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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. I am very pleased that this issue is receiving some attention here. I would like to strongly advocate in favor of instating a new assembly to represent non tenure-track academics specifically.
    NTTA’s are a critical part of the lifeblood of the University, yet are one of the least represented. There are numerous issues that affect this group of employees specifically that will not recieve sufficent attention in an employee assembly in which they are in a small minority.
    This lack of representation stands in stark contrast to the fact that this is also one of the most vulnerable groups of employees in terms of job security. For example, many academics who are dependent on sponsored programs are not even permitted under current administration to seek further funding for their ongoing work (because time spent on proposals is not permitted to be funded by the existing sponsored programs that support them). Issues such as this, and surely many more, definitely warrant a dedicated assembly.

  2. The one thing I would say about representation is that the university doesn’t make especially clear what body actually represents me (I am a research associate). I get emails asking for feedback about issues, and to apply for positions, in both the Faculty Senate and EA. If I’d had to guess before reading this message, I would have guessed that I was represented by the Senate. Since I get messages from both, I assume that whoever assembles the message lists for those groups does not seem to know where academic staff go, either. This may be why non-tenure track academic staff are under-represented.

  3. Thank you for asking this question. I have been at Cornell in a NTT academic line since 2003 (was a doctoral student here from 97-2003) and have a lot of thoughts about this. On the one hand, I am exceptionally grateful that I was able to make things work for myself here since I birthed both of my children in Ithaca and had a husband who was faculty here. I did not want to tear my family away from Ithaca so I could have a more robust and secure professional experience. I have been able to make things work and I am glad that Cornell was available and receptive. At the same time, I cannot say that I feel represented or seen at the institutional level in any meaningful way. I have given a huge chunk of my best professional academic years to Cornell (with benefits, I believe, to Cornell, as well) and I struggle with knowing that any professional advancement has been and remains largely impossible. For me, there is no better title, no raise, no earned security to look toward. Success each year means that I can remain self-funded here. Meanwhile, I face entering the job market, now that my children are nearly grown, as a past prime candidate. It is frustrating and I do wish that there were other options, something that would at least be up for possible discussion if there were real representation of NTT academics. I am not sure there is any viable remedy for those of us in this situation, but I do agree that having an opportunity to constructively learn from and discuss issues unique to NTT would be really helpful.

  4. As a librarian I find my concerns are much more closely aligned with those of faculty than those of non-academic staff. The issues pertaining to student experience as well as those that impact how faculty go about their work are highly relevant. For those reasons I think it makes sense for there to be representation/participation through the Faculty Senate. I think a new assembly would be overkill.
    Thank you for asking.

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

  6. Since I, as an adjunct, have no real voice in how things work at Cornell, and am unable to participate in many programs open to tenure-track faculty, I try not to be involved in these higher level matters. Also, powers that be tend to become unhappy when non-tenure track faculty voice opinions that may run counter to theirs, which may affect whether or not we are rehired. Best to stay silent (Hmm, kind of sounds like what’s been coming out about Hollywood).

  7. I have no idea who represents me or how. Nor do I know which issues I am able influence. As far as I can tell there is no infrastructure whatsoever for advertising issues to postdocs or representing us in governing bodies. In the sense that any system should at a minimum make its mechanisms visible to the people it represents, the current approach needs some work.

  8. Faculty are FACULTY, whether tenure or non-tenure track and should be represented equally in the faculty senate.
    It is time that we stop being treated as second class citizens in a majority of academic departments across campus.

  9. I am retired and now working part time at Cornell. I do not have any personal interest in representation at this point in my career. However, I feel strongly that NTT teaching staff should have representation on the faculty senate. Then their voice can be heard on the academic matters and policies that are often very relevant to their role and experience.

  10. I agree with others in that we are not appropriately represented in the current senate structure. I would be interested in any continued discussion on what a new form of representation might look like.

  11. Thank you for raising this issue.

    We NTTF (by which I mean all NTT academics) are not represented adequately in the current structure. A new, separate representative body for NTT wouldn’t adequately represent us either; it could easily be marginalized.

    The issues that concern us overlap considerably with the concerns of professors, so I think the best solution would be to form a newly organized Faculty Senate to replace the current University Faculty Senate. This new Senate would have proportional representation, with the NTT senators elected solely by NTTF. These senators would have full voting rights on all matters except those that exclusively concern the professorial faculty.

  12. I agree that NTT academic staff are not well served by EA: non-academic staff have different condiitions of employment than academic staff and a different set of concerns. Yet HR tries to fit us into the same box and it doesn’t work. Whether FS is the answer or an Academic Staff Assembly may need open discussion. Thank you for reaching out.

