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Mark Pagano – Chancellor
University of Washington Tacoma
Garretson Woodruff Pratt 312, Box 358430
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402 

April 7, 2017 

Dear Chancellor Pagano and President Cauce, 

Over the past academic year, a variety of our members from different ranks—from part-time lecturers to tenured faculty—have brought to our attention issues and concerns with lecturer hiring, renewal, and promotion on the UWT campus. Most troubling is the failure to follow the recommendations made by then-VCAA J. W. Harrington (Exhibit B) and then-Provost Ana Mari Cauce in 2013-15 after long-term campus- and system-based discussions regarding lecturers at UWT and the other UW campuses (Exhibit A). Those recommendations have been reiterated, almost verbatim, by the UWT Office of Academic Affairs as recently as November 2016 (Exhibit C), yet they continue to be frequently disregarded in hiring practices on the Tacoma campus. 

These failures include: 

  1. Ignoring recommended restrictions on the hiring of part-time lecturers 
  2. Ignoring recommended restrictions on the hiring of non-competitively hired full-time lecturers 

In addition, we have received a number of reports from our members and other faculty that trend in the direction of making lecturers more precarious and less respected at our institution, thereby going against the spirit, if not the letter, of the recommendations referenced above. Specifically, we have heard: 

  1. That contract lengths given to lecturer faculty of the same rank have varied widely with no consultation or explanation of the rationale behind unilateral decisions—this is of particular concern regarding competitively-hired lecturers 
  2. That lecturer faculty have been told they would receive one contract length, only to have it shortened in their official contract with no explanation 
  3. That the precedent of creating competitive lecturer lines at the request of division/major faculty to replace non-competitive lines that have been open for three years has not been honored 
  4. That the lack of transparency and intentionality in determining hiring priorities this year has faculty of all ranks concerned about how the make-up of the faculty will evolve in the coming years and whether faculty will continue to have a meaningful voice in this process 
  5. That non-competitive lecturer hires are supposed to be used only for emergencies or when there is short notice for a faculty opening or an enrollment need, yet the extensive review and rehire process for non-competitive lecturers suggests a level of planning and anticipation that clearly belies the notion that these are last-minute, emergency hires

On behalf of our union members, and in the interest of all UWT faculty, we request that the administration account for the failures cited above and explain the troubling trends that seem to have emerged this year. We would also like to know how the administration plans to address faculty concerns on lecturer issues, which are once again causing tension and uncertainty among and between UWT faculty ranks and destabilizing our professional community. 

Beyond questions of campus climate, these developments also raise fair-labor and pedagogical concerns. The growth of contingent faculty (73% of teaching faculty nationwide) leaves both the professionalization of academics (whether on or off the tenure track) and their students’ best interests at risk.1 From the point of view of the profession as a whole, the failures and trends referenced above contribute to the further casualization of the professoriate and the devaluing of academic labor. And what is worse, from the point of view of the students, these developments impoverish the educational experience by threatening the continuity and stability of the teaching and mentorship they need to help them achieve their goals at UWT and beyond. Furthermore, hiring faculty without a competitive recruitment process violates federal equal-opportunity law, so the university’s reliance on non-competitive hires puts it at risk for federal action. For these reasons, the union urgently requests that you either reaffirm the November 2016 update or immediately clarify the lecturer policy recommendations to reflect the new administration’s considered position and to provide more transparency in hiring, renewal, and promotion in the future. 

We are cognizant of the pressures on higher education as whole, including budget woes, as higher education continues to be often ungenerously scrutinized in our current political and cultural climate. We also realize that UWT leadership has changed often over the past few years, and we welcome this opportunity to inform you, in the spirit of collegiality, about the evolution of the role of lecturers at the University of Washington—an area where the UW has been in the vanguard of defining new careers in the academy. It is our sincere hope for our students, our colleagues, and our institution that the failures and trends cited above can be attributed simply to a lack of understanding this history and do not signal a shift away from the progress that we have made in ensuring that all members of the faculty feel adequately supported and valued. 

Regardless of pressures on the administration, faculty deserve consistent transparency on how and why hiring, renewal, and promotion decisions are being made, particularly considering the clear and relatively recent recommendations by former VCAAs and our now-President Cauce that were signs of real improvement after years of neglect with respect to lecturer issues. We eagerly await your reply and hope it will be sent not just to our organization, but also to Deans and Division chairs, and the entire UWT faculty. 

