MUFA Proposes Expansion of the Teaching Stream

MUFA Proposes Expansion of the Teaching Stream

In 2007, after a lengthy period of discussion, consultation and policy development, the Teaching Stream was created at McMaster University.  This was in large part intended to replace the practice of annual renewals of long-term Contractually Limited Appointments (CLAs) with permanent positions, acknowledging the important role played by teaching-focused faculty.  At the time, there were 583 faculty in the Tenure Stream and 97 CLAs (14.3% of total faculty) in the five Faculties outside of the Faculty of Health Sciences1.  By agreement between MUFA and the Administration, 51 Teaching Stream positions (8.75% of the Tenure Stream) were created across the five Faculties.  It was agreed and formalized in SPS A9 that future Teaching Stream allocations be made by mutual agreement between MUFA and the Administration.  Many CLAs were converted to the Teaching Stream and a limit of six years was placed on the total duration a CLA could be held by an individual.  Any new Teaching Stream hires would not be by conversion, but only by the usual process of open searches.

Since 2007, the Teaching Stream has expanded as anticipated.  The proportion in the Tenure Stream has modestly decreased and the proportion of CLAs has decreased and now stabilized at ~8% of total faculty, as illustrated below.  Despite the short term intent of the CLA position many appointments still run for a total of six years and some faculty and administrators mistakenly believe that these positions can be converted to Teaching Stream positions.  Over the last 10 years, disturbingly, the number of total faculty (and Tenure Stream faculty) has remained essentially unchanged despite the increase in overall student enrolment by 23%.  Varying growth and contraction amongst the five Faculties means that the initial allocation of Teaching Stream positions is no longer well matched to the Faculty demographics.

MUFA represents2 Tenure Stream faculty, Teaching Stream faculty and CLAs and believes that the University and our members would be better served by a proportional approach to the distribution of faculty appointments.  We believe that it is essential to maintain a minimum proportion of Tenure Stream faculty to maintain the excellence of our research-focused student-centred university.  In this, we are guided by the Report of the Joint Committee Sub-Committee to Review Issues Relating to Contractually Limited Appointments, approved by the Senate and the Board of Governors in 2006, which states:

By recommending the introduction of Teaching Professors we are not recommending that the University gradually move away from regular tenure appointments. There should be some limit placed on the use of non-tenured appointments at the Faculty level. In particular, we recommend that the proportion of tenured and tenure stream faculty within the complement of full-time equivalent faculty should not shrink from current levels.

We strongly support an expansion of the proportion of Teaching Stream faculty from the levels set in 2007, acknowledging their important role in teaching and pedagogy at McMaster.  CLAs, on the other hand, are intended to fill short term teaching needs.  Their defining characteristic – precarity – runs counter to a university committed to the aspirational values of Forward with Integrity.  We proposed in 2012 and again recently in 2016 a proportional approach to the distribution of faculty appointments, allowing for the (hopeful) growth of the faculty complement.  This would provide the Deans greater flexibility to plan accordingly.

Our proposal would lead to a significant expansion of the Teaching Stream for all five Faculties and also help to stimulate a thoughtful discussion about the diverse roles of that stream in the University following the 2014 Report from the Committee To Review Policies And Procedures Surrounding The Appointment Category Of Teaching-Stream Faculty.  Though both of our proposals in 2012 and 2016 were rejected, MUFA will continue to advocate for an expansion of the Teaching Stream, along with a simple formulaic approach to allocate the proportions of Tenure Stream, Teaching Stream and CLA faculty.


1The Teaching Stream in the Faculty of Health Sciences is not governed by SPS A9 and there is no limit to the number of Teaching Stream faculty.  MUFA has no role in Teaching Stream allocations in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

2Additional teaching is also provided by Sessional Faculty, who are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3906, Unit 2, and as such are not under the purview of MUFA.

Data is from the IRA database, for October 1st of the year shown.