Joint Committee on the Visiting Status September 13, 2007

On September 13, 2007, Kye Carbone sent the following email:

Dear UFCT Member:

As Pratt faculty members, most of us are aware of how intractable the visiting category/status issue has become. Getting the Pratt Administration [in the last negotiation] to agree to meet and discuss the many issues emanating from the ‘visiting category' was no small feat. As called for in the 2003-2007 CBA, a joint committee to discuss the myriad of issues related to this faculty status was in fact constituted in January 2006. The committee was co-chaired by the Institute Provost and me as President of the UFCT. Eleven committee members: five faculty, five administrators and one representative of the academic senate met ten times over the course of ten months and amazingly, agreed on much more than what – seemingly -divided us.

At this time [fall 2007], the recommendations of the JCVS (Joint Committee on the Visiting Status) committee are being exhaustively discussed as we are once again, in the midst of contract negotiations. It would appear that this is an operative time to earnestly see if we can buck the status-quo. As this issue may just yet result in amendment of the collective bargaining agreement, I assure you, that any and all changes to the CBA will be sufficiently vetted publicly. 

That said, I have attached to this email transmission, a "history/editorial" of the Visiting Category' which I wrote in fall 2005, as well as read aloud at the first JCVS meeting. Polemics aside, this editorial-history is sufficiently buttressed by empirical facts, namely, that this faculty status was never necessarily designated for the exclusive use of the impermanent artist/practitioner; the guest artist "visitor" who would teach at Pratt  in a limited capacity and only for a short period of time.

Rectifying this issue is of tremendous benefit to all faculty, full-time and part-time alike.

In Solidarity,

Kye

Here is the attachment to which he referred:

THE VISITING CATEGORY

Before there was a faculty union at Pratt Institute and a collective bargaining agreement, Pratt faculty members were either full-time or part-time. The categories/statuses: ‘adjunct' and ‘visiting' were non-existent for the part-time faculty.

Just prior to enacting the first contract in 1972, the UFCT asked each part-time faculty member if they wished to be full-time. Those wishing to be full-time were given adjunct titles. Moreover, if this newly minted adjunct had served the Institute for ten semesters or more, they were "deemed professionally competent" and given a Certificate of Continuous Employment (CCE).

 

For all intents and purposes, the Adjunct w/CCE was a "full-timer in waiting", the Institute "obligated to offer such full-time positions within their field of competence if such openings exist." This aspect of the CCE status no longer exists; lost in negotiations for the 1997-2000 contract.

However, for the contingent of part-time faculty who did not wish to be full-time, or for those who were not necessarily interested in a professorial-track, the professional or "distinguished practitioners or specialists" faculty status, i.e. the visiting category, was thus created.

Therefore, the visiting category was not necessarily at its inception; nor is it (certainly) at present, a faculty category for the temporarily employed; the so-called "art star", guest artist or resident. It would appear to have always been a faculty classification for the practitioner with the ability to teach to their area of expertise/competence; the: engineers, architects, art directors, graphic-designers, etc. who had established professional careers and regarded their teaching as supplemental. As such, their commitment to Pratt was limited. Therefore, academic advancement, employment level, job protection, benefits eligibility and/or tenure were never assigned to, nor ever associated with visiting titles.

Confusion often ensues when describing distinctions between these two part-time faculty statuses. Adjunct is synonymous with part-timer "everywhere else". Likewise, to be a ‘visitor' or ‘visiting lecturer' at most other colleges is to be a ‘guest' or ‘resident' artist/lecturer – temporarily employed to fulfill the dictates of a specialized educational project or objective. Conversely, such distinguished practitioners (or visitors) are well compensated for these specialized – but limited endeavors. Pratt Institute appears to have no real history of utilizing its visiting category in this manner.

True, there are many distinguished visitors who have taught and who continue to teach at Pratt Institute – demonstrating their distinction every day. This is undoubtedly one of the hallmarks of a Pratt education: real practitioners who teach! Most of us who were visitors initially were invited to teach; the invitation predicated on our published and/or exhibited works of distinction. Yet, when initially hired, we were never informed of the differences between the visiting and adjunct statuses. The average visitor remains unaware of these distinctions until and when they wish an additional class, or wish to purchase medical benefits. At what point does one's service exceed a ‘visit'? At what point has one overstayed their welcome?

Seventy-five percent of Pratt's courses are taught by part-timers (split almost evenly between adjunct and visiting). A distinct majority (58%) of the total faculty body (full-time and part-time combined) is visiting. Is this good educationally?

In many respects, it is the effectiveness of the average visitor that has brought us to this critical juncture. If not for their wish to be acknowledged, awarded and advanced for a job well done, would the average visitor risk butting-heads with an administrative practice appearing to reckon that as long as the majority of Pratt's faculty is not heavily invested in the institute (and vice-verse) the status quo will continue?

The status quo seems to welcome and retain visitors so long as they do not covet adjunct status. Since 1972, clear distinctions between visiting and adjunct have become effectively blurred. The bargaining history of this period is abundantly clear, the Pratt Administration was determined to retard, dissuade, and eventually render obsolete, the conferral of CCE. By determinedly exploiting the dividing-line between visiting and adjunct, the Pratt Institute Administration essentially accomplished one of its primary goals, a weak faculty/labor force.

When one faculty status is exploited, all are vulnerable. When we allow fissures in our faculty ranks to be exploited, we imperil the entire faculty: full-time and part-time alike.

Rectifying the visiting category issue demands our full attention.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kye Carbone

Adjunct Professor w/CCE

President UFCT Local 1460

Fall Semester 2005 Faculty Stats:

120 Full-Time

250 Adjunct (56 w/CCE)

510 Visiting

(300 teaching no more than three-contact hours)

 

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Contract language for the visiting category is virtually unchanged since initially written in 1972:

Visiting Faculty:

  • Distinguished practitioners/specialists
  • Shall teach no more than one half of the full-time workload
  • Compensation shall parallel the equivalent adjunct ranks
  • Shall not be eligible for a CCE

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Draft

PROPOSAL

(Define or re-define the visiting category. What it is at present? What has it become?)

  • Distinguished practitioner or specialist, and/or
  • Adjunct applicant
  • Probationary and evaluation period up to (?) years

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Union Proposal, 1993:

"If the Institute reappoints a visiting faculty member for a second-year, the faculty member may elect, following notification of reappointment, to convert to adjunct status."

The following was included in the status report of September 22, 2007:

JCVS: Joint Committee on the Visiting Status

As faculty, most of you are aware of how intractable the visiting category issue has become. Getting the Pratt Administration to agree to meet and discuss the issues emanating from the ‘visiting category' was no small feat. As called for in the 2003-2007 CBA, a joint committee to discuss the myriad of issues related to this faculty status was constituted in January 2006. The committee was co-chaired by the Institute Provost and me as President of the UFCT. Eleven committee members: five faculty, five administrators and one representative of the academic senate met ten times over the course of ten months and amazingly, agreed on much more than what – seemingly – divided us. At the time of this writing (September 2007), the recommendations of the JCVS committee may just yet result in amendment of the collective bargaining agreement. The UFCT and Pratt Administration are meeting regularly and discussing in detail what a ‘Re-Structured Part-Time Faculty' should look like. I assure you that when the time is right, any and all – proposed – changes will be sufficiently vetted publicly. Stay tuned!