Tenure-Track Faculty Structure and Service Roles, Part 1
Convocation, Aug. 25, 2016: I shared a visual that I find helpful in explaining the junior-senior structure of our tenure-track faculty and enumerated the service opportunities for faculty. Then I blogged on these topics and provided evidence for updated counts of 391 service roles for senior tenure-track faculty and 709 for all tenure-track faculty.
At CI we are fortunate to have many dedicated and talented lecturers, including many who take on and perform admirably in service roles. I am grateful and will always recognize their contributions. I focus on the tenure-track faculty when discussing service roles as service is both an obligation of and expectation for probationary and tenured faculty.
“Visible” Service Roles are those that are visible university-wide. This discussion accounts for program service only as chairs, directors, or coordinators — while acknowledging that a lot of good service work occurs in programs. It does not account for service to one’s communities or professional associations. And perhaps most critically, it does not account for the time spent mentoring students beyond classes and office hours. Demands for this time are inordinately high, on average, for faculty of color at predominantly white institutions — the term “invisible burden” is often used in scholarly literature to investigate and articulate this phenomena. Visible service roles also do not account for informal faculty-faculty mentoring. And of course, roles do not all require the same skills, time, or energy.
Some AY16-17 Developments
Early on, Senate Exec agreed to try a new method for matching faculty volunteers to service on university committees. (We use this term to indicate all committees that are not Senate committees.) Senate Officers went through all the university committees and tentatively assigned high, medium, and low priority to the requests for faculty, so we could fill the higher priority requests first. We asked people to indicate committees on which they’d be willing to serve along with their desired service “load” for this component. While the matching process was still arduous and imperfect, we were able to avoid some of the iteration of earlier years. Meanwhile, CI continued to add service roles: for example, the Graduation Initiative 2025 Task Force, a number of ad hoc search committees, etc. I continued to be impressed by faculty’s willingness to serve in various capacities, as time and again people stepped up and took on additional service in response to calls for faculty self-nominations. By the end of the year, however, the well was just about dry. Some calls for nominations or volunteers came up empty.
Tenure-Track Faculty Structure and Service Roles, Part 2
Confession: I’m a data geek. That’s what led to examining our tenure-track faculty structure critically, and to “counting” visible service roles. It’s hard to make headway on a problem — or even be sure there is a problem, let alone convince others! — without some analysis. And yet when I shared the structure graphs and counts of service roles, I was sometimes asked whether the real issue wasn’t that some faculty were doing a lot of service, while others weren’t very engaged at all. So… more data. Below are the graphs I shared in Senate on April 18, 2017. The legend is critical to provide a sense of the types of visible service roles engaged in by individuals. Each colored bar represents one person.
Here we see from the light blue bars along the bottom that 26 of the 47 full professors not FERPing or on leave are chairs of programs, directors of centers, institutes, or programs, and coordinators of programs. Three professors are doing no visible service; three took on nine service roles each this year. There’s a lot of orange — you’d expect faculty to want to be on faculty search committees to have a voice in determining their new colleagues. Professors elected to Senate committees all took on at least three visible service roles. The average (mean) number of visible service roles for professors is 3.5.
Every associate professor took on at least one visible service role. The mean is 3.4; the distribution here appears more uniform than for professors: everyone is doing something and the high numbers are 6 and 7. I believe that we should be developing leadership from among the associate professors. What does this graph indicate about how we’re doing in that respect?
Here we see quite a bit of activity on faculty search committees, and Senate and university committees. The mean number of committees per assistant professor is 2.6. Overall, this looks healthy to me, especially if I assume that the faculty represented by the bars in the left third are those who are first or second year faculty.
We’re hiring: won’t that help?
Sadly, no. Here’s the structure with which we started the year:
After accounting for known FERPs and attrition, here’s what I predict for faculty structure for next year… assuming all 8 of the faculty hired in AY11-12 and AY12-13 are or become senior faculty.
Wow. One more senior faculty than previously, and 19 brand-new junior faculty to acculturate, mentor, etc.
So, now what?
I’ll share these graphs and discussion with Cabinet on May 15. Senate Exec has provided some comments and suggestions for consideration. What’s your take?