College Committees – Faculty Affairs – End of Year Report
Report of the Behrend Committee for Faculty Affairs for the 2022- 2023 Academic Year.
Eric Robbins, Chair (BUS); Jeff Coy (BUS); Luciana Aronne (SCI); Daniell DiFrancesca (HSS); Kyeiwaa Asare-Yeboah (ENG); Lena Harned Surzhko (HSS); David Beevers (ENG); Samuel Nutile (SCI).
A Faculty Affairs Committee to advise the Council and administration on matters of policy concerning faculty affairs, on matters regarding the cultural, social, and material welfare of the faculty, and on matters affecting the educational environment in which the faculty work. Among the policy matters of concern to the Committee on Faculty Affairs are the following: faculty appointments, leaves, salaries and fringe benefits, and "rights and responsibilities." The Committee makes recommendations for the modification of existing policies and assists the College administration in the formulation of new policies and related matters. From each school within the College, one Fixed Term and one Tenure Track faculty member shall be elected to this committee.
November 2: The committee met to discuss the original charges as presented to us by Faculty Council. We made notations on the original charges, reworded two charges, and formed new recommended charges. We reviewed the charges in MS Teams until December 1.
Subgroups worked on an as-needed basis on the revised charges that we thought were finalized on December 8.
February 24: Sharon arranged a meeting for Faculty Affairs for updates on our revised charges. Just prior to this meeting, we learned that she was taking medical leave. We kept the Zoom meeting to keep everyone working on our charges while the matter of a replacement chair was addressed.
We conducted an email review of the charges and this end-of-year report in lieu of formally meeting since everyone’s schedules are busy at the end of the semester.
Investigate the standard percentage for promotional raises at each level of promotion across comparable Penn State campuses while being attentive to the circumstances which may have influenced the campus’s decisions.
Progress with Charge 1: For the past several years, the Senate Committee on Intra-University Relations and Faculty Affairs has been producing a report on the promotion statistics for NTL faculty across the Commonwealth. This report indicates that upon promotion, NTL faculty at Commonwealth Campuses receive raises from 3% to 8% (3% only occurred for a couple of faculty members in a single year), with an average of approximately 7% and a median of 8%. This indicates that more than half of NTL promotions are accompanied by a raise of 8%. Further analysis of the data indicates that it is likely that somewhere from 65% - 75% of NTL promotions are accompanied by a salary increase of 8%, while the remainder receive 4% - 6% raises. It has been Behrend’s policy for some time to give promoted NTL faculty a raise of only 4%. This raises serious equity concerns regarding the treatment of NTL faculty at Behrend. As nearly half of Behrend’s faculty are NTL, this is an important issue to address. Please see Appendix A for supporting data.
A Faculty Affairs subcommittee (David Beevers and Eric Robbins) met with Bill Samluk, Kim Paris, Ken Miller, and Pam Silver to ask about why Behrend’s NTL promotion raises are so far below the mean for all Commonwealth Campuses. The key findings were that Behrend is careful to only use recurring funding to pay for recurring expenses like salaries and raises, and that the 4% promotion raise has been standard at Behrend for many years. While the care to use only recurring funding to ensure employee security is laudable, this policy ensures that TT faculty’s salaries grow at a faster rate than NTL faculty. It is the opinion of Faculty Affairs that until and unless University Park changes its policies regarding promotion funding, it is the responsibility of Behrend’s leadership to ensure that our NTL and TT faculty are treated equitably.
We offer the following proposal:
- It is recommended that the GSI (general salary increase) from UP be divided initially into two pools. One for faculty (NTL & TT) and one for support staff. These pools would be handled separately. For the faculty GSI pool, an initial distribution would be made to address faculty salary equity adjustments and NTL promotions. Then, whatever is left would be distributed among all of the faculty. In this way, no additional funding would need to be taken from other areas of the budget to fund promotions. Some additional details and discussion of this recommendation are available in Appendix A.
