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Faculty Senate discusses
how positions are filled

Chronicle of Higher Education article
sparks lively debate at monthly meeting

November 10, 2011

By Howard Primer

Faculty Senate President Joanne Goodell began Wednesday’s Senate meeting by announcing that she had brought her gavel in anticipation of the afternoon’s events.

Decorum never fell out of order, but a lively discussion was held regarding the contents of a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education that focused on Cleveland State’s standing on research and how faculty positions are filled. The session drew about twice as many attendees as the October meeting, including a sizeable contingent from the Administration Center.

CSU President Ronald M. Berkman was quoted in the story as saying, “We can no longer hire everyone on a tenure track and invest in their development for seven years before seeing if they're productive in research.”

He addressed the comments during the meeting.

“No matter how the quotes were used, there is no paradigm shift,” Berkman said. “We made dramatic changes in sponsored research. We will continue to make investments in sponsored research and non-sponsored research.”

Goodell, Professor James G. Wilson and CSU-American Association of University Professors President Jeff Karem all spoke about faculty concerns on how CSU intends to use a provision of the new labor contract that increases the percentage of lecturers to tenure-track faculty from 10 to 20 percent.

Wilson had the sharpest comments, urging the university and the union to not pursue the 20 percent maximum.

“I think this will have a huge impact on our reputation,” Wilson said. “I think it’s a sign of things to come. I think a lot of people are going to say, ‘Why should I send my kid to CSU when I could send my kid to Akron?’ If they see Cleveland State as a high-brow version of Tri-C, they’re going to send their kids elsewhere.”

The lecturer position was created in the new contract. Previously, full-time faculty who were not tenure-track were limited to six years before they had to leave.

Karem said the union was surprised that a number of approved lecturer positions do not seem to be for general education needs, but to do work previously done by tenure-track faculty.

“Both sides agreed that the six-year limit was not serving the faculty or the students well,” he said. “We do have serious concerns about how the lecturer position is being used in this round of hiring.”

Provost Geoffrey S. Mearns cited the negotiations in defending the administration.

“We have minutes, jointly prepared, that show it’s a much more complex and comprehensive discussion about how lecturers are going to be used,” Mearns said.
“Everyone understood in that conversation that it was going to be both replacing part-time faculty as well as, in appropriate cases, an increase in lecturers, in lieu of replacing tenure track faculty.”

Mearns said the university needs more flexibility because of uncertainty in finances, and lecturer positions can be shifted from department to department or between colleges depending on enrollment trends. He added that the university would not be able to address all of its academic needs if the choice was only between adjunct and tenure-track faculty.

Mearns also gave an example of the School of Nursing requesting four lecturers instead of tenure-track positions.

However, Assistant Professor Cheryl Delgado said that was because of the market.

“If we could be competitive in salary, we wouldn’t have to settle for lecturers,” Delgado said.

Mearns was asked if he planned to respond to the Chronicle’s story. He said he had drafted a letter, but had not shown it to Berkman yet. Members of the audience encouraged a response to be posted on the Internet.

In other business:

Berkman said the university will need $200 million to maintain infrastructure over the next decade. About $10 million worth of repairs needs to be addressed in the next couple years, including the façade of Stillwell Hall, which is falling off.

Student Government Association President Moatasem Al Bitar said the organization is working on enabling students to use their Viking card at non-affiliated restaurants near campus.

He also said SGA hopes to have cameras installed in high-traffic areas such as the dining hall and the Rec Center basketball courts so students can see if those places are busy before going there.

Al Bitar also encouraged faculty and deans to participate in the colleges challenge this year, specifically the tug of war.

For more on the Chronicle of Higher Education story, go to http://hpclevelandstater.wordpress.com/