Report of the Joint Committee Sub-Committee to Review Issues Relating to Contractually Limited Appointments

Report of the Joint Committee Sub-Committee to Review Issues Relating to Contractually Limited Appointments

Endorsed by the Joint Committee – December 5, 2005
Recommendations Approved by Senate – February 8, 2006
Recommendations Approved by Board of Governors – February 16, 2006


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Background

In Dec. 2003, the Joint Committee passed a motion to appoint a sub-committee of six, three appointed by the Administration and three by MUFA, to conduct a thorough review of the policy with respect to contractually limited appointments (CLAs). The terms of reference are as follows:

The committee’s consideration will include, but not be limited to:

1. The use of short-term, less than 12 month appointments, and the implications for the University community, and for those holding such appointments;

2. The rights and responsibilities of long-term CLAs, and the implications for the University community and for those holding such appointments;

3. The nature of renewals and reappointments of CLAs, including those appointments which go beyond the six years stipulated in the Tenure & Promotion policy;

4. The application of the negotiated CP/M scheme to CLAs;

5. The access of CLAs to the professional development allowance and other negotiated benefits;

6. The teaching, service and research expectations facing CLAs, as articulated in letters of appointment.

7. The use of CLAs to support new Programmes, and the question of their continued use once Programmes are established;

8. Whether CLA positions should be used to provide for those who may wish to specialize in university teaching and teaching-related research, and, if so, how such positions should be defined.

The committee was to report back in March, 2004. Once the committee was established it became clear that the time would not allow a report that would deal with all these issues. We decided to separate the tasks of the Committee and first deal with the issue of very short term contractually limited appointments. That report dealt with items 1, 4, 5, 6, and some aspects of 3 and was accepted by the Joint Committee and subsequently by Senate in 2004. The issue of long term CLAs and the related issue of the specialization of individuals in teaching remained and is addressed in this report.

Teaching Appointments in Canada and the US

The use of non-tenured faculty members who concentrate on teaching appears to be growing throughout North America. While we have not found consistent data series covering a wide range of universities to support this opinion, there is anecdotal and fragmentary evidence to this effect. We have reviewed confidential data for a few recent years for the so-called G10 (Group of 10 research intensive Universities) and, although definitions are not exactly comparable across the universities, growth in non-tenured faculty appears among this group as well.

One notable point that came out of our reviewing the data from research intensive Canadian Universities is that Ontario universities appear to use this category of appointment considerably more frequently than research universities in other parts of Canada. This is no doubt a response to the underfunding of Ontario universities in recent years.

Within Ontario there is a wide variety of approaches to long-term contractually limited appointments. At Carleton, for instance, Instructors have a confirmation process very much like a Tenure process. At Toronto, full-time Lecturers and Senior Lecturers begin with 5 year appointments and Lecturers can stay a maximum of 5 years unless promoted to a Senior Lecturer after which they have annual reviews much like faculty. Waterloo has continuing lecturer appointments, York has alternate stream appointments, while Western has rolling two year appointments that take effect after 5 years (anyone continuing must have a rolling appointment).

We reviewed also the use of contractually limited appointments in the various departments at McMaster University. All Faculties make use of CLAs with the percentages (of all full-time appointments) ranging from just over 10% to just under 30% across the Faculties. CLAs with appointments longer than 6 years can also be found in all Faculties at McMaster. The largest user of such appointments is the Nursing programme where the number of alternate sources of funding and the nature of the programme (joint with colleges) differ from most other programmes on campus.

The McMaster Situation

We recognize that there are problems both from the University Administration point of view and from the employee point of view with the current situation. Given a long- term need for faculty specializing in teaching, it is unproductive from the University’s perspective to terminate contracts of successful teachers and hire anew every 6 years in order to live up to the terms of the current policy governing such appointments. From the point of view of the employee, it is risky and potentially unrewarding to choose such a career path in the first place, but having chosen such a path and successfully meeting expectations, it is discouraging to have to move on to other employers at the 6 year mark to satisfy the current policy. The teacher can hardly be expected to devote his or herself primarily to the teaching task when the need to enhance the CV to be able to land the next position is so pressing. In short, McMaster cannot expect to get the best teachers nor expect to have them devote themselves exclusively to the task under the current situation. It is within this context that we frame the proposals that follow.

Our intent with the proposals we make here is to create opportunities for individuals who want to devote themselves primarily to teaching within an academic environment. We are proposing conditions that will allow such individuals to commit themselves to the task, in the context of a secure and continuous position. Teaching will be the primary expectation of these positions. However, while there will be no requirement to engage in research we would propose to encourage those teachers who have the interest to enhance their classroom teaching and broaden the scope of their educational activity by engaging in such scholarly activities as curriculum development and evaluation, mentoring, research into the efficacy of different pedagogical approaches, etc. Such activity, when evaluated, could be considered towards academic advancement.

