TU-AAUP/Faculty Association JFC Report – Spring 2010

Introduction

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.

 

The JFC is 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 discussed at the spring JFC meeting, which took place on April 9, 2010. The focus of this meeting was to begin preparing for a fall 2010 meeting with the Provost during which we would engage her in a dialogue about concerns that affect junior faculty. Three such concerns were identified at the spring meeting: 1) ramifications of cuts to faculty travel; 2) workload; and 3) salary. I will share the first two of these here, and will allow the TU-AAUP/Faculty Association Salary and Fringe Benefits Committee to voice concerns regarding the last. Meeting notes that document the entirety of issues discussed at the spring 2010 JFC meeting are available upon request (plottero@towson.edu).

 

Ramifications of Cuts to Faculty Travel

 

One of the negative ramifications of the current budget situation at TU for all faculty is the reduction in funding for travel. Many faculty have been told that reduction in travel, although not ideal, should not negatively impact promotion and tenure, especially if junior faculty take the time that had been allocated towards travel and conference preparation to write manuscripts for publication. Although junior faculty agree that writing is extremely important, many have concerns that there are significant detriments to reducing travel that cannot be fully replaced by the act of writing. Specifically, conferences that TU faculty attend:

  • Are opportunities for faculty to network with others, enabling faculty to develop inter-institutional collaborations;
  • Help faculty members deepen their disciplinary identities with others in their areas of specialization;
  • Provide opportunities for faculty to help integrate undergraduate and graduate students into their disciplinary communities and research programs;
  • Enable TU to gain credibility in regional, national and international academic discussions; and
  • Provide opportunities for faculty to receive essential feedback on their scholarship, helping them to better position their papers for publication acceptance.

The above issues are particularly important for junior faculty in the early stages of their careers when they are building communities of collaboration, reinforcing newly fledged disciplinary identities, developing undergraduate or graduate research opportunities for students, competing with other institutions for grant money, and generating peer-reviewed publications.

 

Workload

 

Clarity of communication about workload expectations and fairness in workload across the campus continue to be important issues for junior faculty. Some junior faculty are worried about “workload creep” in which teaching load may increase beyond a 3-3 load. Junior faculty are 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. The attention given to, lack of attention to, and different interpretations of the Boyer model seem to add to the confusion regarding workload and the teaching/research/service balance; in this way, the Boyer model may add confusion rather than serving as clarifying tool. Workload expectations seem to vary widely across the campus, generating concerns regarding workload equity across junior faculty.

 

Join the JFC in the early fall of 2010 as we continue to articulate junior faculty concerns in preparation with our late fall 2010 meeting with the Provost! Fall 2010 JFC meetings TBA.

 

Pamela Lottero-Perdue, Ph.D. (plottero@towson.edu)

TU-AAUP/Faculty Association JFC Chairperson

Assistant Professor of Science Education

Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences

 
 

Return to Spring 2010 Newsletter