"Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future…make a habit of two things—to help, or at least to do no harm."
-- Hippocrates Epidemics, Bk. I, Sect. XI.
"…there is always an easy solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong."
-- H.L. Mencken The Divine Afflatus,' New York Evening Mail, November
In October, 2000, Chancellor James Moeser directed the appointment of the Committee on Faculty Appointment, Promotion and Tenure with the following charge:
The Committee will review practices, procedures, and policies regulating faculty appointment, promotion, and tenure.
The goal of the Committee is to ensure that these practices, procedures, and policies are equitable and consistent with the educational, scholarly, and service mission of the University.
The Committee will consult regularly with the University community in identifying topics for review and in formulating its recommendations. The Committee will review and discuss its findings with the faculty and report its recommendations to the Chancellor.
Paul Farel (Cell and Molecular Physiology) and Barbara Harris (History and Women’s Studies) agreed to co-chair the Committee. The other members were Stephen Birdsall (Geography), Ray Dooley (Dramatic Art), Eugenia Eng (Health Behavior and Health Education, Madeleine Grumet (Education), Charles Jennette (Pathology), Peter Ornstein (Psychology), Kathleen Rounds (Social Work), Sarah Shields (History), Michael Smith (Government), Marilyn Yarbrough (Law), and Lucila Vargas (Journalism/Mass Communication). Together they represented a broad cross-section of disciplines and schools in the University.
The Committee began its work in February 2001 upon the arrival of Provost Robert Shelton. Members of the Committee formed three working groups, each of which focused on a particular aspect of the charge: policies and procedures for non tenure-track faculty (chaired by Paul Farel), policies and procedures for tenure-track faculty (chaired by Stephen Birdsall), and mechanisms for flexibility in the tenure and promotion of tenure-track faculty (chaired by Barbara Harris).
The policies and procedures regulating tenure-track faculty are virtually identical to those in force at the University in 1950. Although generally effective in promoting the mission of the University and protecting the rights and prerogatives of faculty, the rigidity of these policies constrains the development of faculty whose personal situation most differs from their colleagues of 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, a professor, if he had children, typically had a wife who was responsible for maintaining the family. Today, many faculty are single parents or in relationships in which both partners hold full-time positions. Responsibilities, such as care of aging parents, of children, or of a partner, place overwhelming burdens on faculty trying to meet the exacting standards for award of permanent tenure. Recommendations directed at providing the flexibility needed to recruit and retain tenure-stream faculty of the highest quality constitute the first part of this report.
Existing policies and procedures do not provide for the increasing proportion of non tenure-track members of the professoriate. Non tenure-track faculty now hold over 30% of the full-time faculty positions at the University, yet have few of the safeguards that apply to tenure-track faculty. The second part of this report suggests mechanisms to implement recommendations made by the Office of the President of the 16-campus system in the report of the Committee on Non-Tenure Track Faculty. The Board of Governors accepted these recommendations at its March 6, 2002 meeting.
The final section of the report suggests changes in existing policies and procedures relating to tenure-stream faculty. Its recommendations recognize that in most respects existing policies serve the University well in hiring and retaining an excellent faculty. Therefore, its recommendations focus on ensuring that all faculty, regardless of their home unit, are subject to comparable reviews. This section is also responsive to concerns expressed about the manner in which negative decisions at the departmental or school level are handled. The report further recommends that issues related to instructional personnel reside in the Office of the Provost, as they have de facto for many years.
The most sweeping recommendations of this report thus focus on non tenure-track faculty and on the need for flexibility in the evaluative process for tenure-stream faculty. These emphases should in no way imply that the Committee fails to recognize the critical function of tenure. Tenure is indispensable to hiring and retaining outstanding faculty. Such faculty are the wellspring of the University’s exemplary record in serving the people of North Carolina, educating its students, and providing leading scholars to the nation and to the world. The Committee is unanimous in affirming the importance of tenure to the life of the University.
Flexibility in the Process of Tenure and Promotion
Since the 1950s, there have been dramatic changes in the composition of the University faculty. In the mid-twentieth century, most faculty members were men with wives who worked in the home and supported their husbands’ careers by providing the bulk of family and household care. In contrast, the majority of today’s faculty members live with spouses or partners in family settings in which both members of the unit are employed. In addition, a significant minority of faculty members is single. Many of these faculty, female and male, have major caretaking responsibilities for members of their families and households, particularly children and aging or ill parents.
With these demographic changes in mind, the committee considered the appropriateness of our current appointment, promotion, and tenure regulations. More specifically, we focused on whether the regulations as they stand now meet the needs of the faculty and, simultaneously, ensure that the University succeeds in recruiting and retaining the highest quality faculty.
