August 28, 2019

Career path established for continuing lecturers

Purdue is rolling out a new career and review path for its continuing lecturers this fall.

Two years in the making, the new promotion system offers a more appropriate job title, a promotion path, as well as establishing a review process. The Office of the Provost has offered guidelines, says Peter Hollenbeck, vice provost for faculty affairs, while specifics have been hammered out by academic units.

Each continuing lecturer will be known as either a lecturer or a senior lecturer, based on important considerations such as professional experience and whether they are supervising graduate teaching assistants or other lecturers.

"We passed the policy in May, and the academic units were then responsible for filling in the details and deciding where each existing continuing lecturer should be placed," Hollenbeck says. "Then it was up to Purdue Human Resources to determine pay bands for each position."

The new guidelines say each individual's performance and achievements should be reviewed at least every five years. Academic units are asked to consider what should constitute a standard workload.

"An individual lecturer, for example, might have four relatively small sections that are fundamentally the same. Another might have huge lecture halls of students or dozens of lab sections for which they are responsible," Hollenbeck says. "Departments will need to consider this when setting those workload standards."

Hollenbeck says his office will continue to seek feedback through surveys and focus groups; so far, responses have been positive.

Former Provost Robert L. Ringel created the continuing lecturer position more than 20 years ago. At that time, Purdue hired only limited-term lecturers who were part-time with no benefits. Continuing lecturers, on the other hand, can work full-time and have full benefits. They are not, however, eligible for tenure or sabbatical leave.

Since the position was created, the number of continuing lecturers has been limited by policy to 10 percent of the tenure/tenure-track faculty on each campus, about 228 full-time equivalent — or FTE — employees at Purdue West Lafayette last year.

"We've been right up against the cap for a while," Hollenbeck says. "We were down to single digit FTEs to distribute on campus last year, in part because of the growth in online education. That limits our flexibility. For example, if we had an unanticipated increase in freshman enrollment, and therefore needed more sections in COM 114 (Fundamentals of Speech Communication), we need permission to meet that demand."

The cap has now been raised to 15 percent.

"That doesn't mean we will use all of that, but it gives us much needed room to respond where and when needed," he says. "At 10 percent, our fraction of tenure-track faculty was  the third best in the country, so even with this increase we will continue to be at the top end of the scale, especially compared to some of our peers."

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