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Comments from Non-Tenure Track Faculty

Although nontenure-track academic title holders theoretically have a voice through the EA, that body is overwhelmingly made up of nonacademic staff. It may make more sense for this group to express themselves in other ways: possibly through the Senate  or possibly through a brand new assembly. On the other hand maybe things are fine as is. We would like to learn what you think.

For a more informed view take a look at the Senate Agendas This will help you better understand how that body spends its time.

Please share you insights below. Posted comments are anonymous unless you identify yourself in the comment itself.



Last Updated: February 10, 2018 at 5:46 am


  1. We are not well represented in any of these forums.

  2. I do not feel like we are well represented by any of the current groups. I am not sure if this means we need a separate group or just better representation in the current groups. My understanding from attending faculty meetings is that they are planning to dissemble the faculty senate or at least restructure it. The plan that was presented does not look like a good one as it could easily be unbalanced and only represent a few depts. I do not think tenure track faculty would do a good job representing our concerns. The employee assembly does not seem like a good fit either because the work we do does not align very well and we are not represented by any union. I would like to see us have representation for our group some place as I have several concerns about policies and rules to which we are subject that seem unfair and inappropriate, but there has been no place to voice those concerns or have them addressed.

    1. If the poster of this comment would clarify, I would appreciate it. I’m curious to hear more about the idea that “there has been no place to voice those concerns or have them addressed.” Is it the lack of *forum* for having the concerns addressed? A lack of *action* when these concerns are addressed in a forum such as the EA? Fear of retribution for expressing concerns in a public forum? A combination thereof? Or something else? I think this is a really, really important point, and I want to understand it better.

  3. Thank you for asking for our input. This is a significant issue, and yes, we do need some sort of representation. The EA never seemed like a fit for us. The Faculty Senate makes sense to me when I consider whether issues discussed affect NTT faculty: of course, they do. However, I would be concerned about having a legitimate voice in that forum and, personally, I find the structure and formality off-putting.

    Perhaps we could start with a separate assembly. We have many issues to discuss, starting with the “NTT” label, which is far from ideal. Why are we called “not” something? I also believe it’s in the University’s interest to assemble and support this group before unionization efforts take hold.

    1. I hear the concerns about the formality of the Faculty Senate as well as questions about whether tenure-track faculty will take concerns of non-tenure-track faculty seriously. That being said, given the national shift towards non-tenure-track faculty, and the fact that there are apparently ~900 instructional staff, research staff, and librarians (> 50% of the TT faculty numbers), it might make a lot of sense in terms of institutional “signaling” to have non-tenure track faculty represented in the body that has traditionally represented tenure-track faculty. That is to say, having NTT faculty represented by the faculty senate lends legitimacy to the work we do as faculty on this campus, and much of it is similar to the responsibilities of TT faculty, as you note.

  4. As a librarian, it is concerning that our ostensible representative body (Academic Assembly) is not included in the university governance structure.

    Regardless of title or discipline, NTT academics are not sufficiently represented by the bodies listed. Theoretically, the functions performed by NTT academics are more aligned with those of TT faculty, but our terms and conditions of employment, and position within the university, are very different than that of TT faculty as well as staff. A separate governance body is appropriate in this case.

    1. Also a librarian, and seconding the concern about Academic Assembly not being included in the governance structure.

  5. I’m a senior lecturer in Arts and Sciences, and I’ve only been at Cornell for a few years. Earlier in my career, I was tenured faculty at a state university and was on university-level committees and felt involved in conversations about the university at large. Here, I’ve been trying to figure out how to enter those conversations. The EA hasn’t felt like a good fit and during Faculty Senate meetings, I feel like a lurker. It’s hard to feel a true part of the Cornell community without being part of the conversations that guide the university. For this reason, I would advocate for NNT representation in the Faculty Senate, proportional to the number of NNT faculty at Cornell (rather than a single token NNT senate member). I also recognize the need for space for NNT faculty to talk among themselves and work toward common goals, so while I’m not sure a full assembly is needed, a large open committee would be beneficial.

  6. I feel that my work is much more similar to regular faculty, not staff. I do research, write grant proposals, occasionally teach and advise students. This is a faculty role, and as such we should be included in the faculty senate. Currently, Cornell does NOT represent our concerns adequately, yet advances its reputation partly on our efforts. I also echo the sentiment of others above about the lack of advancement potential and the inequity of pay scales. This will need to change.

