Junior Faculty Committee (JFC) Report

 
 

 

JFC AAUP Chairperson: Pamela Lottero-Perdue,

Science Education, Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences

 

 
 

The Junior Faculty Committee (JFC) of the AAUP is a formal committee of the AAUP in that there is a chairperson and formal, organized meetings that junior faculty can attend. Any junior faculty person can effectively be a member of the committee by showing up and participating. The JFC was initiated several years ago when a significant conversation on campus emerged in response to workload issues. Since the resolution of this issue (more or less), the JFC has continued to meet.

 

I see the JFC as a community that fosters critical thinking and problem solving about issues that affect junior faculty. It is the only university-wide group on campus that focuses on such issues. As such, the JFC is a sort of barometer to assess what is on the minds of junior faculty based on what those who attend the JFC meetings share. The more junior faculty who attend the meetings, the more representative of junior faculty at TU the JFC voice can be.

 

This report includes some of the issues that were discussed at the first JFC meeting this semester, which took place on November 19, 2009, the JFC response’s to furloughs, and the pilot, university-wide, voluntary faculty-to-faculty mentoring program the JFC, general AAUP body, and others at TU hope to initiate.

 

Issues/Concerns

 

During the November meeting, we spent time listening to and discussing the issues and concerns of those present. This time to share is an important part of the JFC, and by sharing we are able to see both the common threads and then disparities among the departments and colleges at TU. While likely many of these issues are not new, the point is not to suggest novelty, but rather to stress that they remain ongoing and important issues for the JFC, the AAUP, and the TU community to work to address or resolve. Meeting notes that document the entirety of issues discussed at the meeting are available upon request (plottero@towson.edu). What follows are some of the main points of importance:

 

Junior faculty members* are:

  • concerned that the multitude of negative economic impacts upon faculty (e.g., lack of pay raises/COLA, compression which they expect to experience or already have experienced, non-competitive salaries when compared to peer institutions, furloughs) will cause them or their colleagues to consider leaving the institution.
  • frustrated by mixed messages that they have received from different voices at TU, as well as over time, regarding expectations for promotion and tenure and an appropriate balance of teaching and research.
  • concerned about aspects of their work that take considerable time (e.g., supervision of doctoral students, advising, large enrollment in sections), yet may not count or will count very little towards P&T decisions.

 

* Note: By “junior faculty members” I do not mean to refer to all junior faculty members, but to some, as represented in the JFC meeting.

 

 

Response to Furloughs

 

Our response to furloughs is, in essence, the same as the response that the AAUP executive committee submitted to the Faculty Senate earlier this semester. We feel as though the junior faculty voice is sufficiently included within this statement, warranting no further comment at this time by the JFC.

 

Mentoring Program

 

The JFC and the larger body of the AAUP would like to pilot a voluntary, interdepartmental faculty-to-faculty mentoring program to begin in the 2010-2011 academic year. Members of the AAUP Executive Committee will spend the current academic year seeking input from junior faculty, senior faculty, and others regarding program design. We began the conversation about faculty mentoring in the JFC meeting in November. This conversation will continue at the AAUP Second Fridays presentation on Friday, February 12th at 3:00 p.m.  At that time a colleague from the University of Delaware, Dr. Steve Fifield and Towson University’s Pam Lottero-Perdue will share their work and insights on the range of ways that faculty mentoring may be programmatically defined and possibly implemented at TU.

 

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