The change in the composition of the faculty raises questions about whether the existing probationary period permits assistant professors to meet the requirements of their academic units for tenure. The problem is particularly acute for those faculty members who assume major responsibility for their children and may not have a partner. A disproportionate number of faculty members in this position are women. Consequently, this situation has a significant impact on the University’s ability to recruit and retain female faculty in numbers commensurate with the numbers of women receiving terminal degrees. According to the Office of Institutional Research, there is a marked difference between the numbers of female full and associate professors in comparison with assistant professors. For example, in September 2001, the percentages of female assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors were 38%, 34%, and 21%, respectively. Notwithstanding these figures, we emphasize that the fundamental issue is not gender per se, but the responsibilities of parenting. The goal of the committee is to address this problem on behalf of both female and male faculty.
In 1995, the University took an important step in addressing the obstacles facing faculty with family responsibilities trying to meet the requirements to achieve tenure when it instituted a policy of allowing faculty members to "stop the tenure clock" for one year for reasons of health, requirements of childbirth or child care, or similar compelling circumstances. This policy is gender blind and applies to natural or adoptive parents. A survey of our peer institutions indicates that most of them now have similar policies in place, although they vary somewhat in detail.
Widespread confusion exists about the "stop the clock policy." It is therefore included verbatim as an appendix to this section. Most importantly, the suspension of the tenure clock is NOT a leave. Rather it was designed for full-time probationary faculty who choose to remain in full-time employment for professional or financial reasons at a time when they face the situations to which it applies. Nor is it designed to deal only with the situation of women with babies and young children.
The committee surveyed all assistant and associate professors currently employed at UNC-CH to evaluate implementation of clock suspension policy. Based on this survey, other information that we collected and our discussions, we have come to believe that the UNC-CH should build even greater flexibility into our regulations about the probationary period for tenure-track faculty.
Although the recommended changes (see below) will have a disproportionately large effect on women, they will also benefit male faculty, many of whom live in dual-wage-earner or single-parent families and play a significant role in child-care. Many male faculty who responded to the survey indicated that the policy would apply to their family situation although many of them did not know it was gender blind. In addition, because one of the major findings of our survey was that many faculty members (55% of the assistant professors and 60% of the associate professors) did not know about the possibility of stopping the tenure clock, we strongly recommend that the University and individual schools make a systematic and concerted effort to inform chairs and faculty about these policies and how they apply to the probationary period.
In contrast to the situation of assistant professors, the large difference between women and men in the full professor rank does not seem to result from the impact of contrasting family responsibilities on female and male associate professors. According to the Office of Institutional Research, there is no statistically significant difference in the length of time it has taken for female associate professors and male associate professors to be promoted in the last five years. In addition, of current associate professors hired as assistant professors, women have been in rank 6.1 years and men, 7.3; of those hired as associate professors, women have been in rank 5.8 years and men 6.7 years. Therefore, it seems that the difference between women and men in the full professor rank primarily reflects hiring patterns of junior faculty a decade or more ago. However, it should be noted that differential hiring at the full professor rank contributes to the perpetuation of these inequities. In 2000-2001, 19.4% of the new faculty hired in Academic Affairs were hired at the full professor level, but only 31% of the newly hired full professors were female. In Health Affairs the comparable figures were 11.9% and 20%. These figures underscore the necessity of the University continuing to enforce vigilantly the policies in place to ensure equal employment hiring.
The Committee believes that the changes recommended below will enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain young faculty in a highly competitive academic market. They also recognize the University’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life of its faculty, incorporating Chancellor Moeser’s conviction that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can and should be both good and great.
From Trustees Policies (1999)
Section 2, Part 2, c. General Provisions
iii. Special provisions for extending the maximum probationary period
The provisions of subsection…(iii) above do not apply to informal temporary
adjustments of the regularly assigned duties of faculty members by the
department chairman who is responsible for their direct supervision; nor
to the granting by the University of extended leaves of absence with or
without compensation. [Amended 2/18/94].
Non Tenure-Track Faculty
The increasing dependence of American colleges and universities on non-tenure-track faculty is well documented. Nationally, from 1987 to 1998 the combined percentages of part- and full-time non-tenure track faculty increased from 41% to 61% of total faculty, with part- and full-time faculty each increasing their proportion of total faculty by about 10%. Dependence on non-tenure track faculty is less at the 16 constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina, as is the rate of increase. From 1990 to 2000, the percentage of part-time non-tenure track faculty increased from 15% to 21% and the percentage of full-time non-tenure track faculty increased from 19% to 23%. Combining these categories shows that non-tenure track faculty constituted 34% of total faculty in 1990 and 43% in 2000.