    1. I agree. I am responsible for teaching (undergraduate and graduate), mentoring, advising (for undergraduates and graduates), conducting federally funded and peer reviewed research, service, outreach, engagement. I do not have a title that reflects these expectations or capabilities. I would much prefer a NTT *faculty* label (rather than NTT academic staff). I was told upon being hired that I’m faculty (though clearly not TT)- I have had trouble with the “academic staff” label as know one seems to know what it means other than to create a distinction from TT faculty.

      In terms of representation, EA has never seemed an appropriate fit. I worry that NTT concerns would be irrelevant or our participation a form of tokenism on faculty senate. If that ends up being the pathway, there would need to be thought about the number of people who are included in order to have a meaningful and influential voice.

      I also think the needs of this group are substantially diverse – my understanding is there a much wider array of responsibilities, concerns, pathways, professional arrangements that the Faculty Senate is perhaps equipped to deal with – and I think it will be important to think about the various elements of having a voice in matters typically decided by the Faculty Senate vs. advancing policies and practices that address some of the longstanding concerns of NTT faculty.

      I am not sure how unified all of us who are lumped in various NTT faculty/NTT academic staff/ specialty track titles actually are, other than having limited voice and concerns about professional advancement and institutional climate. How unified the specific concerns about roles, titles, pay, title based policies (i.e. PI eligibility), access to resources, status within the university is unknown and worth understanding. As such Faculty Senate participation may be necessary but not sufficient to address the scope of issues facing this diverse group.

  7. If the University Faculty Senate determines policies that affect both research and teaching-focused faculty, then yes, it should include all faculty in its representation. The current structure is quite an exclusive one, and it sends the message that teaching-focused faculty are a less important stakeholder in the University. When one considers that a number of NTT faculty hold Ph.D. degrees similar to tenure-track faculty and some also engage in research, we should expect all faculty to have a voice and clear representation on the Faculty Senate.
    From a Diversity and Inclusion perspective, we should welcome and embrace the unique voices of our key stakeholders and demonstrate this genuine commitment in our own practices. As Albert Einstein wisely noted, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If we continue to place the same people on the Faculty Senate and achieve similar results, then we should begin to question the sanity of our current practices. As an alumna and senior lecturer, I’m glad you are taking the first steps to address this significant issue by soliciting our feedback.

    Thank you. Peggy Odom-Reed

  8. Thank you for asking and creating space for a dialog.
    I feel that there should be representation as a part of the Faculty Senate, or as a separate assembly; or maybe part of Faculty Senate with a subgroup to address issues that apply only to NTT faculty.

    I believe NTT are not well served being represented with the EA.

  9. I concur with many of the previous commenters that NTT faculty in teaching or research roles have interests that are better aligned with the Faculty Senate than with the Employee Assembly. But I am also aware that some tenure track faculty have a less than charitable view of NTT faculty, and thus it may be more effective to have a distinct governance body for NTT faculty to ensure that our specific concerns come forward.

  10. Thank you for raising this question. As a Senior Extension Associate in CALS, I have often felt that my type of position is in a sort of “no man’s land” in terms of representation on governance bodies. In fact, in CALS, there is a proposal to restructure the CALS faculty senate, and under that proposal there would be only ONE representative for all extension and research associates in the college (as compared to 6 or 7 representatives for tenure track faculty across all departments/academic units), despite the fact that research and extension make up two of the three traditional legs of our “stool” (teaching, research and extension).
    Put another way, we are not represented in the university faculty senate (and as I have pointed out, we are poorly represented in the CALS faculty senate), and I agree with your implication that we are lost in the crowd of representation in the Employee Assembly. Perhaps it is time for separate and distinct representation for positions like mine (research and extension associates) in college and university governance, or perhaps for us to be better represented on the faculty senate.

  11. Thank you for raising this issue. I’ve been a member of the non-tenure track faculty for 30 years and there has always been a clear need for a mechanism to represent NTT employees specifically, and to influence policy decisions that affect the work we uniquely do. I would welcome a discussion about how to best structure a representative mechanism.

    Sally Klingel

  12. I don’t know what the right approach would be, given this is a rather small body of employees, but I more often than not feel we fall through the cracks. I’m a Senior Research Associate and it seems sometimes we are viewed as staff, sometimes as faculty, but rarely consistently. My memory is in my time here I’ve seen an aggressive faculty salary improvement program that did not include me, followed by a staff salary improvement program that also did not include me. I believe we are the only class of employees at the University that after years of service still get capped at 30 days of vacation roll over. While the staff I supervise have some protection in terms of fair compensation via published salary ranges and external market measures and expectations we keep them within a certain range of that, I know of no comparable system for non-tenure academics, which leads us to having no way of knowing what our salaries look like compared to peers and allows potential for wide salary disparities. I’ve been here a long time and will retire in 5-8 years, so I’ve come to accept the situation, but do feel these are non-typical positions with poorly codified performance expectations and feel folks in this class would benefit if given a unique voice.

