Faculty Categories And Distributions. In fall 1996, the University of Rhode Island employed 641 in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission faculty positions--619 on a full-time basis and 22 (with a full-time equivalent of 11.6 rounded to 12) on a part- time basis. Of the 641 faculty, 600 were in tenure-track positions. In addition to the 641, 28 employees, principally academic administrators, held faculty rank but were not in positions classified as faculty. Thus, the total headcount of faculty at the University was 665, of whom 518 or 78% were tenured. More information about the distribution of faculty by college, tenure-track status, rank and gender is available in the workroom. In addition to these faculty, approximately 250 outside specialists held adjunct appointments at the University, for example, in clinical positions in the Department of Psychology and the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy. Regarding the ability of the institution to meet the instructional needs of its students and mission, the ratio of full- time faculty to students has been relatively constant over time. As the student population has declined over the last ten years, so has the number of faculty, resulting in a steady ratio.
The colleges or units at the University to which faculty are assigned are: Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Continuing Education (CCE), Engineering, Human Science and Services (HSS), Nursing, the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), Pharmacy, Resource Development, and the University Libraries. Information about the number of sections taught by departments in the various categories, divided into undergraduate, lower-division graduate, and upper-division graduate, is available in the workroom.
Based on full-time instructional equivalents of all students (9,224 undergraduates and 1,840 graduates), the student-faculty ratio is approximately 17 to 1. This ratio, of course, varies from college to college. In academic year 1995-96, the total headcount in all courses of any kind, including laboratory sections, independent study, and classes offered through the College of Continuing Education was 92,432 with 83,723 in undergraduate classes and 8,709 in graduate classes. Of these, full-time faculty were responsible for classes totaling 60,847 headcount. The remainder were taught by graduate assistants, temporary faculty, and per course appointment instructors. Thus, full-time faculty are responsible for teaching approximately 66% of the course seats at the University. When central administration eliminated lecturer positions several years ago, the goal was to have full-time faculty teach more. Thus, URI is not heavily laden with part-time faculty. URI compares favorably to other peer research institutions with respect to the ratio of part-time faculty.
Faculty Qualifications. Faculty appointments and promotions at the University have increasingly reflected standards consistent with those of a research university which is also intent on promoting good teaching. Of the 600 tenure-track faculty, 545 or 91% hold doctorates. The doctorate is required for all new faculty appointments except those in the Library and Fine Arts, where the M.L.S., M.M. or M.F.A. are accepted as terminal degrees. Faculty candidates are typically required to demonstrate the capacity for productive research and strong teaching skills. Faculty being reviewed for promotion and tenure must demonstrate productivity, typically in scholarly publications, service within and outside the University, and satisfactory teaching skills. Outstanding teaching skills better than "satisfactory" can significantly strengthen a candidate's case for tenure and promotion.
Faculty research and scholarly endeavor encompass a wide variety of outputs and contributions to intellectual, public and cultural life in the State of Rhode Island, the United States, and internationally. Research performed at the University encompasses the entire range of inquiry--basic and applied research, artistic and literary production, consulting with local, state, and federal agencies and outreach.
In the academic year 1995-1996, incomplete records show that University of Rhode Island faculty produced more than 560 articles in scholarly journals, served on 170 editorial boards of scholarly journals, published more than 40 books, as well as numerous book reviews and newspaper articles. The University received approximately $36M in sponsored research funding in 1995-1996, positioning URI in the top 150 institutions nationally in terms of federal research funding. The research productivity section in Standard Four describes this in more detail.
Faculty Recruitment and Appointment. The process of recruiting and appointing faculty proceeds according to contract and is described in the Agreement between the Rhode Island Board of Governors and the University of Rhode Island Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The process begins at the department level with the identification of specific needs. For a variety of reasons centering on enrollment patterns, financial resources and needs, vacated positions are no longer considered to be permanently attached to the department in which the vacancy occurred. Rather, the position is considered to revert to the Provost's Office who approves departmental searches only after review of the department's needs as balanced against those of the University. Once approval to recruit for a position is received from the dean of the college and the Provost, the process of organizing a search is begun within the department in cooperation with the dean, the Provost, Office of Human Resources and the Affirmative Action Office.
In concert with each of the offices mentioned above, positions are advertised as widely as possible and candidates' resumes and references are studied carefully and reviewed against the criteria set forth in the position advertisement which serves as a description of position qualifications and duties. Finalists are invited to campus for interviews, and a final selection is made after review by the dean, Provost and Affirmative Action Office. Letters of offer, which include terms of hire and a description of expectations of the new faculty member, are prepared by the dean of the appropriate college in consultation with the Provost.
