Tenure trickle-down effect
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 16:04
Big changes are in store for N.C. Central University next year.
All non-tenure track professors have been taken off the fall 2012 registration list, which could have an adverse effect on the University at large.
In the English department alone, 57 course sections do not have a designated professor for fall 2012.
“I have had several students email me frantically about being in my class but I can’t tell them anything because I don’t know,” said English instructor Anne McCarthy.
The decision affects all contingent professors — short-term employees with contracts lasting one or three years — because they are not guaranteed jobs, especially if classes do not reach capacity.
“Because of the economy we have to make some adjustments,” said Melvin Carver, chair of the art department. “The best thing for us to do is to get the right political people to get those things turned around.”
If more classes are added to accommodate students, the University may hire graduate students or contingent professors to teach them.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching because that would be too much on my plate,” said NCCU genomics graduate Felecia Leslie, who added that she likes teaching labs because it’s good experience and if students can’t reach her they can go to the course instructor.
The graduate student and contingent professor teaching model has become a more common model in these times of economic hardship because colleges and universities are trying to get the most bang for their buck.
According to The New York Times, only 27 percent of current college instructors are full-time professors, as opposed to 75 percent in 1960.
“Colleges have turned into sweatshops when it comes to their own faculty,” said Keith Hoeller, chair of the adjunct faculty committee of the American Association of University Professors in a 2008 interview with The Daily, the student newspaper for the University of Washington.
Hoeller referred to the minimal pay that graduate students and adjuncts receive, which has been estimated to cost up to 80 percent less than hiring full- time professors.
Some believe that the University should turn to grant writing to fund some programs, independent of state-appropriated funds.
“It helps if you have faculty going out and getting grants to pay for grad students and pay more money to adjuncts,” said Pamela Martin, first-year chair of the psychology department.
“The state budget is tight and it’s imperative for HBCUs to go out and get grants,” she said.
One group somewhat overlooked in this changing environment are NCCU students.
The hiring decisions being made now could have profound effect on both current and prospective students.
Students may also run into problems if they register for a class and find out mid-summer that it has been dropped and must find a replacement class.
This situation could cause a major problem for students hoping to graduate that semester.
“In our department we have flexibility and students can take an independent study class to fulfill their requirement and we work it out to the point that our student will not be affected,” said Carver.
Students may also notice an increase in class sizes. For example, next fall the number of students allowed in the required Arts and Humanities courses will jump from 35 to 65.
According to a statement from the Office of Public Relations office provided to the Campus Echo “more that 40 filled faculty positions (including adjunct faculty) were eliminated to support the budget cuts. The loss of these permanent positions will result in an increase in class size could diminish the university's efforts to improve retention efforts and graduation rates.”