Faculty seeks precise job details

A report suggests changes to specific contracts for “non-regular” MU faculty.
Thursday, August 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:10 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

MU’s Faculty Council will hear a report today that could impact the future work life of all non-regular faculty at the university.

More than half of all faculty members at MU are considered non-regular — in general, those without tenure. MU employs about 1,100 tenured and tenure track faculty and about 1,300 non-regular faculty, according to October 2003 figures from the MU News Bureau.

The report, compiled by the Faculty Council committee, addresses the role of non-regular faculty at MU and their concerns as employees, including job security, financial support and governance.

“This is an issue that has come up on and off over the years,” said Judith Goodman, associate professor of communication science and disorders.

Goodman was a member of the five-member committee assigned to establish the concerns of non-regular faculty. The increase in the number of non-regular faculty in recent years drove the Faculty Council to explore the issue during the 2003-2004 academic year, she said.

One of the issues the committee faced was defining the term “non-regular faculty.”

“Non-regular faculty are not tenurable. They are either temporary or do a subset of the traditional faculty duties. Regular faculty do teaching, research and service. Non-regular faculty usually concentrate on one aspect of that,” said Noel English, senior legal researcher in the Office of the Vice Provost for Minority Affairs, International Programs and Faculty Development.

Research, clinical and professional practice professors are included in non-regular faculty, said English, who assists departments in the faculty hiring process. This seems simple enough, but the fact that a clinical professor in one department may have very different responsibilities than a clinical professor in another department created a challenge in defining the roles of non-regular faculty, Goodman said.

Recommendations from the review committee include streamlining job titles and improving job security by writing more specific terms in contracts.

The report also offers a suggestion to offer a separate tenure process to non-regular faculty, called “professional tenure.”

The Faculty Council — elected representatives for the MU faculty — is not scheduled to take action on the report in today’s meeting.

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