Before turning to the recommendations, however, we thought it prudent to comment on a matter that we have debated and will likely be the subject for further debate around these proposals. To some it seems contradictory that positions primarily dedicated to teaching should be created in a research-intensive university. However, for a typical faculty member in a conventional tenure-stream position who is teaching an introductory or other non-specialized course (the kinds of courses most likely to be delivered by the proposed teaching faculty), it is not possible to keep abreast of the full range of research activities that could be of relevance to the course or pique the interest of students in the course. Instead, such an individual would naturally keep abreast of developments in her/his discipline, and consult with colleagues who do have the specific research expertise. We expect that a colleague in a primarily-teaching position would view his or her professional obligations in a similar light, and that the departmental culture would embrace and facilitate these essential interactions among all of its faculty. There is a reciprocal expectation: primarily-teaching faculty with an expertise that transcends merely the content of specific courses (for example, curriculum development across a programme, or new approaches to pedagogy) should be welcomed and expected to share this expertise with all of their colleagues. This collegial interaction among faculty with different kinds and degrees of expertise in research and teaching is at the heart of this proposed policy.

Specific Recommendations

1. There should be a new class of faculty appointment at McMaster, the Teaching Professor, with ranks of: Assistant Teaching Professor, Associate Teaching Professor and Teaching Professor.

2. Appointments to this class will parallel the regular tenure stream appointments with initial appointments normally being of 3 years duration. A search process parallel to the search for a tenured appointment should be followed by appropriate advertising (as outlined in SPS 1), proper references and formal interviews. Should an appointment be renewed at year 3, and the appointment last until year 6, a pedagogical assessment or confirmation akin to a tenure assessment will take place in year 6,

3. The assessment will be by an amended Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee upon recommendation from the department or programme. The composition of the committee would need to be reviewed but one change we would recommend is that the Dean of Graduate Studies be replaced by the AVP Academic. The evaluation would seek to determine whether the candidate had demonstrated effective undergraduate teaching and development as an educational professional. It would differ from the tenure assessment in that it would not require external evaluations (though either the candidate or the Administration could seek these out where it seems appropriate). Evidence in such assessments may include: student and peer evaluation of classroom performance, review of classroom materials, demonstrated student learning, instructional innovation, presentations and participation at conferences and workshops relevant to teaching, publications dealing with teaching, mentoring of others involved in teaching, and participation in grants funding the scholarship of teaching. The Faculty Committee would make recommendations to the Senate Appointments Committee and from there decisions would go to Senate. An appeals procedure parallel to the tenure appeal would be available to candidates denied a continuing appointment.

4. Candidates from the Assistant Teaching Professor rank receiving confirmation may be proposed for, but would not necessarily receive, promotion to Associate Teaching Professor. There may be appointments to this category, especially in professional schools, where the appropriate career rank is Assistant Teaching Professor. Promotion may be sought in any subsequent year as appropriate.

5. Promotion to Associate Teaching Professor should require at least one referee external to the department or programme in which the individual is employed. Parallel to the procedure for obtaining referees for promotion to Associate Professor (see SPS 12), a list of potential referees should be prepared. Referees could be external to the University or from within the University and may include experts from the Centre for Leadership in Learning (CLL). The criteria considered in promotion in addition to the contribution of the individual as an effective teaching member of the University should include evidence of external (to the department) recognition, contributions to curriculum development beyond the individual course level, and presentations and scholarship on teaching or pedagogy. Individual Faculties would be encouraged to develop their own more detailed guidelines.

6. Promotion to Teaching Professor from Associate Teaching Professor would be possible though we expect it would not be the norm. Promotion to Teaching Professor would require evidence of a national or international teaching reputation. Evidence could include significant external teaching awards, peer reviewed scholarship on teaching, and delivery of conference papers on pedagogy. Supporting letters from at least three referees external to the University would be required.

7. Subsequent to the academic assessment referred to in recommendation # 3 above the successful candidate would have a continuing appointment in the same sense that staff positions are continuing. Such Faculty would be protected in terms of academic freedom by the University Statement on Academic Freedom (SPS 25).

8. The contracts are viewed as primarily pedagogical in nature. They would normally involve teaching and administration with the expectation of continuing development as an educational professional. Faculties and individuals could agree to substitute some teaching for a research commitment either on an on-going basis or for a particular period of time. Any negotiated research commitments are expected to be substantially different from the research commitments of a tenured faculty member. These positions are not meant to be an alternative way of receiving an almost regular faculty appointment. The intention is that these appointments would be primarily for teaching purposes.

