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Non-tenure track faculty eligible for promotion can apply this year

Earlier this year, they said that something had to give. Something did.

All eligible non-tenure track faculty at Colorado State University can apply for a promotion starting this 2019-20 school year. This marks another significant step in changing the classifications and prospects of NTTF appointments at the University. 

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people holding signs talk
A faculty member who wished to be anonymous (middle) speaks with Dani Castillo (left) and Kim Spencer (right) while protesting outside of the Administration Building May 13. Faculty members were protesting for higher wages and better job security. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

Over 285 NTTF are eligible to apply for promotions this fall, according to Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Daniel Bush. CSU typically processes about 70 to 90 tenure track or tenure promotions per year, so if all NTTF take this opportunity to apply this year, the University will be tasked with processing over four times as many applications as they are accustomed to by next spring. 

New University President Joyce McConnell noted in an email that this increase would put pressure on the chairs, colleges and the University. As such, CSU will convene a campus-wide committee to guide and assist the process.

McConnell wrote that the committee will create structures to support faculty, their department chairs and deans to understand the promotion process for NTTF and “operationalize it to be efficient and fair.”

Members will be composed of representatives from the Provost’s Office, Faculty Council, department chairs, Human Resources, Internal Communications and representatives for NTTF and TTF. 

“To do this effectively and fairly, we must all agree to work together to be successful,” McConnell wrote. 

Prior to the changes revealed this spring, many NTTF could not access any promotional pathways, typically because of degree requirements or college codes. That means there are NTTF members who worked at CSU for over a decade and were never promoted, said Jenny Morse, chair of the committee for NTTF.

This was a problem for both career fulfillment and salary compensation (promotions come with a 10% raise). NTTF have been vocal about their insufficient wages, most recently with a petition and protest last semester. 

Around 2013, CSU created a “senior teaching appointment” to recognize outstanding NTTF, but despite a rigorous review process, this was not a “true” promotion. It could come with a 5% raise, but few did, Bush said. The College of Liberal Arts used the STA type most frequently, but it was not used commonly by all colleges. 

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New promotional paths and appointment types, fully written into department codes this spring, opened up promotional pathways for the nearly 300 NTTF who have been at CSU for at least five years.  As this is a large number, there was talk of accepting promotion packages in phases (i.e. one group of NTTF can apply the first year, then another group the next, etc.). 

Morse said this was a serious problem for NTTF who did not want to see their opportunity continually delayed and were not sure of what criteria the Provost’s Office intended to use to decide who could apply first. 

Ultimately, after close consultation with the academic leadership of CSU, President McConnell wrote that they determined it is in the University’s best interest to allow everyone who meets the five-year in-rank requirement to apply this year. 

While there are downsides to taking in that many promotions, McConnell noted there is “clearly an upside to having all non-tenure-track faculty be eligible simultaneously, as this contributes to (the) retention of our talented non-tenure-track faculty, greater stability for the University and — most importantly — an improved learning experience for our students.”

The promotion process will be parallel to what tenure track faculty go through for their promotions, meaning submission of promotion package material in fall and an extensive review and recommendation process. Certain details will still vary, as NTTF appointments focus on only teaching or research while TTF are expected to do both. 

To do this effectively and fairly, we must all agree to work together to be successful.” -Joyce McConnell, Colorado State University President

NTTF promotions will come with 10% pay raises, just as TTF, and it will be based on the new salary floor, also unveiled this spring. The floor is $45,000 this fiscal year for NTTF with terminal degrees. 

STAs were automatically given the 10% raise August 2019 and moved into the new rank of senior instructor. STAs who previously received a 5% raise received just a 5% raise to make it a net 10% increase. The STA position no longer exists, but CSU wants to honor its STA application process as comparable to an approved promotion, Bush said. 

The cost of promoting all eligible NTTF will be somewhere around $1.75 million, Bush said. 

The University, along with the new support committee for the promotions, will hold a series of Campus Conversations this fall about its decision.

“This is an opportunity for us as a University to stack hands to commit to working together,” McConnell wrote. “We may make mistakes along the way, but they will be mistakes made with goodwill as we try to navigate a daunting but ultimately extremely rewarding challenge.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.

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