- Finally, it is recommended that all NTL faculty who have received a promotion in the past receive an equity adjustment of 4% per promotion. This should likely also be funded by the annual GSI. While this will significantly impact the GSI pool for faculty, we believe that this is a necessary and overdue correction. If doing so all at once is impossible, then a plan should be made to accomplish this as quickly as possible. We recommend that Faculty Senate and/or Faculty Affairs continue to look into this potential equity issue next academic year and consider how to correct this inequity for previously promoted NTL faculty.
Investigate faculty workload (teaching, research, and service) to learn about faculty awareness of their workload percentages; transparency of expectations for teaching, research, and service to meet expectations as well as define what is considered exceeding expectations; and awareness/ability about how to reasonably allot time to meet expectations.
Progress with Charge 2: A Faculty Affairs subcommittee (Jeff Coy and Samuel Nutile) surveyed members of the administration in all four schools to assess workload and expectations for faculty. Our findings are detailed in Appendix B. We find the credit hour expectations to be consistent across all four schools for both TT and NTL faculty. We also find the expectations mix between teaching, research, and service to be consistent across all four schools for both TT and NTL faculty. We find inconsistency in the number of students taught in sections for 100 and 200-level courses between the four schools. Faculty may benefit from some consideration on the impact of the number of students per section on workload allocation. We also find inconsistency in the way in which faculty expectations are measured. Some schools use a quantitative approach while others use a qualitative approach. This creates confusion for faculty in the subjective elements of the evaluation process. We are recommending that school directors either consider ways to make their faculty evaluation methods quantitative to remove subjective elements, which may serve as demotivators, or more clearly communicate the basis for qualitative evaluation. It appears that all four schools do a good job of considering the value of service and communicating expectations to faculty. There are some elements of research expectations that are unclear for faculty. We recommend that the school directors consider policy revisions to better clarify research expectations for annual reviews. After evaluating evidence from all four schools, it is unclear how the schools reward and incentivize “excellent” behavior as opposed to “very good”. We recommend that each school director consider ways to better articulate this for the benefit of faculty.
Create an ad hoc committee of NTL faculty to review and propose revisions to BCF 10 – Promotion Policy for No-Term and Non-Tenure-Line Faculty.
Progress with Charge 3: A Faculty Affairs subcommittee (Luciana Aronne, Sharon Gallagher – the Faculty Affairs Chair for most of the academic year -, and Lena Harned Surzhko) worked on several recommended revisions. However, in consultation with Faculty Senate leadership and Behrend administration, we feel that this charge deserves a more comprehensive review. We are recommending, in fall 2023, that Faculty Senate should hold two listening sessions led by Luciana Aronne who will still be a member of Faculty Affairs. These listening sessions should only be composed of faculty. The intention is to gather concerns that faculty have with BCF 10. After the listening sessions, we recommend that the Faculty Senate Chair should then charge an ad hoc committee comprised of members of both administration and faculty to discuss ways to adequately address these concerns. It is recommended that Sharon Gallagher and Luciana Aronne serve as part of the faculty contingent given the work they have already done on these revisions this past academic year. Please see Appendix C for more detail on the history of this charge. This charge should continue into academic year 2023-24.
Evaluate faculty perceptions of the method of distributing GSIs for last academic year. The specific consideration is the fact that merit was not considered, and all faculty received the exact same increase regardless of merit. The question is whether this system creates a disincentive for faculty to strive for excellence in their annual review. In other words, is there any incentive for faculty to strive for excellence other than intrinsic motivation.
Progress with Charge 4: A Faculty Affairs subcommittee (Eric Robbins, Kyeiwaa Asare-Yeboah, and Daniell DiFrancesca) surveyed faculty to understand their perceptions of the non-merit based GSI increase done for academic year 2021/2022. We understand that this non-merit based GSI award was done at the university level and not exclusively by Behrend. We find that 68.3% of faculty prefer merit-based GSI increases. For the majority of faculty there was no impact on their focus to provide outstanding teaching experiences. However, there was some impact on the desire to conduct service and research. We recommend that if the University decides to apply non-merit based GSI increases in the future, and Behrend administration has the opportunity to suggest alternatives, that this data be considered in the process. In this survey, we also considered the annual review process across all four schools. Some schools have a process that is more objective, while others have processes that are either subjective or mixed (both objective and subjective). This confirms the findings from Charge 2 that the school directors may want to consider ways to quantify their annual review processes to better communicate expectations to faculty. Finally, the survey considered the impact of workload. The largest negative impacts of workload are on research and service. A summary of the survey results (including tables) can be seen in Appendix D.
