The Faculty Senate approved a college proposal to change the title of instructor, used for non-tenure-track and non-tenured faculty, to offer more stability and flexibility of terminology.
Dr. Greg Straughn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, authored the proposal to remove the current rank of instructor and replace it with the rank of college faculty. This would expand the ability to offer different levels of engagement with non-tenure track faculty, as well as offering colleges the ability to create titles attractive to potential applicants.
Currently, almost all instructors are on one-year contracts, but the proposal allows for multiple-year contracts and an opportunity for advancement through a tiered system.
Tenure-track and tenure ranks are assistant professor, associate professor and full professor. Tenure provides faculty members with long-term contracts to encourage stability in the teaching ranks and to encourage professors to pursue their own fields of interest.
“There are lots of different situations where we might want to have something other than that ‘instructor,'” Straughn said. “For example, a professor of practice, an assistant librarian, an artist-in-residence. We’ve used some of those terms, but we’ve never really tried to bind them up into a cohesive whole. It gives us overall adaptability within that framework, and I think that’ll be helpful for us.”
Instructors now make up about 20 percent of the university faculty. Although this percentage has increased over time, Straughn said it is inverse to most other university. Other universities in more urban areas have two non-tenured faculty for every one tenured faculty, ACU has about three tenured faculty per every one non-tenured faculty.
“That’s a characteristic I think is a strength of ACU,” Straughn said. “Our chance to offer the curriculum with full-time faculty that are here, that are tenured or permanently degreed is exceptional, and we are proud of that.”
Overall, Straughn said the proposal offers different colleges the ability to hire new faculty with more specific titles. The future question will be whether or not the “instructor” title will remain.