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Members of Faculty Senate vote on a issue during their Jan. 9 meeting. (FILE)

Faculty Senate’s sense-of-the-senate resolution addresses the erosion of tenure

In response to a national conversation about a reduction in tenured faculty, Ohio University's faculty senators are asking colleges to seek ways to hire more tenure-track faculty.

The Promotion and Tenure and the Professional Relations committees are asking Faculty Senate to start a conversation about the employee hour ratios of tenured and non-tenured faculty. At the November meeting, the committees presented a joint committee, sense-of-the-senate resolution. 

"We’ve had a lot of comments from faculty that tenure is being eroded because of the response to budget cuts," Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said. "The university has been hiring more and more faculty in Group II positions who don’t have tenure and who don’t have job protection."

The resolution seeks to “develop pathways” to tenure for faculty members who are hired with primarily teaching responsibilities. 

Group I faculty, who are tenured or tenure-track, are most often hired with a 40-40-20 ratio, meaning they spend 40 percent of their time teaching, 40 percent doing research and 20 percent doing service. 

Group II lecturers are typically hired with about 85 percent teaching responsibility and 15 percent service responsibility. Group II faculty do not have the same level of academic freedom, McLaughlin said, and can’t participate in shared governance. 

“The (Faculty) Handbook … doesn’t state what a Group I faculty could be, what a tenure faculty track line should be. Most departments hire a very balanced (teaching-research-service) score of 40-40-20, but that’s not required,” Professional Relations Committee Chair Sarah Wyatt said. “There’s really no reason not to think of that more and really use that possibility. It benefits everyone.” 

One of the goals of the resolution is to raise the question of why some colleges and departments do not differentiate Group I faculty with workload percentages while others do. 

“What tends to happen now is the department will go to the dean and say we need another faculty member or we want to hire a tenure-track faculty member and the dean will say ‘No, I can’t do that, I need to hire somebody who is going to teach more,’ — so they hire Group II. They hire someone non-tenure,” McLaughlin said. 

The resolution encourages colleges to consider hiring more tenure-track faculty to fill some of the positions they regularly fill with non-tenure track hires. Hiring non-tenure track faculty signals a shift in priorities away from research, said Sherrie Gradin, chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee.

McLaughlin said the resolution may be controversial because faculty fear that it could “cut into” hiring people who do research — however, he said there is still pressure on deans to hire tenured faculty who do research. 

At November’s Faculty Senate meeting, Board of Trustees Chair Janetta King said there is an unwavering support and commitment at the administrative level for Group I faculty and tenure. 

Deans tend to hire Group II faculty because they spend more time teaching, McLaughlin said. The sense-of-the-senate resolution encourages deans to hire people in a tenured positions who teach more. 

“We are encouraging people to create ways to hire (tenure or tenure track) faculty who are hired into positions that are primarily teaching responsibilities, maybe like 60-20-20 (ratios),” Wyatt said.


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