Teach-in looks to highlight faculty tenure issues

March 30, 2015

April Wefler
[email protected]

Faculty throughout the nation participated in the Feb. 25 National Adjunct Faculty Walk-Out Day to protest the salary difference between tenure and non-tenure professors.

Instead of a walk-out, UCCS hosted a Teach-in.

“The purpose of that was to raise awareness of the role that non-contingent, non-tenure track faculty of different types play in the university,” said Mary Coussons-Read, provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

She said that the relationship between the two types at UCCS is civil.

“Here, non-tenure track faculty are really seen as partners with our tenure-track faculty in a way that I think is really exciting,” Coussons-Read said.

Lesley Ginsberg, English department chair, explained non-tenure elements at UCCS.

“Those faculty do get a salary and they do have benefits, so they’re not paid on a course-by-course basis. However, their salaries are low,” Ginsberg said.

“Salaries tend to be pegged to what people think the market will bear. Our salaries in LAS are very low. They’re too low,” she said.

Coussons-Read said tenure-track faculty tends to have higher salaries across the board.

“There’s a real push to bring our non-tenure track faculty salaries up to where the national averages are,” Coussons-Read said. “I’m supportive of everybody having salaries that are where they should be according to our peer institutions and … where the norms are.”

In order to achieve tenure track, professors must demonstrate that they are a good teacher and researcher.

Although professors need to have a Ph.D. to be considered for tenure-track, a Ph.D. does not automatically mean tenure.

Once a professor is on tenure track, along with the merit review all professors face every year, the tenure track candidate also has a first-year review in which senior faculty review his or her teaching and research and provide feedback.

In the fourth year of tenure-track, there is a comprehensive review.

State funding affects tenure track issues. Colorado is ranked 48th nationally for university state funding.

“What is being shown is that many other states contribute a significantly larger portion of the tuition costs per student than our state,” Ginsberg said.

For instance, Illinois contributes over $11,000 per student.

“The change of attitude has real effects in funding. We now think of a college education as a private good, so we think, ‘well, it benefits the individual, so why should we pay taxes to support a public education system?’” Ginsberg said.

The difference in salary for tenure and non-tenure will not lessen anytime soon, said Coussons-Read.

“Because of the different responsibilities [of tenure and non-tenure], it’s not likely that we’re going to begin to reach a point to where those salaries are equal,” Coussons-Read said.

Ginsberg thinks the non-tenure track faculty plays an important role at UCCS.

“Our non-tenure track faculty are superlative. They are excellent teachers,” Ginsberg said.