Volume 2007 No. 1

Spring, 2007

 

 

Spring 2007 Newsletter> President's Corner

President's Corner

John McLucas, Professor, Modern Languages
Towson AAUP President

Dear colleagues,

As the academic year winds down, we can look back at some real accomplishments and start to see the parameters of future challenges.  The good news is that I believe our faculty is as strong, committed, and resourceful as ever.

Nevertheless, we face some very complex issues these days.  The University is growing; this is exciting and energizing, but it also involves extra work, often without new resources to support it.  To that end, a number of issues concern the AAUP and the faculty as a whole:

“Work-load” - Often we teach larger classes and the pressure is on us to teach more of them.  Our tenure/tenure-track faculty as of this writing is 507 individuals.  This represents a decline of twenty or more from a few years ago, when our student body was significantly smaller.  This year’s new hires will help here, but there is still ground to make up. 

Lecturers - Part of the slack in teaching-load has been taken up by our very talented and hard-working lecturers.  We are grateful for the work of these people, and we have worked to improve their working conditions.  We also acknowledge that only a tenured or tenure-track colleague can dedicate the time to shared governance and to the dissemination of research which will ensure the democratic functioning and academic reputation of the university.

Compensation - Our pay-scale continues to be too low in comparison with our peer institutions.  The University Senate has recently begun to raise this issue with renewed urgency.  Salary compression; the growing discrepancies in pay between various departments on campus; and the confusing system for assigning “merit” money are all ongoing challenges.

Promotion and tenure - The promotion-and-tenure process continues to be a source of anxiety for many colleagues.  Peer-evaluation is essential to the integrity of our profession, and we need to hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable to the high standards of the academic tradition.  Society needs to see that it benefits from the tenure system, which serves not merely (not even mostly) to provide job security for us, but rather to protect a professoriate dedicated to honest inquiry, free and constructive debate, engaged and accessible teaching, and the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. 

As junior colleagues move through the ranks towards promotion and tenure, we must provide consistent feed-back on their performance so that there is time to correct course when necessary. 

At every step, we must be candid in evaluating each other.  At the same time we must ensure that we are fair-minded, that we enforce a standard which is reasonable to the mission of this institution, that we give proper weight to contributions in teaching and service, and that we avoid personal prejudice. 

In this regard, it is very important that we keep the criterion of “collegiality” in proper perspective; it should not be pulled out of the hat late in the P&T process as a pretext for not promoting someone whose shortcomings in other areas have not been properly documented. 

Finally and always, we must protect the faculty’s role in the whole P&T process, which according to national AAUP principles should normally be primarily a faculty function.  Solidarity!  In all that we do, it is very important to me that we move forward as a united faculty.  We operate under considerable stress at times, and stress can tend to divide us: senior vs. junior, higher-paid vs. lower-paid, scholar-teachers vs. teacher-scholars; base-merit earners vs. merit-plus earners...  In my opinion, these tensions do not reflect who we really are.  The more colleagues I meet and work with, the more impressed I am by our faculty.  Again and again I see people truly and selflessly dedicated to advancing the well-being of our students, our colleagues, our profession, and the university, usually at considerable personal sacrifice.  I’m old-fashioned enough to find that very uplifting.  I want to thank each and every member of this faculty for your wonderful work.

United we stand!

John

 


© 2007 Towson University