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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Committee on Academic Title-Holder Representation

Quick Overview


Representation for the University Faculty, the non-tenure track faculty, post-docs, librarians, and other academic title-holders should reflect the deep levels of professional interaction that already exist between these constituencies. Given this principle, the Committee is  charged to assess the current state of representation for all academic title-holders and to recommend improvements where necessary.

The role of the Senate is key. Currently, only members of the University Faculty can belong to the Senate. All other academic titleholders (the NTT titleholders) belong to the Employee Assembly (EA).

If the current rules for Senate membership persist, then what can be done to improve representation for the NTT titleholders? Here are two possibilities:

  1. The NTT titleholders stay in the  EA and are  allocated a specified number of “seats”.
  2. The NTT titleholders  create a new assembly just for themselves.

On the other hand, the following options  exist if  Senate membership rules are relaxed:

  1. Departments could be  allowed to staff their senate seats with any person who has an academic title.
  2. Senator-at-large seats could be created for various academic title-holders.

The Committee should consider each of these (and other) possibilities, drafting enabling legislation as required.

In addition, the Committee should provide answers  to these questions:

  1. Who should be allowed to vote for faculty trustee, dean of faculty, and other elected positions?
  2. Who should be allowed to sit on the various Senate committees?
  3. Should a new Senate committee be created that deals with issues pertaining to NTT titleholders?

The Committee should submit its report to the Senate by October 1, 2018.


Stephane Bentolia Molecular Biology and Genetics Assistant Research Professor
Brenda Dietrich Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Professor of the Practice
Aliqae Geraci Cornell University Library Associate Librarian
Kim Kopco Policy Analysis and Management Senior Extension Associate
Bruce Lauber Natural Resources Senior Research Associate
Estelle McKee Law Clinical Professor
Pilar Thompson Employee Assembly
Charles Van Loan Computer Science Professor Emeritus, Dean of Faculty

Background: Academic Titles

The Faculty Handbook defines both titles and title modifiers.  Modifiers include “visiting”, “adjunct”, “courtesy”, “acting”, and “emeritus/a”.

The tenured and tenure-track faculty basically make up the University Faculty. These include assistant professors, associate professors, professors,  and university professors.

The non-tenure track academic titles can be grouped by approximate job-description. One has to say “approximate” because there is variation across the colleges in terms of how these titles are used. For example, a title that is used  “primarily”  for teaching may have a research or extension component. Having said that, here is a 3-way classification:

1.Titles Primarily Associated with Teaching

lecturer, senior lecturer, instructor, teaching associate, professor-of-the-practice

2.Titles Primarily Associated with Research

clinical professor, research professor, senior scholar, senior scientist, research scientist, senior research scientist, research associate,, senior research associate, extension associate, senior extension associate, post-doctoral associate, post-doctoral fellow, librarian, archivist

3. Titles for Visitors

visiting critic, visiting scholar, visiting scientist

All professorial titles (those that include the word “professor”) have assistant and associate ranks as do the librarian and archivist titles.

More data on the academic title-holder population.

Background: The Assemblies

Everybody at Cornell is represented through one of four assemblies:

  1. The University Faculty Senate  represents approximately 1650  tenured and tenure track faculty. As they are part of the University Faculty, the 600+ emeriti are also represented in the Senate through a designated seat.
  2. The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) represents approximately 3200 PhD students, 400 research masters students,  and the 4500 Professional Degree students.
  3. The Student Assembly (SA) represents approximately 15000 undergraduates.
  4. The Employee Assembly (EA)  represents everyone else  including 6800 nonacademic staff, 1020 academic professionals (350 Instructional Staff,  the 330 Research Staff, the 120 Librarians and Archivists, and the 240 Extension Staff),  and 550 Post Docs.

The University Assembly has representatives from each of the above.

Why there are assemblies:

Chartered by the President of the University with delegated authority from the Board of Trustees, the Assemblies serve as advisory bodies to the administration, representing matters of concern and constituent interests to University leadership. [ More ]

Separate from the assemblies is the Office of Post Doctoral Studies which provides numerous services for that constituency.

Comments on the Alignment of Constituencies with Assemblies

Read what post-docs and NTT faculty have to say about representation through the assemblies. Some comments on the comments:

  • There appears to be little enthusiasm for  postdocs  affiliating with the GPSA even though post-docs and grads are confronted with many of the same start-of-career issues.
  • There is some interest in creating a new assembly for all academic title-holders who are not members of the University Faculty.
  • Some feel that their  voices would not be heard in a TT-dominated senate.
  • Many more feel that their voices would only be heard in a reorganized Senate because their job description has a serious overlap with what TT faculty do.
  • Some feel that they are fully appreciated by their department and their college and that there is no need for rearrangements at the university level.

Relevant Legislation and How it Can Be Changed

The definition of  “University Faculty” is set forth in Article XIII of the University Bylaws. This is not going to change.

The University Faculty delegates just about everything to the Senate. But the University Faculty can meet and vote by themselves whenever they want, e.g., on matters that pertain to tenure-track promotions.

Who can be a member of the Senate is set forth in Article IX of the Operating Principles of the University faculty (OPUF). It basically says that you must be a member of the University Faculty to be a member of the Senate. That is, you must be a tenure-track faculty member.

The Article XIV of the OPUF explains the process by which the OPUF can be modified. The change must be proposed  and then ratified:

  1. A proposed change can be initiated three ways:  (a) by a majority of senators, (b) by a majority of UFC members, or (c) by a written petition signed by at least 50 University Faculty members who are not members of the Senate.
  2. Ratification requires the staging of a referendum in which all University Faculty members are allowed to vote. If the majority of cast votes support the proposed change,  then the OPUF is modified accordingly.

Historical Note

An ad hoc committee of the  Senate looked into NTT matters back in 2004. Here is their report. It appears that no actions of the type presently under consideration were taken.

Other Schools

There are many different set-ups for representation at peer schools so it is very hard to make useful  one-to-one comparisons. But here are some approximate snapshots:

  • U Michigan: TT and research faculty and librarians. Clinical faculty have no representation. The lecturers are unionized.
  • U Chicago: Just TT.
  • Yale: Currently 3 of 22 are NTT
  • UPenn: TT only
  • Stanford: TT and certain NTT
  • Columbia: TT and NTT
  • Berkeley: TT and NTT except lecturers are unionized

Last Updated: March 21, 2018 at 4:39 pm


  1. I have been an active adjunct Professor in the department of Soil and Crop Sciences, CALS since 2000 and have taught many courses and advised many students — undergraduate and graduate and supervised many theses for graduate students. I returned to Cornell after 30 years overseas and getting my PhD at Cornell in 1972. So no point in getting a tenure track position at the age of 58. But now I find I fall through the cracks in terms of privileges after retiring and have no representation or place to ask questions.

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