Chair Talk 3.24

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chair Talk 3.24             

Choosing the Career Track


Many of you are aware of recent discussions around the use of Nontenure Track faculty (“NTT”) as the overall descriptor for those faculty in positions that are not tenurable –  Instructors, Lecturers, and all ranks of Professor of Practice, Research Professor, Clinical Professor, and Professor, NTE (meaning, Nontenure-eligible). A Faculty Senate working group has been meeting with various groups on campus – business officers, Deans, and Heads and Directors, among others – to gauge the collective appetite for a change from the existing terminology, and found broad readiness to move from “NTT” to language that defines this group of faculty in a way that emphasizes what they are rather than what they are not. 

What term might we use in lieu of ‘Nontenure’? The working group examined faculty handbooks and websites of a number of our ABOR peers. The University of Florida, UT-Austin, Texas A&M, and Illinois Urbana-Champaign use NTT.  Penn State, Ohio State, UNC-Chapel Hill, Michigan State, and Minnesota-Twin Cities have adopted “Fixed Term” (or some version thereof), choosing to focus on contract status.  The rest are a patchwork: Maryland-College Park uses “Professional Track”; at UC Davis, they have a “Professor Series” plus Lecturers; University of Iowa has “Instructional Faculty”; and Wisconsin-Madison has “Academic Staff.” 

Here at the UA, the term that is finding the the most support is “Career Track”, which previous Chair Talks already introduced as a viable possibility. Other suggestions, including Professional Faculty, Specialist Faculty, and Teaching, Research, and Clinical Faculty (TRC) were also discussed. 

We have made, over the last few years, a number of changes in UHAP intended to clarify career ladders and promotion processes for faculty not on the tenure track. We have voted to change the Faculty Constitution and Bylaws to further enfranchise this group of faculty. Nomenclature may not have the same urgency, but given the long-term commitment many of these faculty make to our students, scholarship, and outreach endeavors, we can, and should, adopt a better term.  Career Track appropriately signifies that for many of our colleagues, their job is exactly the one they want – it is their career. While it is not a perfect descriptor of all faculty in this category, it seems about as good as one can get.  Our task once we get past finding the right name is to make sure that all faculty are treated with respect, and given a voice in the institution.


Before moving ahead with this change we would like to ask faculty, on both the tenure track and the (putative) career track to express their views.  The link below will take you to a short Qualtrics poll that will do this.


Let’s take this next step towards doing the right thing.


Lynn Nadel, Chair of the Faculty
Michael Brewer, Vice Chair of the Faculty
Mika Galilee-Belfer, Co-Chair, SPBAC