Five faculty council members presented information on the upcoming non-tenure-track faculty vote at Tuesday's general faculty meeting.
If passed, the vote would move forward a motion to change the definition of faculty to include NTT professionals, giving NTT faculty the right to vote on campus-wide issues. MU Institutional Research currently identifies 36 percent of full-time assistant, associate professors and full professors as NTT faculty.
Associate professor of journalism Clyde Bentley told the audience that NTT equality is long overdue.
“Why (NTT faculty) are different from someone who has a designated tenure track, I’m not quite sure,” Bentley said.
He said his experience with the NTT issue started with his first faculty council meeting when he learned that a well-renowned professor wasn’t allowed to vote in campus issues. He didn’t understand why such a professor wasn’t allowed to participate. It still seems unfair, Bentley said.
Nicole Monnier, director of undergraduate studies in Russian and an NTT faculty member, said that “we (NTT faculty) are everywhere.” She said there are NTT faculty who have been at MU for more than 20 years. She said there are colleges, including the school of journalism, who are a majority of NTT faculty. She said they serve on various committees.
“We are everywhere at the department level, at the college level, at the campus level, at the university level,” Monnier said.
Professor of Mathematics Stephen Montgomery-Smith, who said he was for the NTT vote, said he had one reservation with the motion.
“My major source of ambivalence is the job protection of the NTT faculty in that there’s a fear expressed by many people, including myself, that those people with NTT status may be pushed apart by people over them,” Montgomery-Smith said.
Contract length for NTT faculty members has also been a concern for many, Monnier said. She said another concern is that NTTs are a threat to faculty authority, and some think NTT’s are “somehow less committed.”
Associate professor of journalism Katherine Reed, who also serves on the academic affairs committee, said it would send out a negative message if the vote was turned down. It would make for a bad headline, Reed said.
“Really the headline I dread seeing after that March 4 vote before my students (is) 'Tenured and tenured track faculty vote against NTT voting rights,'” Reed said. “It bothers me.”
Faculty can vote from March 4 to March 8. If the motion is approved, it will become a proposed change to the bylaw system and the UM Board of Curators will act upon the request at its conference from April 11 to 12.