5. NTT Faculty at Boston University—Composition, Work Satisfaction, Open Issues
Faculty Composition on the Charles River Campus2
Non-tenure-track faculty at Boston University’s Charles River Campus (CRC) constitute 38.7% of all faculty and hold standard, clinical, and research professorial titles (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor without or with the Clinical and Research modifier), as well as lecturer titles (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Master Lecturer) (C1, C3, below). Female faculty account for 45.5% of all NTT faculty. Nationally, the majority of NTT faculty are female. Within Boston University, the gender composition of NTT faculty is similar to that of tenure-track faculty, where 43.8% are female, and more balanced than the composition of tenured faculty, where 23.8% are female (Appendix C2).
The average years of service of NTT faculty is 10.5 years, less than four years shorter than the average 13.9 years for all faculty (C4, below).Considering that NTT faculty typically hold 1–3-year contracts and renewal is based on successful performance, the number of NTT faculty and their length of employment is a strong indication of the high quality of NTT faculty and their loyalty to Boston University. Length of service is shown broken down by title in C4.It is notable that Clinical faculty at the Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor rank average 16.3, 16.4, and 7.6 years of service, and Master and Senior Lecturers 14.4 and 16.5 years of service, respectively. Most importantly, these figures speak to the significant impact of NTT faculty on the education of our students—only 8.8% of NTT hold research appointments, while the remaining 91.2% focus on teaching.
The percentage of NTT appointments is highest in MET and SHA (100% each), followed by CFA (85.9%), COM (82.4%), SAR (60.7%), SED (55.8%), and CGS (39.2%) (C5, below). In terms of absolute numbers, though, CAS is far in the lead with 181, predominantly with Lecturer titles, followed by CFA with 79 and COM with 56 NTT faculty, most with standard professorial titles (C6, below). The distribution by rank and title for the individual colleges, listed by decreasing numbers of NTT faculty, is shown in Appendices C7–C20.
BU Faculty Climate Survey—Differences and Similarities between NTT and T/TT Faculty Perceptions
To gain a better understanding of faculty attitudes, their level of satisfaction with working at BU, and how NTT and T/TT faculty differ in their perceptions and in the challenges they encounter, the Task Force reviewed the report of the Council on Faculty Diversity and Inclusion (Boston University ) and the data from the Faculty Climate Survey, focusing specifically on the contrasting NTT and T/TT faculty responses.
Overall satisfaction is higher for NTT than for T/TT faculty (3.83 vs. 3.54), although the difference is not statistically significant (B1, below).
Satisfaction with salary, start-up funds, and contract length is lower for NTT than for T/TT (B1). The difference in satisfaction level for contract length is, not surprisingly, statistically significant (2.89 NTT vs. 4.39 T/TT), as it stems from the very nature of the appointment and from the fact that initial appointments are often for one year. The difference in satisfaction with salary (2.49 NTT vs. 2.78 T/TT) correlates with the differences in rank—most NTT faculty are at the Lecturer and Assistant Professor (Clinical, Research, or standard) ranks. The difference in start-up funds reflects the emphasis on teaching and clinical work in the majority of NTT appointments, which rarely include start-up funds for research (B1).
Satisfaction with faculty work was assessed through the questions about teaching, access to teaching assistants, advising, quality of graduate assistants and students in professional programs, access to students for research, time for scholarly work, intellectual stimulation, and committee/administrative responsibility (B2, below). There were no statistically significant differences between NTT and T/TT in these categories.
NTT and T/TT faculty showed few differences in their Satisfaction with Resources and Support and Physical Space (Appendices B3 and B4). Among responses to the 11 questions assessing these categories, only two showed statistically significant differences: NTT faculty were more satisfied with library resources and less satisfied with support for securing grants. For the remaining questions NTT rated clerical and computing support higher and office and classroom space lower than T/TT.
Statistically significant differences in Sources of Stress (B5, below) align with differences in job responsibilities: T/TT faculty found managing research groups and securing research funding more stressful, while NTT pointed to clinical responsibilities as a greater source of stress.
