CSU NTTF find advancement close to home at CU Boulder

Serena Bettis

Colorado State University’s non-tenure track faculty are asking for their voices to be heard more across campus, as explained in a five-part Collegian article series.

CSU’s College of Liberal Arts NTTF Advisory Committee invited Rolf Norgaard, a teaching professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, to speak as part of Campus Equity Week Oct. 23. An NTTF for 34 years, Norgaard explained the struggles and successes of NTTF at CU Boulder, giving CSU NTTF inspiration in their own fight for a stronger voice on campus. 


“I knew CU had made important progress concerning their non-tenure track, and I was curious to see what they had achieved, how they went about it, the struggles they still have and plans they have moving forward,” said Kristin Heineman, an NTTF serving in her first year on the advisory committee.

Norgaard took attendees through the advancements of NTTF status at CU Boulder, describing the terminology used on campus, the reasons behind it and the challenges still faced there. 

CU Boulder now considers all full time faculty as “core faculty,” with subcategories inside that term to distinguish TTF and NTTF. Norgaard said this gives NTTF a rational understanding of their role in the academic landscape.

“The term ‘non-tenure-track faculty’ is a position of negativity, of absence, of deficiency, all those things,” Norgaard said. “I don’t think we’re well-served. Both are core faculty. We have different responsibilities, different sorts of roles. Both are important. We need each other. There’s a partnership, and we’re in it together.”

Norgaard said NTTF not only want to demonstrate the importance of their teaching contributions but to prove they are vital members of the campus community who provide many services to their students. 

To Norgaard, service is more than just “keeping a seat warm” on a committee. It requires serious commitment to running labs and study groups, mentoring young faculty and interacting with the community. He said these elements are absolutely essential to teaching.

There’s definitely a lot more room for growth, but it was encouraging to see similar struggles with some success so close by.” -Kristin Heineman, NTTF Advisory Committee member

“It is about engaging the educational mission of the campus in a full way,” Norgaard said. “That’s the only place where (service) can possibly get recognized.”

This is something CSU NTTF are working to change. 

“We first were just kind of considered temps and not really part of the CSU community,” said Pamela Duncan, an NTTF who has been with the department of political science at CSU for 12 years. “That goes back decades. As more and more classes are being taught by people like us, and we account for so many of the credit hours being taught and are such a big percentage of faculty, that old model just doesn’t fly anymore.”

Starting this year, NTTF have more of a voice at CSU thanks to voting rights in faculty governance. 


“Tenure-track faculty have a voice on campus in terms of things like what the faculty manual is going to look like, what the department codes are going to look like, requirements for tenure and promotion, hiring positions,” Duncan said. “Until very recently, the NTTF have not had that.”

However, NTTF do not have a say in certain discussions, such as voting to promote a TTF. Norgaard said NTTF at CU Boulder have had faculty voting rights for 20 years, which surprised many NTTF at CSU. 

By sharing how the NTTF at CU Boulder achieved these sorts of advancements, CSU NTTF have a better understanding of how they could follow, Heineman said. 

“The success that we had are significant, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Heineman said. “There’s definitely a lot more room for growth, but it was encouraging to see similar struggles with some success so close by.”

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb