The Joint Committee, Tenure Modifications and Personnel and Affirmative Action, convened to discuss the proposed revisions to the Bylaws of the New York University Libraries Faculty Handbook. The revisions centered around the creation of a new non-tenure track faculty position. Currently, there are no long-term, non-tenured faculty positions in the library. A three-year appointment as a Library Associate is a position currently offered to potential tenure-track candidates who lack the necessary double degree to qualify for a tenure-track position. The rationale for creation of a non-tenure track appears to be two-fold: 1] the need to hire librarians for limited durations, and 2] the need to hire librarians whose duties will have limited scope. It has been pointed out that every other school of the University has such non-tenure track positions.
Recommendation by the Joint Committee
While the committee members acknowledged the trend in hiring non-tenure track faculty personnel and conceded that overall this proposal should be approved, certain objections were raised to specific aspects of the revision that need explanation.
The Provost sent a response to the FSC addressing these questions.
The Personnel and Affirmative Action and Tenure Modifications Committees reviewed this document and recommended approval of the proposal to allow assistant professors on non-tenure tracks who are not promoted at the end of ten years to remain employed.
The Personnel and Affirmative Action and Tenure Modifications Committees reviewed the draft of the Electronic Communications and Social Media Policy and found it problematic in numerous respects. Their recommendations and main areas of concern were sent to the administration following the February FSC meeting. Read recommendation
The Tenure Modifications Committee and PAAC reviewed this document, which incorporates the establishment of a full-time non-tenure track for librarians and sent their recommendations to members of the University and School of Medicine administration. A response addressing their recommendations was sent by the Provost office and the Council sent a follow-up response in December. The Provost office sent a final response on December 17.
In October 2010, President John Sexton asked the Faculty Senators Council to make a recommendation regarding the participation of non-tenure track full-time faculty (NTTF) in university governance. While NTTF, often referred to as clinical or contract faculty, participate in governance to varying degrees within departments and schools, NYU’s by-laws grant university-level representation to tenure and tenure-track faculty (TTF) only. The electorate and the members of Faculty Senators Council is comprised only of tenure and tenure-track faculty.
To undertake its review of the issue, the FSC and its Personnel and Affirmative Action first requested new, detailed data on the number and distribution of NTTF and TTF for the past decade. The data was provided by the administration in May 2011. It offers a reasonably comprehensive picture of the absolute and relative size of NTTF and TTF for the university as a whole and for each school, as well as general trends in the number and allocation of faculty lines.
This was not the first time the FSC had turned its attention to the issue. In 2007-8, the FSC prepared a report: Non-Tenure Track Faculty at NYU, which offers a comprehensive review of the roles and responsibilities of NTTF across NYU’s schools, with particular attention to their participation in governance. Its main finding is that the nature and level of NTTF participation in governance including, for example, voting rights and committee membership, varies substantially from school to school across NYU, and from department to department within each school. The 2008 report led to three broad recommendations: first, that with respect to the role of NTTF as members of the NYU academic community, greater attention should be given to the appointment and renewal procedures of NTTF and to their rights and privileges under academic freedom; second, that each individual school clarify the role of non-tenure track faculty in its own governance procedures; third, that in accordance with existing NYU by-laws only tenure and tenure-track faculty should serve as University Senators.
The 2008 recommendations reflected two perspectives that have animated FSC’s review of the issue. First and foremost, FSC remains deeply concerned about the erosion of tenure as a general, long-term trend at American universities. FSC has never wavered from the view that a robust tenure and tenure-track faculty is vital to the university’s academic mission. At the same time, FSC commitment to tenure as a core principle of academic life does not preclude it from recognizing the integral contribution made by non-tenure track faculty to the university’s academic endeavors. The two perspectives – a commitment to tenure as a core principle and an abiding respect for our non-tenure track faculty colleagues – go hand in hand.
The immediate question before FSC concerned NTTF participation in university governance. At its January 2012 meeting, FSC voted overwhelmingly to endorse the principle that NTTF should have representation in university governance, a recommendation that requires a change in the University’s by-laws to be implemented. The FSC then turned its attention to the form this representation might take. We considered two basic options: membership on the FSC or the establishment of a separate NTTF Council. Of the two, FSC concluded that a separate NTTF Council offers the best foundation for meaningful participation in university governance, providing the NTTF with greater latitude to establish and pursue an agenda framed around their particular needs and interests.FSC imagines that the two councils would cooperate on a number of standing university issues, with the likelihood of joint committees and other forms of ongoing collaboration.
FSC’s recommendations are not the last word on the issue. In the first instance, they are premised on the assumption that NTTF would welcome such participation; we certainly do not presume to be speaking on their behalf. We are also aware that these recommendations will now be reviewed by the University Senate, first by committee and then by the Senate as a whole. FSC members will play an important role in those conversations where many of the details are still to be worked out.