Sincerely, 

Tacoma members of University of Washington Faculty Forward: 
Dolores Alcaide Ramirez – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Michael Berry – Part-Time Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Elizabeth Bruch – Assistant Professor – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
Alison Cardinal – Competitve Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Ed Chamberlain – Assistant Professor – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Jane Compson – Assistant Professor – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
Kimberly Davenport –Part-Time Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Linda Dawson – Senior Lecturers – IAS – Science and Math
Vanessa De Veritch Woodside – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Robin Evans-Agnew – Assistant Professor – Nursing and Healhcare Leadership
Laura Feuerborn – Associate Professor –Education
Jerry Flores – Assistant Professor – Social Work
Michael Forman – Associate Professor – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
Margaret Griesse – Senior Lecturer – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Sarah Hampson – Assistant Professor – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affair
Jennifer Harris – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Social, Behavioral and Human Sciences
Andrea Hill – Competitive Lecturer – Social Work
Michael Honey – Professor – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Cynthia Howsen – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Linda Ishem – Competitive Lecturer – Urban Studies
Leanne Laux-Bachand – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Michael Kucher – Associate Professor – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Eric Madfis – Assistant Professor – Social Work
Chris Marriott – Competitive Lecturer – Institute of Technology
Benjamin Meiches – Assistant Professor – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
Andrea Modarres – Assistant Professor – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Walter Moore – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Alex Morrow – Part-Time Lecturer – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Nita McKinley – Associate Professor – IAS – Social, Behavioral and Human Sciences
Abby Murray – Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Beverly Naidus – Associate Professor – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Amos Nascimento – Associate Professor – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
Annie Nguyen – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Randy Nichols – Assistant Professor – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Julie Nicoletta – Professor – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Olga Shatanova – Lecturer – IAS – Science and Math
Alex Nutter Smith – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Josh Tenenberg – Professor – Institute of Technology
James Thatcher – Assistant Professor – Urban Studies
Tanya Velasquez – Lecturer – IAS – Social and Historical Studies
Ingrid Walker – Associate Professor – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Ariel Wetzel – Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Charles Williams – Associate Professor – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs 

University of Washington Faculty Forward Steering Committee: 
Eric Bugyis – UWT –Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
Eva Cherniavsky – UWS – Professor – English
Charlie Collins – UWB – Assistant Professor – IAS
Joanne Clarke Dillman UWT – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Amy Hagopian – UWS – Associate Professor – Health Services and Global Health
Moon-Ho Jung – UWS – Associate Professor – History
James Liner – UWT – Lecturer – IAS – Culture, Arts and Communication
Sudhir Mahadeven – UWS – Associate Professor – Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media
Carrie Matthews – UWS – Senior Lecturer – English
Libi Sundermann – UWT – Competitive Lecturer – IAS – Social and Historical Studies

CC:
Ana Mari Cauce
Gerald Baldasty
UW Regents
Kim Dinh
Alison Hendricks
Melissa Lavitt
Howard Smith
Anne Bartlett
Brian McAlister
Raj Katti
Sharon Gavin Fought
Tom Diehm
Ali Modarres
Zoe Barsness
J. Mark Pendras
Lauren Montgomery
Berkan Koroglu

 


Exhibit A 

We have included a brief history of lecturer affairs as we know that some of these discussions and recommendations preceded your role at UWT. 

In the 2011-12 academic year, UWT Faculty Assembly Executive Council sponsored a task force to examine the lecturer experience at UWT. In Fall 2012, the Chair of Faculty Assembly initiated an ad-hoc Lecturer Affairs Committee under Faculty Affairs. A motivation for Lecturer Affairs was the confusion over the discovery that most full-time lecturers at UWT could not be given multi-year contracts. After consultations with AHR and the Faculty Senate on the Faculty Code it was revealed that the bulk of UWT lecturers had not been hired competitively. Further investigation revealed this was also the case at UWB and UWS. In addition, it was noted that the Faculty Code did not recognize the difference between non-competitively-hired and competitively-hired lectures, adding to faculty and administrative confusion. UWT was ashamed to admit that many non-competitively hired lecturers had been serving in year-to-year contracts with no rights to promotion or longer contracts for years—in one case, for two decades. This form of unstable and demoralizing labor was deemed untenable by administration and faculty alike. 

UWT Lecturer Affairs’ work to change this problem led to Provost Cauce’s charge to the UW Senate to form a UW Tri-Campus Lecturer Affairs Committee. Because of this work, several recommendations and reports were made between 2013 and 2016 updating campuses on lecturer hiring, renewal, and promotion.2

While lecturer hiring, renewal, and promotion issues seemed to improve between 2014 and 2016, it is now apparent that many problems remain and that concerns that had been mollified are now back on the table. 


Exhibit B 

SUGGESTED GUIDELINES FOR FACULTY RECRUITMENT BY TITLE 

JW Harrington, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Washington Tacoma
5 March 2013 

 

I’ve prepared this set of simple guidelines, not as formal policy, but to share my own thinking about the rationales for recruiting faculty at different titles and ranks. For simplicity, I’ve omitted Research, Clinical, Acting, and W-O-T titles. 

An academic unit should recruit a part-time lecturer, typically through local networks,3 when: 

  • There is an unexpected surge in enrollment in a particular course or program. 
  • A long-term faculty member is on paid professional leave, medical leave, or has a research- or service-based course reduction for one or two years. 
  • A program needs specialized expertise (often related to professional, non-academic experience), on an on-going basis, but for only one or a few specific courses each academic year. 

An academic unit should recruit a full-time Lecturer through local networks when:

  • A program has unexpected needs (because of enrollment surges or reductions in force due to paid professional leaves, medical leaves, or has a research- or service-based course reductions) that can be filled by the expertise of a single person for seven or more classes during an academic year. 
  • A new or growing degree program is unsure of student demand, and needs to complement long-term faculty with shorter-term faculty. 

