Proposed term faculty changes in handbook draw discussion

At their Feb. 13 meeting, faculty senators heard the first reading of proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook that would clarify and streamline processes for term faculty in position reviews, term renewals and advancement. Each proposed change drew significant discussion.

Credit for previous employment

Lecturer or assistant-rank term faculty may advance to the associate rank after five years of employment at ISU. The five years can be reduced through credit for prior faculty service at other colleges and universities or with relevant professional expertise. Currently, the Faculty Handbook allows previous credit to be discussed at the time of hiring and before a first multiyear contract is negotiated. The proposed change, intended to ensure consistency, would only allow the discussion to take place before the first multiyear contract.

Originally, the proposed change was to limit discussion about previous experience to the time of hire, but an amendment passed that changed the sole opportunity to the first offering of a multiyear contract. Senators argued it gave term faculty more security and sped up the clock for advancement or raises.

Administrative opportunities

Another proposed change would allow colleges and departments to determine if their term faculty may hold administrative roles. Currently, the Faculty Handbook doesn't list administative posts as roles term faculty can fill. While there was discussion for and against term faculty holding these positions, senators ultimately asked that "administrative role" first be defined in the Faculty Handbook so they can make an informed decision. 

Performance evaluations

To ease the review numbers for departments with numerous term faculty, another proposed change to the Faculty Handbook would require that assistant professors be reviewed every three years, term faculty at the associate level or above, every six years. Currently, all term faculty are reviewed after their third year and then every three years. The change would more closely align with the evaluation timeline of five to seven years for tenure-eligible faculty after they receive tenure.

Proposed changes also would clarify that only term research faculty or adjunct faculty with at least 50% research in their position responsibility statement must supply external letters during advancement review. A maximum of three letters can be included. Confusion about this requirement has led some departments to require letters in the advancement reviews for all their term faculty.

Graduate Council added to senate

Senators approved including the Graduate Council in the Faculty Senate's academic affairs council to make it part of the senate. It gives the full senate decision-making authority for all graduate faculty, graduate and professional students ,and postdocs. The Graduate Council is renamed the Graduate Faculty Cabinet to avoid placing a council within a council. New language will be added to the senate bylaws to include the Graduate Faculty Cabinet.

Other business

  • Senators will vote at the next meeting on a resolution that encourages students to take part in the 2024 general election and encourages faculty to not schedule exams or major assignments on Election Day. A proposed amendment, to remove language in the resolution encouraging faculty to hold classes asynchronously when feasible and excuse student absences or tardiness on Election Day, failed.

  • The senate approved University Professor Elisabeth Lonergan (animal science) as chair of the committee that will conduct an administrative review of the office of the president. The committee will complete its work over the next year. Other members are:

    • Dave Cantor, supply chain management

    • Carol Chapelle, English

    • Amanda Fales-Williams, veterinary pathology

    • Meghan Gillette, human development and family studies

    • Patience Lueth, architecture

    • Rick Sanders, ISU Research Park

    • Omar Smadi, civil construction and environmental engineering