  13. I think NTT academic staff need our own system of representation. For instance, unlike tenure and tenure-eligible faculty, lecturers and senior lecturers are employed “at will”: we can be fired at any time, without cause. I would appreciate having a forum in which to discuss the implications and effect of at-will employment on our work as academic staff.

  14. I would be in favor of a new assembly for nontenure-track academic title holders.

  15. Question–where do Professors of Practice fall in the 4 groups outlined above?

  16. I STRONGLY feel that NTT faculty are underrepresented, perhaps even marginalized as a result of this liminal status. I greatly appreciate it being recognized. Thank you.

  17. I believe I would be much better represented by the faculty Senate. As a senior Lecturer I teach, advise undergraduates, train graduate student teaching assistants, attend faculty meetings, and serve on departmental committees. I basically do everything a tenure track faculty person does except research. It makes no sense to be lumped with non-academics.

  18. After looking at the agendas for the Faculty Senate, I think it makes more sense for NTT faculty to have representation with this group rather than with the Employee Assembly. Most NTT faculty are mostly involved with teaching and research (as are TT faculty members). At the same time, if the Faculty Senate represents us, we should have proportional representation on that body.

  19. It is unclear to me how unit directors (e.g., directors of Lab of O, Museum, botanic gardens) have a voice, unless they also have a tenured faculty position. Only one does, to my knowledge, although others have guest appointments. The Employee Assembly seems to be open more to nonacademic staff and the Faculty Senate to tenure track faculty. Thus, it seems a number of employees fall through the cracks.

  20. We should be members of the Faculty Senate because while they do not represent us they do talk about the issues that affect us. I never got to or read the minutes of the employee assembly accept as to how they affect the employees I supervise. I always read the minutes of the Faculty Senate because what they do is always relevant to what I do and always affects my academic freedom, job security, and the quality of my work. This is because I do the same work as a tenure track faculty member just not the rights and privilages. There are many like me who teach undergraduate and graduate student classes, conduct peer reviewed research; provide funding, teach, and advise, PhD, Masters, and undergraduate students who are doing thesis research (although because of our status, I do not get recognized for the graduate students). We are leading scholars in our fields, are frequently consulted as an expert by both the media and and government; do the work of some of the most important research and teaching committees; and repeatedly win the universities highest research and teaching awards. So yes, we belong in the faculty senate. We do the same work, our IDs say we are academic faculty not staff. Labor and employment law would define us as faculty not staff, the bureau of labor statistics would define us as faculty, not staff. The only difference are decisions, most either economic or political, and some based on qualifications that kept us off the tenure track.

  21. As NTT/Terminal Position faculty, my interests are much more closely aligned with those of the Faculty Senate.

  22. have found strong support and feel my voice is heard through both departments that I have been involved with across the ten years I have been on campus. Small details are dealt with by my department chair while larger issues are surfaced at department meetings. I do not find a need for a separate legislative body to hear my concerns. Jeff

  23. Thank you for inquiring about institutional representation of Non-Tenure-Track academic title holders. Am I, a senior lecturer in Arts and Sciences, content with our representation in current University governance structures? In a word, No.
    Since my arrival at Cornell twenty years ago I have been aware that lecturers and other non-tenure track teaching staff fall in between cracks: not quite faculty, but with teaching jobs that more closely resemble faculty than staff. (I know we are designated as staff in HR terms). As your query points out, the employee assembly primarily represents nonacademic staff. As a result, decisions about our working conditions are typically made by other people. If we had seats at the table, we might still be outvoted (or overruled), but we would, at least, have a voice.
    Moreover, our particular positions may allow us to bring perspectives that would be different from those espoused by either tenure stream faculty or non-academic staff.
    I am grateful that Arts & Sciences has made significant strides in recent years towards include lecturers on some policy making committees that shape our jobs rather than assuming our interests and concerns could be fully represented by professors.
    While I am under no illusions that greater representation will solve all problems related to our in-between status, I think that formal representation in governance structures both at the level of individual colleges and the university would be desirable.

    Elliot Shapiro, Knight Institute, A&S

  24. I would think that faculty, tenure track or not, would be represented via the faculty senate. However, it may make sense that temporary faculty (e.g. those on short-term appointments, or “guests” of various sorts) may have non-voting membership.

  25. I think it would be great to have NTT representation at the faculty senate. In our department/college, there is a huge gender disparity between TT and NTT, which makes this an equity issue. It is important for NTT faculty to have voting rights and not just be stuck with appointments to time-intensive committees.

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