Status Quo, Part 2

Reality #4: There is no coherent or clearly established policy or practice for hiring, firing, evaluating and/or promoting faculty. The Pratt faculty functions within a vacuum of assumption, a void where administrative prerogatives clash with and override, faculty Union initiatives. Chairpersons can hire faculty as visitors without consulting anyone. There is no reason why one cannot be hired as an adjunct other than the fact that the chair now has to check with the Dean. Why? Because implicit in this hiring is the notion that a greater commitment is being made by the department and by instructors themselves. This commitment is manifest in a greater workload. Are Adjuncts guaranteed a greater workload? No, they are not, so why then would you grant a status change if there was not implicit in that action an understanding that one is now "part of the family," proven, and for all intents and purposes, perfectly capable to teach a full-time workload? As stated in Article XXII, sec:22.2a, "prior to the completion of ten semesters of service, faculty members in this category [adjunct] shall make a decision as to whether or not they wish a full-time position." Therein lies or belies the distinction between one class of part-timer and another. It is my view (and I'm perfectly aware that many people I respect vehemently disagree), that not making every reasonable effort to grant adjuncts their requisite workload (up to 75% if so desired) — is to needlessly act in bad faith. The underloading of adjuncts is understood when enrollment is down. The overloading of visitors is permissible when enrollment is up. A practice of hiring more and more visitors when adjuncts are not being granted sufficient workloads is divisive and bad for the morale of ALL part-timers.

The visiting status should either be eliminated altogether, replaced and/or absorbed into a two tier adjunct status, or redefined for what it truly is, an entry level, probationary status. There should be a maximum time period for being a visitor, perhaps "up to three years." If a department wants to limit this time period to one or two years, they would be free to do so. The onus for properly evaluating the visitor should rest squarely with the chairperson. If they cannot properly evaluate a faculty member within three years, they will never be able to. Visitors should be thoroughly briefed about the conditions of their employment, what is required of them and given clear criteria for evaluation. Once the visitor has successfully satisfied the established time of evaluation, he/she shall be granted a change in status and have all of the requisite "rights" and "protections" granted Adjuncts. Visitors should not teach more than fifty percent of the workload for their departments. There are currently no protections in the contract for visiting — a reason that it be used sparingly.

There has been little discussion about the adjunct status other than to say that it is a problematic status in that adjuncts are "harder to get rid of." As noted in Article XXII, adjuncts are to be evaluated every semester. Other than requiring two years of poor evaluations prior to dismissal, there are no other protections in the contract. Benefits include tuition remission — your workload determining the proration of tuition, and being permitted to buy into one of Pratt's group health plans — 100% of the costs borne by the adjunct. There was a time when an adjunct after ten semesters of service would be granted a CCE. This is no longer the case. Teaching up to seventy-five percent of a FT workload and being led to believe that one was on the full-time track, seemed to be the rational for seeking adjunct status in the first place. Now claiming 75% of a workload is seen as a "right" or "guarantee," and therefore a threat to the "vitality" of departments and the freedom of chairs to distribute courses and hire as they see fit.

Full time positions are filled only after a full-time "line" is approved by the Provost and Dean, a national search is announced, an Institute wide committee formed, and the department chair chooses a candidate from a list of three recommendations made by the committee. In the name of DIVERSITY, this is the current practice. National or Institute-wide searches function completely outside of the contract. One cannot file a grievance based on what they might feel was arbitrary and capricious behavior. Truth be told, there is nothing that prevents the Administration from going directly to the department chairs and allowing them to fill an approved full-time position. The days of granting Adjuncts with CCE ("Full-timers in waiting") the next full-time position are over. I don't believe that it is just a coincidence, that as CCE was gutted, the misuse of visiting status became endemic and pervasive.

However, the one area the faculty does have a say in regarding the promotion and advancement of the faculty is in what is referred to as the P.A.R.T. process (actually ARPT: Appointment, Reappointment, Promotions and Tenure). Article XXVI of the CBA spells out the five tier process. The first tier is peer review, …"input at the point of closest contact with the faculty members individually affected." Unfortunately, what many departmental peer committees do not realize is that they are actually engendered with real freedom to …"set up such procedures as they deem appropriate to effectuate the foregoing." In other words, Peer Committees need not simply replicate procedures that come from the Dean's office, the Academic Senate's Faculty Handbook, or the Provost's Office. This seems to be a missed opportunity for the faculty — to act independently of the Administration in effectuating guidelines and criteria that would best compliment their departments from a strictly faculty point of view.

Reality #5: The Board of Trustees is the final arbiter in all matters concerning appointments, reappointments, promotion and/or status change and tenure. This is cited in Article XVI, 16.1 and 16.3, "Final determination is by the expressed approval of the Board of Trustees. Review and determination shall also take into account enrollment trends, distribution and budgetary considerations" (Did they leave anything out?) If you believe that anyone can act in solitary-independent of one's immediate superior, I have a job for you. It's teaching a fifteen week college level course for less than $2,500.

We have a choice, we can accept the status quo or we can start the arduous task now, of reshaping our roles at Pratt and taking back OUR issues of employment. We have abrogated our responsibilities for far too long to ourselves and to our faculty brethren, and in so doing made the Administration's job easier and our plight worse.
We are all categorized by status, like it or not; our rights or so-called rights based on our level of employment. I'm not advocating class warfare, only class consciousness.

Kye Carbone,
Adjunct Associate