Senate closes out the fall with term faculty teaching report and policy proposals

Meeting coverage

The percentage of instruction being done at Iowa State this fall by term faculty and staff increased from last year. Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert shared the most recent numbers in his report at the Dec. 11 Faculty Senate meeting.

The Faculty Handbook advises that no more than 15 percent of instruction be by term faculty, no more than 25 percent in one department.

Wickert showed three ways of measuring the amount of instruction done by term faculty and staff:

  • Section credits, 35.8 percent
  • Student credit hours, 41.3 percent
  • Course sections, 35.3 percent

Numbers are up from a year ago in section credits (34.8 percent), student credit hours (41 percent) and course sections (33.6 percent).

Based on section credits, 31 of the 56 departments exceeded the 25 percent threshold and the median for the university is 31 percent. Three departments exceeded 50 percent of the section credits taught by term faculty and staff: Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication (65.8 percent), world languages and cultures (56.6) and natural resource ecology and management (55.3).

Using a measurement by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Iowa State’s term faculty appointment percentage sits at 19.2 percent. That is just below the average of ISU's 10 peer institutions (19.5 percent), with the median at 15 percent. Last year, Iowa State’s term faculty percentage was 17.4.

Wickert said instructional full-time equivalents (FTE) were down slightly from years past when looking at distribution of full- and part-time teaching responsibilities among faculty (tenured, tenure-eligible and term), staff and graduate students. The numbers do not include clinical or extension faculty.

"The numbers this year are a little lower than last year, perhaps reflecting increased retirements and resignations, and also slightly lower enrollment this year compared to last year," Wickert said.

Wickert said the numbers need to be watched and discussed, but it is also the reality for universities like Iowa State.

"The rapid increase in enrollment that we have had, the tight budgets we faced, and the growth of the research enterprise on campus, I think, all of those factors come into play to drive some of these numbers," he said.

Bullying and harassment

A pair of proposals addressing bullying were among several agenda items that will be voted on when the senate reconvenes Jan. 22.

First, the governance council is asking for a tweak to the handbook's discrimination and harassment policy (section, adding "bullying" to the language.

"What we are proposing is a very small change -- but perhaps something that has a lot of impact for the Faculty Handbook -- to have everything related to harassing behavior become bullying," said council chair Brett Sponseller.

Second, president-elect Jonathan Sturm introduced a resolution against bullying and intimidation on campus. The resolution calls on faculty to actively work against workplace and educational bullying by:

  • Fostering a zero-tolerance climate
  • Sharing encounters and experiences
  • Building a respectful, empathetic and socially just environment
  • Creating a university policy

"It is a statement of our unity as a faculty behind the kind of behavior that we will accept from ourselves and from our colleagues, and that which we will not tolerate," Sturm said.

The resolution focuses on faculty actions, not student-on-faculty bullying concerns raised during senate discussion.

"This is a start," Sturm said. "Would I like to find some kind of way to create legal language that creates better guidelines and parameters than what we currently have? Absolutely."

Action plan mediation

The senate's faculty development and administrative relations (FDAR) council proposed language for the Faculty Handbook to establish procedures for mediating disputed action plans. An action plan is developed by the department chair and faculty member following an unsatisfactory annual or post-tenure review.

The proposed handbook additions (section outline processes and responsibilities -- for example, roles, timelines, committee selection and outcomes.

"We wanted to put a formal process in place to make it better for the faculty member and to make it better for the administrators," said FDAR member Eliot Winer. "This is just an attempt to get this done in a conciliatory manner with shared governance."

Policy for consistency

To better meet accreditation and review criteria, the academic affairs council proposed Faculty Handbook language that clarifies expectations for consistent learning outcomes across courses, regardless of sections, instructors or delivery (online or in person). The proposed language states that the policy clarification does not limit how faculty teach or assess the course, and faculty can make additions to common core outcomes.

"This change in language seeks to ensure the general and consistent correspondence of a syllabus intent and the actuality of the class," said council chair Andrea Wheeler.

Other business

Senators voted to eliminate a summer option for readmission, currently available to students placed on academic dismissal status following the spring semester. The motion also adds language to the catalog's reinstatement policy:

  • Clarifying that the summer session does not count as a semester for academic dismissal periods
  • Allowing juniors and seniors "with extenuating circumstances" to request a waiver

Senators also approved:

An expected vote was pushed to January for a 36-credit online master's program in event management aimed at event management employees and professionals, international students and alumni. The College of Human Sciences' apparel, events and hospitality management department is waiting on peer response from the University of Northern Iowa, which is reviewing the proposed degree program.