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Composition of the Faculty: Where do we go from here and how does shared governance come into play?

For the Fall of 2011, the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs reported that there were 2108 full time faculty members on the IUB campus, distributed across 8 categories of appointment. Aside from the Research Scientist category, all of the others involve instructional responsibilities and fall into a broad division between tenure-track (TT) and non tenure-track (NTT) appointees. The current proportion of the total faculty that falls into the NTT instructional categories (526 members of the faculty) is almost exactly 25%. Since 2006 the number of TT appointees has increased by 29, while the number of NTT instructional appointees has increased by 115. What will the next five years bring? Which priorities will drive change in faculty composition?

There is significant variability in faculty composition across the academic units, but those details are not the focus of this Report. Rather, the issue is whether the faculty is appropriately engaged in determining the faculty profile of IUB.

The Indiana University faculty has adopted a Constitution which defines the role of faculty in this way: “The faculty has legislative authority to establish policy and determine procedures for its implementation governing the teaching, research, and service aspects of the University's academic mission. Areas within the faculty's legislative authority include: …Standards and procedures for faculty appointments …”.

Faculty Appointments are governed by a policy whose last major revision was approved in 2001. It is important to note that this policy, in addition to being approved by the faculty, was also approved by the Trustees. It is therefore reasonable to expect that university, campus and school administrators will implement the faculty appointment process according to this policy. With respect to the idea of shared governance, the policy clearly states (part A, paragraph 3) that the faculty, particularly the tenure-track faculty, should play a significant role in structuring the work of the faculty in an academic unit and should, at the campus level, regularly review the aggregate of decisions made at the school level.

A significant element of the IUB mission statement, which was also approved by the Trustees, is focused on the importance of research. Clearly there are other important elements, but research is at the very least first among equals. According to the appointments policy, only the tenure-track appointees (1456 in number) and the research scientist appointees (126 in number) have general research responsibilities in their job description. Are the appointment decisions made over the past five years consistent with the campus mission?

This is an important question, but not one with a simple answer. It is clear, however, that the data presented here describe outcomes that are primarily determined at the school level. Appointments are made based on school needs, and there is little evidence to suggest that campus goals figure into the outcome in a meaningful way. Should this continue to be the case?

Some argue, however, that the appointment of NTT faculty, in addition to satisfying school instructional needs, also promotes the research mission by allowing the TT faculty to focus more on research. Others argue that the standing of IUB in the ranks of research oriented campuses can only be elevated, a stated goal of President McRobbie, by significantly increasing the number of TT appointees. Competing needs clearly exist and in order to meet them, academic appointments must be balanced in an appropriate way. Through shared governance, the faculty has an important role to play in finding and maintaining that balance.

Questions can certainly be raised about the faculty’s commitment to shared governance. It seems quite apparent that younger faculty, on average, are less interested in governance issues than are those in the previous generations of faculty. The reasons for this are fairly apparent. As with everything else, however, there is variability about the mean, and even in the younger group there are faculty who view shared governance as an important idea. As discussed here, there are several contexts within which the issues underlying faculty composition can be engaged under university policy, ranging from the departmental/school to the campus level. This Report is premised on the idea that Indiana University will be the better for this type of faculty engagement.

Finally, a Facebook page has been established to facilitate the development of a community of faculty members interested in shared governance at IUB. Hopefully, sharing information with those of like mind will facilitate shared governance in regard to faculty composition, and in other settings consistent with the faculty Constitution. Please visit and contribute to the development of this community.

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