Climate and Opportunities. NTT find that their colleagues value their teaching, clinical work, and service more highly than their research and scholarly work; the difference was statistically significant for the appreciation of research and scholarship (Appendix B6).
NTT and T/TT faculty were remarkably similar in their perception of opportunities for collaboration, work on committees, support from department and college leadership, participation in decision making, attitudes toward women and minorities, and sense of inclusion (Appendix B7–B12). Some differences are worth mentioning, not because they are statistically significant, but because they appear across several questions: NTT faculty were less satisfied with opportunities for collaboration, service on important committees, and administrative responsibilities (Appendix B7) but ranked the backing they receive from their chairs and deans higher than T/TT had ranked similar support (Appendix B8). At the same time, NTT were less confident that they have a voice in departmental decision making (Appendix B9). NTT and T/TT faculty had similar levels of comfort with their department and colleagues, but NTT faculty were more likely to feel their department is a good fit and were more comfortable raising personal/family issues in their department (Appendix B10). They also felt that they need to work harder to be recognized as a legitimate scholar. The perception of opportunities for women and minorities and the sense of inclusion in the department, college/school, and the University were similar for NTT and T/TT (Appendix B11 and B12). However, NTT were more likely to say that they would come to BU again if given the choice (3.95 NTT vs. 3.68 T/TT).
There are notable differences in NTT and T/TT perceptions about the promotion process and criteria (B13, below). NTT felt by a statistically significant margin that the criteria for promotion are not clearly communicated and that clinical work is not appropriately valued. Compared to T/TT they also felt more strongly that research is overvalued while teaching clinical work and services is undervalued.
Interpreting NTT faculty attitudes based on the survey data and contrasting them with T/TT faculty responses results in a number of apparent contradictions: NTT faculty are overall more satisfied, and they are more likely to say they would choose to become a BU faculty member again if given the choice. At the same time, they are less satisfied with such basic aspects of their appointment and work as salary and contract length, intellectual stimulation, time for scholarly work, respect for their teaching, clinical and service contributions, reasonableness of workload, and clarity and appropriateness of promotion criteria. NTT faculty also feel that although they receive more support from the chairs and deans, they are less confident that they have a voice in departmental decision making.
From the point of view of what NTT faculty value and aspire to, the trend is remarkably consistent: There is a pride in being affiliated with a leading research university and a desire to see one’s work more fully supported and recognized.
Both survey data and discussions with NTT faculty members pointed to the same areas of concern, and these became the focus of the NTT Task Force—job security, the appreciation of NTT faculty work, specifically teaching, clinical work, and applied scholarship, opportunities for promotion, institutional support.
The Task Force believes that, even as the role of research is bound to grow, the above issues can be addressed and resolved to the benefit of the faculty and University. The solution is not to reduce the University’s strong emphasis on research for those ranks and titles that highlight research as a major part of the promotion triad. Rather, in formulating a career ladder for the University’s teaching faculty, we can better recognize the great contributions NTT faculty provide through their teaching, clinical work, and service, as well as in their scholarship, applied research, pedagogical contributions, and leadership in curriculum development. This acknowledgement and support will validate NTT faculty’s role in complementing research with the many ways they bring research into their classrooms, by mentoring, instructing, and encouraging students to value and to involve themselves in the research experience across all disciplines. The influential Boyer Commission Report (1998, 2001) called for making research-based learning the standard in an integrated and interdisciplinary learning experience. Boston University has actively promoted these goals through the Center for Excellence & Innovation in Teaching and the recently created position of Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. Given the large percentage of teaching faculty with Non-Tenure-Track appointments, continued support of our NTT faculty is imperative if we are to enhance the integration of research and teaching.
The Task Force is also aware that devising and implementing a faculty development program for NTT faculty requires additional funding—not a trivial consideration in the current complex financial situation. We believe, however, that such an endeavor will provide a long-range benefit to the University and that it can be systematically phased in with minimal burden on the budget and within the budgetary/fiscal constraints.
2. All data in this section refer to full-time or 75% FTE at the Charles River Campus.