Create a faculty survey about issues for Faculty Affairs to investigate in the upcoming academic year which includes past charges summaries to inform the faculty and avoid duplication of past charges.
Progress with Charge 5: We incorporated this charge in the survey from Charge 4. We found many interesting suggestions for future areas that may require a charge from Faculty Affairs or Faculty Senate. The full list is summarized in Appendix D. The most promising topics include: evaluating and managing the student advising function; workload flexibility options; ways to address faculty burn out; ways to acknowledge and validate excellence in faculty; potential sabbatical for NTL faculty; and the potential to adjust teaching/research expectations for NTL faculty depending on their desires to pursue research efforts.
At the beginning of the academic year, we were given several charges by the chair of Faculty Senate. Below are those charges (labeled as “original” charges) along with our comments on each. In consultation with Faculty Council, the preceding five (5) charges were officially assigned to Faculty Affairs.
Original Charge 2:
“Our committee is concerned about the implications of recent budget cuts to hiring and contract renewals, particularly when it comes to NTL faculty. We feel that this issue should also be addressed during the first Behrend Faculty Senate meeting, and we would like to request transparent information about the 2023-2024 budget.”
Progress with Original Charge 2: This charge is carried over from the end-of-year report from Faculty Affairs last year. To our awareness, this original charge has already been addressed by the University. While contracts will still be issued in April, the University will provide letters of intent in February to all NTL faculty who will receive a contract renewal. Letters are legally binding so if a faculty member receives a letter (or email) of intent, then they should expect a contract. One recommendation is that the timeline be accelerated earlier than February to allow more time for a job search if that is necessary for NTL faculty whose contracts are not being renewed. This charge from Faculty Senate is deemed to be concluded.
Original Charge 3:
“Investigate the prevalence of faculty being penalized in their evaluations for the courses that they are teaching but have not designed.”
Progress with Original Charge 3: This charge has not been addressed because the context of the charge seems to stem from an individual, specific concern. It is unclear if “evaluations” mean SRTEs, annual reviews, promotional reviews, extended reviews, or a combination of the above. Being “penalized” is also unclear. The committee recommendation is that individual concerns should be addressed to the program chair, school director, or campus ombudsperson. From the perspective of promotion, any non-standard events can be discussed in their narrative statement for the benefit of evaluating committees. This charge from Faculty Senate is deemed to be concluded.
Original Charge 4:
“Investigate Behrend policy for paying faculty for summer teaching. The specific concern is varying policies between schools.”
Progress with Original Charge 4: Kim Paris confirmed that faculty summer teaching is covered by BCF23 and standardized at the Behrend-level. Kim copied Pam Silver to confirm this, which she did. Pam also mentioned that summer pay is centrally controlled and not under the purview of Faculty Council. This charge from Faculty Senate is deemed to be concluded.
Original Charge 5:
Ask for a yearly report from NTT and TT promotion committees on the number of applications, the number of recommended promotions, with a breakdown by gender.
Progress with Original Charge 5: Faculty Affairs looked into this question previously. Please see the end-of-year report from 2021/22. Some information was unavailable, and some had a small sample size which led to issues of confidentiality. This charge from Faculty Senate is deemed to be concluded.
Original Charge 6:
Investigate whether there is a program chair handbook with recommended guidelines.
Progress with Original Charge 6: On March 21, 2023, Lisa Jo Elliot informed Eric Robbins that she had recently located a handbook in the archives. This charge from Faculty Senate is deemed to be concluded.
Original Charge 7:
“How small is too small for a program to function in terms of service? When should programs share service duties with other programs? 1-2 full time members? 3-4? Can we make a recommendation that will help faculty in small departments?”
Progress with Original Charge 7: The intention of this charge is not clear. More clarification and specific examples of a program that is too small would be helpful. We have not worked on this charge. This charge from Faculty Senate is deemed to be concluded.