At UNC-CH, 795 faculty hold full-time fixed-term appointments. 1,787 faculty hold full-time tenured or tenure-track appointments. Non-tenure track faculty thus constitute over 30% of full-time faculty at UNC-CH. Three-quarters of full-time non-tenure track faculty hold appointments in Health Affairs. Slightly more than half (54%) of faculty members holding non-tenure track appointments are female. In addition, approximately 260 non-tenure track faculty hold part-time fixed-term appointments.
The number of full-time non-tenure track faculty increased from 582 to 795 between 1997 and 2001, an increase of 37%. This increase was greater in Health Affairs than in Academic Affairs both relatively (40% versus 26%) and absolutely (175 positions versus 38). In contrast, in this same period, the number of tenure-track faculty was little changed (1785 and 1787 in 1997 and 2001, respectively). Projecting the 8.8% mean annual growth rate of non-tenure track faculty forward, the number of non-tenure track faculty will exceed the number of tenure-track faculty by 2011.
Increasing dependence on non-tenure track faculty can be attributed to the managerial considerations of cost and flexibility. Non-tenure track faculty can be hired at relatively short notice without an extensive search to meet needs as they arise, whether these needs relate to an unexpected surge in enrollment, the award of grants or contracts requiring faculty staffing, or the necessity to provide clinical services.
Each of these needs relates to one of the core values of the University’s mission and thus could legitimately be seen as the professional province of tenure-track faculty. Unlike tenure-track faculty, who are expected to be exemplary scholars as well as teachers and participants in the governance of the University, non-tenure track faculty typically focus on the comparatively narrow range of activities for which they were hired. Consequently, the cost to the institution may appear less for non-tenure track faculty than for tenure-track faculty if one considers only the specific task at hand. However, the work of non-tenure track faculty may have the unintended consequence of adding to the workload of tenure-track faculty. For example, the use of non-tenure track faculty can allow the University to offer more introductory level courses to students. However, these students will eventually require more specialized courses taught by faculty who participate in the scholarship that distinguishes a research university. These students also call upon faculty for counsel and guidance in choosing a major or even a career. Such activities are rarely included in contracts for non-tenure track faculty, even for those non-tenure track faculty having the necessary experience and ability.
The University is deeply reliant on non-tenure track faculty to achieve its mission. Although the need for non-tenure track faculty is undeniable, the necessity to protect both the concept and fact of tenure is no less compelling. Tenure is the source of the freedom and security without which independent thought will wither and die. Unpopular ideas and research first discussed in the academy have often become mainstream with the passage of time and the evidence of study. Without academic freedom to pursue unpopular research agendas, the country would be required to seek answers to pressing problems outside its own institutions. The freedom to pursue scholarly projects whose benefits, both intellectual and economic, may require many years to realize requires the security tenure brings. Most importantly, tenure allows faculty to teach with integrity without fear their courses will be subject to strictures on intellectual freedom.
Concern about these and other issues led Dr. Gretchen Bataille, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs in the Office of the President, to appoint the Committee on Non-Tenure Track Faculty in February 2001, chaired by Dr. Betsy Brown, Vice President for Academic Affairs. The report of this committee was presented to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors on March 6, 2002. The Board approved the report and charged the Office of the President to work with the 16 constituent institutions to implement the recommendations.
Throughout this period, the Chancellor’s Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure was also examining many of these same issues. The Board of Governors’ recommendations paralleled those being formulated by the Task Force. In this report, we take each of the recommendations and suggest strategies for implementation at UNC-CH. In formulating these strategies, the Committee attempted to adhere to the following principles:
Individual hiring units, typically Schools, departments, or divisions, are in the best position to formulate staffing plans that best allow that unit to fulfill its mission. Thus, staffing plans should originate with individual hiring units. These plans will be reviewed by a committee within the School, or if such a committee does not exist, by the proposed new standing committee for non-tenure track faculty.
Recommendation 2: Each campus, whenever possible, should offer multi-year contracts (for three or more years, with eligibility for reappointment) to full-time non-tenure track faculty who have successfully completed a probationary period or otherwise demonstrated their effectiveness and contributions. (See p. 27)
The nature of non-tenure track positions makes them less secure than those in the tenure stream. Funding for these positions may depend on sources such as state appropriations, contracts, grants, or clinical receipts that do not easily lend themselves to long-term planning. Non-tenure track faculty members are hired for their ability to fill positions that are typically narrower in scope than positions designed for tenure-track faculty. The skills that make an individual successful in winning a non-tenure track faculty position may not be those that are most needed if the mission of the hiring unit shifts.