An academic unit should conduct a full-scale search for a Lecturer when: 

  • Sustained enrollment growth in an established degree program (or required lower-division courses) can be met largely through adding sections of established courses. 
  • The implementation of a new degree program requires faculty in addition to the colleagues who lead the design of the program.4

An academic unit should conduct a full-scale search for a Senior Lecturer when: 

  • A current or new degree program needs instructional leadership. 
  • An effective search requires recruiting for a more senior, better paying, and longer-contracted position. 

An academic unit should promote competitively recruited Lecturers and Senior Lecturers when: 

  • That colleague’s degree attainment, term of tenure, teaching quality, and/or internal leadership warrants promotion. 

An academic unit should conduct a search for an Assistant Professor when: 

  • A current degree program has demonstrated student demand and a need for greater scholarly leadership. 
  • An established program has seen a reduction in professorial-ranked faculty, and yet expects continued student demand. 
  • A new or proposed degree program requires scholarly leadership. 

An academic unit should conduct a search for an Associate Professor or Professor when: 

  • The faculty and leadership see an opportunity for scholarly excellence in a given specialization. 
  • There is a clear lack of senior leadership in a broad subject area. 
  • Development of a major new program requires senior leadership. 

 

Related links 

Reports, University Work Groups on Lecturer Appointments, “Fact sheet: lecturers play a critical role at the UW (February 2016): Provost guidelines for the appointment of full-time lecturers (January 2015); Report from the Tri-campus Lecturers Committee (June 2014); Report from the provost’s work group on lecturers at UW Seattle (June 2014); Report from the UW Bothell Lecturers Working Group (June 2014); Report from UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly regarding full-time lecturers (March 2013).” 


Exhibit C 

SUGGESTED GUIDELINES FOR FACULTY RECRUITMENT BY TITLE 

Office of Academic Affairs 7
Updated: November 2016 

 

Below is a set s set of simple guidelines, not as formal policy, but to share thinking about the rationales for recruiting faculty at different titles and ranks. For simplicity, I’ve omitted Research, Clinical, Acting, and W-O-T titles. 

 An academic unit should recruit a part-time Lecturer, typically through local networks,5 when: 

  • There is an unexpected surge in enrollment in a particular course or program. 
  • A long-term faculty member is on paid professional leave, medical leave, or has a research- or service-based course reduction for one or two years. 
  • A program needs specialized expertise (often related to professional, non-academic experience), on an on-going basis, but for only one or a few specific courses each academic year. 

An academic unit should recruit a full-time Lecturer through local networks when: 

  • A program has unexpected needs (because of enrollment surges or reductions in force due to paid professional leaves, medical leaves, or has a research- or service-based course reductions) that can be filled by the expertise of a single person for seven or more classes during an academic year. 
  • A new or growing degree program is unsure of student demand, and needs to complement long-term faculty with shorter-term faculty. 

An academic unit should conduct a search for a full-time Lecturer, competitively recruited when: 

  • Sustained enrollment growth in an established degree program (or required lower-division courses) can be met largely through adding sections of established courses. 
  • The implementation of a new degree program requires faculty in addition to the colleagues who lead the design of the program.6

An academic unit should conduct a search for a Senior Lecturer when: 

  • A current or new degree program needs instructional leadership. 
  • An effective search requires recruiting for a more senior, better paying, and longer-contracted position.  

An academic unit should conduct a search for an Assistant Professor when: 

  • A current degree program has demonstrated student demand and a need for greater scholarly leadership.
  • An established program has seen a reduction in professorial-ranked faculty, and yet expects continued student demand. 
  • A new or proposed degree program requires scholarly leadership. 

An academic unit should conduct a search for an Associate Professor or Professor when: 

  • The faculty and leadership see an opportunity for scholarly excellence in a given specialization. 
  • There is a clear lack of senior leadership in a broad subject area. 
  • Development of a major new program requires senior leadership. 

1 AAUP, “Contingent Faculty Positions,” https://www.aaup.org/issues/contingency 

Reports, University work groups on lecturer appointments, “Fact sheet: lecturers play a critical role at the UW (February 2016): Provost guidelines for the appointment of full-time lecturers (January 2015)Report from the Tri-campus Lecturers Committee (June 2014)Report from the provost’s work group on lecturers at UW Seattle (June 2014)Report from the UW Bothell Lecturers Working Group (June 2014)Report from UW Tacoma Faculty Assembly regarding full-time lecturers (March 2013).” 

3 Note that the UW does allow for competitive recruitment of part-time lecturers. 

4 However, part of the recruitment, selection, and mentoring of FT Lecturers should include moving into progressively greater leadership roles in pedagogy, curriculum support, governance, and other matters – preparing for potential promotion to Senior Lecturer. 

5 Note that the UW does allow for competitive recruitment of part-time lecturers. 

6 However, part of the recruitment, selection, and mentoring of FT Lecturers should include moving into progressively greater leadership roles in pedagogy, curriculum support, governance, and other matters – preparing for potential promotion to Senior Lecturer. 

All UW photographs by Curtis Cronn and subject to CC-licenses as indicated on Flickr

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