9. 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.

10. Termination of a teaching contract is at the discretion of the University (including for reasons such as a lack of continuing funding), except that an individual may not be terminated if the position or one substantially the same will continue to be needed by the Faculty (or the University) and the individual continues to perform his or her duties in a satisfactory manner.

11. Individuals who are already here 6 or more years should be considered under the confirmation process to be converted to the Teaching Professoriate at the end of their current contract, or sooner if by mutual agreement. If they are not confirmed, they should be allowed to continue in their appointments under the same regulations that currently prevail. They could request reconsideration on their confirmation as a Teaching Professor by their department every three years.

12. The appointments of individuals who are at McMaster less than 6 years on contractually limited appointments should have their appointments reviewed by the Dean to determine whether they should be moved into a pre-confirmation Teaching Professor appointment. Those who are moved into this category should then follow the confirmation route outlined in points 2 and 3 above.

13. If this proposal is accepted, a drafting committee should be struck to bring forth amendments to the current tenure document (the “Yellow Document”) to incorporate these recommendations.

Concluding Remarks

We end this report by returning to the questions we were directed to answer and give brief answers to each.

1. The use of short-term, less than 12 month appointments, and the implications for the University community, and for those holding such appointments;
Answered in our first report. This regular use of very short-term CLAs has ceased.

2. The rights and responsibilities of long-term CLAs, and the implications for the University community and for those holding such appointments;
Long-term CLAs should expect the same sort of job security as other long-term employees at McMaster.

3. The nature of renewals and reappointments of CLAs, including those appointments which go beyond the six years stipulated in the Tenure & Promotion policy;
We are recommending a confirmation process akin to tenure for CLAs. Only CLAs that are confirmed will be able to stay longer than 6 years.

4. The application of the negotiated CP/M scheme to CLAs;
As answered in our first report, long-term CLAs are part of the CP/M scheme.

5. The access of CLAs to the professional development allowance and other negotiated benefits;
As answered in our first report, long-term CLAs are part of the CP/M scheme.

6. The teaching, service and research expectations facing CLAs, as articulated in letters of appointment.
These must be explicit at the time of appointment. The new class of appointments proposed would not have any discipline-based research expectations. Educational research/evaluation is, however, encouraged.

7. The use of CLAs to support new Programmes, and the question of their continued use once Programmes are established;
We do not recommend long-term CLAs be used for this purpose. Rather, they should be used where teaching is the main need.

8. Whether CLA positions should be used to provide for those who may wish to specialize in university teaching and teaching-related research, and, if so, how such positions should be defined.
Yes, we recommend such specialized appointments. Normal teaching load is to be defined as double the normal faculty teaching load (taking account of both graduate and undergraduate responsibilities of regular tenure stream faculty. Faculties should develop their own guidelines to clarify what this means in their contexts.

Appendix A:

The Sub-Committee to Review Issues Relating to Contractually Limited Appointments:

Prakash Abad
Susan Denburg
Donald Goellnicht
Marilyn Parsons
Leslie Robb
Peter Sutherland

Appendix B:

Documents and Information Reviewed:

We reviewed many documents and policies from various sources. Here is a listing of some key ones:

American Association of University Professors. (2003, November 9). Policy Statement: Contingent Appointments of the Academic Profession. Retrieved December 23, 2003, from http://www.aaup.org/statements/SpchState/contingent.htm

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (2000, November). Policy Statement on Fairness for Contract Academic Staff. Retrieved January 10, 2004, from http://www.caut.ca/en/policies/fair_contractstaff.asp

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (2002, July). Access to a Career Path for Contract Academic Staff. Retrieved January 21, 2005, from http://www.caut.ca/en/publications/bargaining/july2002accesscareerpath.pdf

Fogg, Piper. (2004, April 16). For these professors, practice is perfect. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 15, 2004, from http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v50/i32/32a01201.htm

Grassick, P. (2002, May). A few thoughts about sessionals. CAUT Bulletin Online. Retrieved January 10, 2004, from http://www.caut.ca/en/bulletin/issues/2002_may/commentary/sessionals.asp

University of Guelph. (2004). The Professoriate for the 21st Century. Discussion Paper 1. Retrieved January 21, 2005, from http://www.uoguelph.ca/info/professoriate.shtml

Policies or excerpts of Policies relating to contractually limited appointments from:

  • University of Alberta University of Western Ontario
  • University of Waterloo University of Toronto
  • University of Manitoba York University
  • Indiana University Queen’s University
  • University of Guelph Simon Fraser University

Special tabulations provided by McMaster’s Office of Analysis and Budgeting on tenured and non-tenured faculty at G10 universities