The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Non-tenure track faculty: An update on our progress

Last spring, a union drive put the concerns of non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty in the spotlight. Although the union ultimately cancelled the election, the important issues that emerged over the past year have not been neglected. There have been a number of significant developments since the spring and we, members of Macalester’s NTT faculty, would like to keep our community informed about them.

In June, NTT faculty members met with the administration to discuss our concerns and find ways to move forward. The meeting was amicable and optimistic. In addition to submitting a number of immediate action items to the provost, we agreed on two major steps: for the college to conduct an anonymous survey of all faculty to evaluate the working environment and related concerns of NTT faculty members and for the faculty and the administration to officially take up issues relating to NTT concerns.

Macalester’s Office of Institutional Research worked with NTT faculty over the summer to develop the survey, and conducted it in September. President Rosenberg requested that the Resources and Planning Committee (RPC)—the advisory committee on working conditions and long-term financial planning—focus on NTT issues over the fall semester and make recommendations to the appropriate offices and committees. The NTT faculty elected Britt Abel (German studies) and Marianne Milligan (linguistics/environmental studies) to represent the NTT perspective on RPC for the fall semester, and Lynn Hertz (Associate Provost) added her administrative expertise to the mix. Throughout the fall, RPC conducted a study of NTT issues, examining the internal survey results alongside practices at peer institutions. They developed a large and wide-ranging set of proposals to address NTT concerns.

We are pleased that RPC has now published its report, along with the summary results of the survey. The report is a landmark in the journey of NTT faculty at Macalester. It represents an official recognition that NTT faculty are a vital and permanent part of the Macalester community and it addresses a great many of our concerns in a systematic and thoughtful way. Current students and employees can read the full report, which is available on the provost’s website.

The report proposes a new job structure for NTT faculty, which clarifies the teaching, service and research responsibilities of our many diverse positions and gives us a path for long-term career advancement. This structure would extend full benefits to more part-time faculty. It proposes a fix for eligibility rules that have left some of us unable to cast votes on faculty governance issues despite having taught here for decades. It makes several recommendations to improve communication, to expand professional development and to ensure that existing policies designed to help NTT faculty are more widely understood and more consistently implemented. As part of improving communication, it tasks the NTT faculty with encouraging new dialogue within the campus community. This letter is a part of that effort.

Many of the concerns raised during the union debate centered on pay. The administration has independently made significant efforts to improve pay for part-time NTT faculty and to improve pay equity. The RPC report does not propose specific alterations to the pay structure, although it does recommend a periodic salary survey to ensure we are keeping pace with or exceeding salaries at peer institutions.

Furthermore, our hope is that by resolving uncertainty about our job responsibilities and increasing transparency about pay, the report’s proposals would give us a clear lens through which to view and address any ongoing concerns about pay equity. The survey provided one piece of information we especially want the whole community to know: NTT faculty overwhelmingly feel welcomed, valued and respected at Macalester. We face challenges of policy, not of culture. We are in the enviable position of tackling NTT concerns as a united, mutually supportive community—a position which leaves Macalester poised to become a national leader on the issue. We know that many of you reading this letter would like to support us, and are wondering what you can do help. For all of you—students, staff, administration, alumni and our tenured/tenure-track colleagues—we have a simple starting place: talk to us! During the union debate, legal concerns about undue influence prevented a full and open discussion. Those restrictions were lifted when the union canceled the vote, and we are eager to share our diverse experiences and perspectives and to continue the discussion around these issues, since open debate is one of the hallmarks of Macalester and its community.

This RPC report is just the first step. Now its recommendations will move forward through the administration and through various branches of faculty governance for debate. Much work remains ahead for all of us at Macalester. We undertake this work optimistic, confident and grateful that everyone has at heart the same desire to do what is right for our students’ education and for our community.

Co-authored by:

Britt Abel (German studies)
Abby Bajuniemi (Hispanic and Latin American studies)
Susan Bush (biology)
Paul Cantrell (mathematics, statistics, computer science)
Eric W. Carroll (art and art history)
Jerald Dosch (biology and environmental studies)
Ryan Edgington (history)
Dave Ehren (MAX Center)
Dan Flath (mathematics, statistics and computer science)
Annick Fritz-Smead (French and Francophone studies)
Claudia Giannini (Hispanic and Latin American studies)
Susan Green (chemistry)
Michael Griffin (media and cultural studies)
Elizabeth Jansen (biology)
Joy Laine (philosophy)
Julia Manor (psychology)
Sonia Mehta (education studies)
Marianne Milligan (linguistics and environmental studies)
Laura L. Nichols (music)
Vanessa Rousseau (art history and classics)
Leah Sand (Hispanic studies)
Martine Sauret (French and Francophone studies)
Megan Vossler (art and art history)

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