Reflecting the rising number of nontenure line faculty (NLF) teaching at institutions of higher education across the nation, in 2011 the composition of Texas State University’s faculty reached the point where NLF outnumber tenure line faculty, and this proportional shift continues. At Texas State, NLF include lecturers, senior lecturers, clinical faculty, professors of practice, research faculty, emeriti faculty, and faculty who are hired per course. In the past three years, the number of NLF has been 50% or more of the total Texas State faculty. Another growing trend is that the number of full-time NLF now exceeds the number of part-time NLF.
Since that turning point in 2011, the Faculty Senate has undertaken a number of initiatives to empower our nontenure line faculty. Faculty Senate representatives have given well-received presentations on Texas State’s NLF support initiatives to the AAUP 2015 national conference and to this past spring’s Texas Council of Faculty Senates meeting.
The first of these efforts was to constitute the Nontenure Line Faculty Committee (NLFC), establishing a communication network and discussion forum for this faculty constituency with a direct line to the Faculty Senate. The NLFC comprises two representatives from each college, with liaisons from each department/school not represented by a member, with the Faculty Senate vice-chair heading the committee.
The NLFC has proven to be a highly productive and hardworking committee. Endeavors include:
The Faculty Senate recognizes the central importance of both teaching and scholarship to the university’s mission to become a National Research University while continuing to improve our high quality undergraduate and graduate programs. Faculty must be allowed the time necessary to increase research output to reach NRU requirements and achieving this goal will require nontenure line faculty who have proven their dedication to teaching excellence. In the economic and political climate in which we presently, and in the foreseeable future will operate, both types of faculty are crucial to achieving our goals and fulfilling our mission. Department/school, college, and university service is also fundamental to a well-functioning university and a high profile faculty role in the university’s shared governance structure is that of faculty senator.
Nontenure line faculty with 50% or more appointments vote in Faculty Senate elections, but are not presently eligible to serve as senators or senate liaisons. The Faculty Senate recognizes the complex issues that led to the inclusion of this limitation in the Faculty Constitution—primarily that without the assurance tenure provides, senators might risk their appointments if they are compelled to oppose issues favored by personnel committee members, department chairs or other administrators. Countering this consideration is the principle that faculty voters should be able to to elect senate members who they feel will best represent and speak for the faculty to the administration, regardless of appointment classification.
Due in part to our highly positive experience with the NLFC, and after long consideration and discussion, the Faculty Senate has come to hold that serving on the senate should be open to all full-time faculty with six years or more of Texas State service. This stand acknowledges the earned right of full-time faculty to participate in university governance and to contribute to university service at the highest level, and a faculty member’s ability to decide if standing for election to the senate is right for her or himself.
Although academic governance assemblies at peer institutions (e.g. UT Austin and TX A&M) include nontenure line faculty, we would be the first TSUS institution to do so. As the composition and assigned duties of faculty evolve, we feel that membership in the Texas State University Faculty Senate should reflect these changes. By broadening the eligibility for senate membership to be more inclusive, we seek to enfranchise all full-time faculty to serve on the senate and believe that with this change the senate will better serve the entire faculty. We therefore propose the following amendment to the Faculty Constitution.
Members of the Faculty Senate are faculty voters, exclusive of departmental chairs and other quasi-administrators as determined by the Faculty Senate, who have six or more years of full-time appointment at Texas State, including the three years prior to the election cycle.
Current Faculty Constitution Criteria
Members of the Faculty Senate are faculty voters, exclusive of departmental chairs and other quasi-administrators as determined by the Faculty Senate, who have:
* the rank of assistant professor or higher,
* have tenure,
* are paid at a rate of one hundred percent from funds budgeted for faculty salaries, and
* have at least three years of full-time service at this University.
An amendment to the Faculty Constitution is ratified when, by means of a secret ballot, at least two-fifths of the faculty voters cast ballots and two-thirds of those casting ballots vote in favor of the proposal. Voting will be conducted online November 9-16. Specific voting instructions will be disseminated when finalized.
The senate will hold faculty open forums for open comment and to discuss concerns about the proposed change to senate eligibility.
Senators are also available to attend department and school meetings to gather input and to help answer questions about the referendum. Please contact the Faculty Senate office to make arrangements for a meeting visit.