  13. I do not think that NTT are adequately represented in the current structure, and that including those faculty in the Faculty Senate would be the best answer.

  14. Thank you for raising this issue and asking for input. I believe that having NTT representation at the faculty senate is a much better option. Roles, responsibilities, and issues of NTT positions are more closely aligned with TT faculty.

  15. Thinking of the four bodies (FS, GPSA, SA, EA) as bins, it seems that Faculty Senate would be the most appropriate bin into which NTT faculty should be placed.

  16. As non-tenure positions are in the charter of the university, we should be part of the senate. I like the idea of proportionality, but it would be better in the long run to find a way to include non-tenure faculty in more of the departmental level activities. Many of the departments do not have even the senior associates at department meetings.

  17. NTT faculty are underrepresented, perhaps even marginalized and should have a more appropriate representation at the faculty senate.

  18. As a lecturer, I consider myself a member of the faculty. The faculty senate feels like the right place for NTT faculty to be represented. Most of the issues the faculty senate takes up are relevant to my position. I agree with other comments that mention the need for proportional representation as opposed to token representation.

  19. Thank you for recognizing this concern and soliciting input. As many have commented, I do not feel well-represented by EA and my role and concerns are much more aligned with the Faculty Senate. I do not, however, feel that I have a place or a voice within the senate. It is frustrating to be in an in-between position and never really know what rights/representation you have or where you fit. It contributes to feelings of alienation and non-engagement in university affairs

  20. As a librarian, I am represented by the Academic Assembly. I note that this is not even mentioned in the listing of groups on this website. This makes me question how effective it is. Employee Assembly is very active, but their concerns are not the same ones I have. Faculty Senate addresses issues that are relevant to librarians and archivists as well. I am very open to a new structure that considers all academic status and can represent my colleagues and me in the supportive manner.

  21. Thank you for asking. No, I do not believe that these current bodies represent me as a NTT academic. I would prefer fewer to be integrated into an academic body instead of having a new body created for this “class” of employee.

  22. Reading these comments, I am struck by how many people are in favor of a separate assembly for NTT faculty. I think I understand where folks are coming from in terms of concern for whether any existing assembly could actually represent NTT faculty. Indeed, the EA best represents non-academic staff and would function even better without academic staff included.
    That being said, I disagree that an additional assembly is the right solution because such an assembly will further divide our labor towards improvement of our working conditions and add an additional layer of bureaucracy to the shared governance process. Ideal representation could take place within the Faculty Senate structure, including proportional representation by voting NTT members of the Senate. This would place us NTT faculty on more equal footing in terms of expressing concerns formally as tenure track faculty. Additionally, it would be excellent if NTT faculty, relevant academic staff, and post-docs could actually sit in the same room as tenured and tenure-track professors to express concerns and paths for improvement that they could then relate back to their own constituencies. Finally, given the Faculty Senate’s charge in the Cornell bylaws to make substantive decisions about academic matters at the university, it makes a lot of sense to have NTT faculty in the room to have those conversations.
    There are serious drawbacks to creating a new assembly, not the least of which is that it would require more NTT labor than shifting our representation to the Faculty Senate–or simply taking advantage of the currently sub-optimal opportunities for representation within the existing EA. Another drawback is that a new assembly further divides power instead of concentrating it in a single assembly.
    A counter-argument to my position is that the Faculty Senate could not represent NTT faculty concerns, in part because tenured and tenure-track faculty have “less than generous” opinions about NTT faculty. But the solution to this problem is to assert the importance of the work of NTT faculty, offer education about the role of NTT faculty on Cornell’s campus, and find tenured allies who can articulate these positions to their colleagues. Alongside this long-term cultural shift, we should also be thinking about the most sustainable long-term solution that enshrines NTT decision-making power, which is NOT the creation of a new assembly, but the expansion of the existing Faculty Senate to include NTT faculty members.

  23. I feel like most of my input comes through my department at faculty meetings. This is where things that affect me are decided. I don’t feel like I have nor need input at the University level.

  24. I echo all of the above comments in feeling that there is no body that seems to have NTT faculty interests at the forefront. Furthermore, women and URMs disproportionately hold this type of appointment. I would love to see NTTs welcomed as faculty and have full representation in the University Faculty Senate. This is becoming more and more important as more of these positions are created.

  25. My thoughts echo many of the statements already provided related to the need for adequate representation at the Faculty Senate; issues with “falling in the cracks” in multiple ways related to research, salary, and privileges in my College and the university; and limits on my productivity and academic freedom solely because of my title. I think it’s time for the university to wake up and recognize the overwhelming number of NTT that are contributing to Cornell’s success and reputation, despite having “title” hurdles placed in front of us.

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