Nonetheless, these uncertainties must be balanced against the need to provide non tenure-track faculty colleagues with as great a sense of security as possible. To accomplish this goal will require compromise. Individual hiring units are in the best position to formulate the policies most consistent with their mission and fiscal situation. For example, units that employ non tenure-track faculty for teaching or service may not be able to offer longer term contracts to all deserving non tenure-track faculty, but very likely can offer three- to five-year contracts to some percentage of those faculty.
For non tenure-track faculty supported by grant or contract funding, the duration of appointment may fluctuate depending on where in the funding cycle reappointment is made. For example, if extramural funding that has two years to run supports a non-tenure track faculty member, the duration of reappointment may be such that the ending date is synchronous with the end of extramural support.
The Task Force also urges that all appointment and reappointment contracts contain provisions relevant to the possibility that funding to cover the entire duration of the contract may not be available due to funding rescissions.
The Task Force recommends that
(B) a definition of assignments and responsibilities that constitute 50%, 75% and 100% loads, with identification of the employee benefits available to non-tenure track faculty employed at 50% or 75% of a full-time load;
(C) a policy determining under what circumstances if any faculty on part-time appointments can be assigned full-time loads;
(D) a policy determining under what circumstances part-time faculty should be issued two-semester continuing contracts with accompanying eligibility for benefits;
(E) a policy for timely notice of appointment or reappointment of part-time faculty.
Policies developed at the unit level will be reviewed and, if adequate, approved by School and University committees.
Recommendation 4: Each campus should develop a set of clearly defined position descriptions and titles for full- and part-time non-tenure track positions. The use of "advanced" titles with appropriate salary increases and other recognition should be considered to appropriately distinguish faculty with longer service records and accomplishments (for example, Senior Lecturer or Research or Clinical Faculty with rank). (See p. 31)
The committee recommends that the rank of senior lecturer be added with appropriate changes to The Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure, section 2 b. (5). Because of the diversity of activities performed by lecturers across Schools, each hiring unit will determine the schedule and criteria by which lecturers will be considered for promotion to the rank of senior lecturer.
Descriptions of the evaluation process and criteria for promotion should be developed by the hiring unit and reviewed by the School or University committee, as appropriate.
The Task Force recommends that promotion of non tenure-track faculty in research or clinical tracks follow the same timeline for review as for tenure-track faculty. If a non tenure-track faculty member is not recommended for promotion, that faculty member can be reappointed at her/his current rank.
Policies developed at the unit level will be reviewed and, if adequate, approved by School and University committees.
Recommendation 6: Each campus should
(B) develop guidelines for the proper compensation, either through stipends or adjusted teaching loads, for advising and administrative activities assigned to non-tenure track faculty;
(C) include non-tenure track faculty as appropriate in decision-making processes at the department, college, and university level, particularly in decisions affecting their own responsibilities and employment conditions. (See p. 34-35)
Many awards are available to both tenure-track and non tenure-track
faculty. The criteria for other awards, particularly those relating to
service, should be examined to ensure the eligibility of non-tenure track
(B) increase compensation where appropriate to ensure the continued employment of qualified, experienced, and professional faculty;
(C) develop policies for the eligibility of full-time non-tenure track faculty for regular salary increases and for increases in part-time faculty stipends, both across-the-board within disciplines and for individual faculty based on experience and performance. (See p. 38)
Individual academic units address a diversity of subjects and are subject to distinct disciplinary and professional traditions, goals, cultures, and standards, yet each academic unit is governed by aspirations for excellence in teaching, scholarship/creative endeavor, and service. This striving for excellence is most clearly embodied in the policies and procedures that regulate the appointment, tenure, and promotion of faculty.
The policies and procedures under which the University currently operates are very similar to those summarized in 1950 by Chancellor Frank Porter Graham in an address to the Faculty Council of the Woman’s College in Greensboro. Despite the absence of substantive modification in the subsequent half century, the Committee believes that, on the whole, these policies and procedures continue to serve the University and its faculty well, nurturing excellence and providing for the fair and equitable treatment of individual faculty members.
The Committee focused on two areas in which the current system should be improved. First, each candidate for promotion and tenure should go through a series of evaluations that is similar throughout the University, regardless of the School in which the initiating department is located. Second, the Committee recommends that negative decisions by a department chair or dean be subject to a second faculty review.