our instructional program and this cannot be divorced from the professional well-being of all those who teach in it. If we think that this is all a matter for administrators to resolve, then we have ceased to be a profession with its inherent commitment to self-regulation; we have become merely employees and we will be treated as such.
-- Michael C.C. Adams
Once again we are calling for members. Come and join our association and support all non-tenure-track faculty. We have made significant progress in bettering the conditions for all non-tenure track faculty, but we have a long way to go.
It's that time of year again
.dues for the '99-'00 academic
year are being collected at this time. Once again, dues are based on
a sliding scale of $1 to $10.00
you give what you are
comfortable contributing. Please fill out the form below and return
it to Steve Wilkinson (ST 338) or Darlene McElfresh (LA 519) to
continue supporting our very worthwhile association. You can also
contribute through the NKU Foundation Fund Drive by allocating a
portion of your donation to our account, # 23470.
Office #________________________ Campus Phone #___________________
E-Mail Address__________________ Amount Contributed_________________
Tenure-Track Faculty____ Tenured Faculty____ Lecturer____ Part-Time Faculty____