Fewer appointments in the past five years, compared to the preceding five-year period, have been made because of budget consideration. However, many excellent new faculty have been brought to the University, and there has been a concentrated effort to recruit minority and women faculty. As of fall 1995, for example, non-tenured continuing faculty at the assistant professor level or below included 43 women and 37 men. This compares to 61 women and 64 men in 1987. As of fall 1996, about 13% of the University's faculty are multicultural as compared to 8.6% in 1988.
Faculty Workload. The basic policy relating to workload at the University is stated in Article 12.1 of the URI-AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement :
Functions and goals of departments and colleges differ throughout the University. Since the various subject areas have evolved from different academic and professional traditions, the precise manner in which each department contributes to teaching, research and public service cannot be specified uniformly on a University-wide, college-wide, nor even on a department-wide basis. Furthermore, as is the case with other professionals, University faculty members can be most effective only if there is reasonable flexibility in determining the manner in which they shall carry out their responsibilities. Individual workload assignments shall take into account teaching, research, and University and public service.
In accord with this statement, the specific assignments of individual faculty members can and do vary. In 1995, the University administration formulated a practice of setting individual faculty effort expectations and of analyzing faculty workload in terms of credit hour equivalents (CHEs). In this system, all faculty are expected, other things being equal, to be explicitly assigned responsibilities amounting to 9 CHEs each semester. Teaching three, 3-credit courses can satisfy the expectation, but allowances are made for a variety of other assignments including sponsored research, new faculty career startup, special projects, service as chair of a department or of major University committees. The Provost has been working with deans to make the CHE allowances for various faculty activities comparable and equitable across colleges.
This system of faculty workload reporting also forms the basis for a Program Contribution Analysis (PCA) methodology which quantifies the financial costs, revenues and efficiency associated with individual degree programs at the University. Programs with underutilized capacity, particularly programs staffed with faculty not meeting their CHE expectation, show as more costly and less efficient than otherwise. The PCA results are being used to help determine allocation of faculty positions based on a principle that positions go preferentially to needful programs which have no under- utilized resources.
Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and
Procedures. Promotion and tenure
policies and procedures are governed by the URI-AAUP Collective Bargaining
Agreement representing the
faculty. These policies are also found in the University Manual . The policies include:
Tenure - statement and principles of tenure
Reviews of Tenured and Non-Tenured Faculty. Regular evaluation of faculty performance is an important administrative function performed to assure that faculty are effective in their assigned responsibilities. At URI it is also intended to provide the basis upon which faculty are recommended for retention in rank, promotion and tenure. In addition, evaluation information is used as the basis of non-renewal or termination of employment at the University. Article XV of the URI-AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement outlines provisions for the Annual Faculty Review. The provisions set forth through this collective bargaining agreement assures judicious peer evaluation, non- discrimination, due process, and an appeals process.
Tenure-track faculty members are subject to periodic review under the terms of the URI- AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement between the AAUP, the faculty's bargaining agent, and the Board of Governors. An annual review is mandatory for all untenured faculty on continuing appointment. Tenured assistant professors are reviewed every year, associate professors are reviewed every other year, and tenured professors are reviewed every fourth year. The annual or periodic reviews and tenure reviews are based on the faculty member's contributions in the areas of teaching, research and/or artistic activities and service. The review includes departmental peer evaluation based on a dossier or portfolio documenting her/his accomplishments in teaching, research and service, and letters of evaluation by colleagues and/or outside evaluators. After receiving faculty assessments, the chairperson writes an evaluation of the faculty member. The faculty member has five days to review the evaluation and prepare a written response. The chair's evaluation and the written response are then forwarded for review and comment by the individual's respective dean. Promotion and tenure recommendations are forwarded to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. In consultation with the Council of Deans, she provides the President with advice on these recommendations. Promotion decisions are made by the President. Tenure is conferred by the Board of Governors upon the recommendation of the President.
Faculty teaching performance also is appraised. Each course and instructor at the University is evaluated with a standard Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) instrument. The SET questionnaire is administered near the end of each semester and may be used as review and diagnostic information on each faculty member's teaching performance. Results of these evaluations are typically included in faculty reviews. The Instructional Development Program (IDP) is also available to provide guidance and perform assessment and feedback of a faculty member's teaching. IDP also provides a year-long faculty teaching fellows program to encourage excellence in teaching (see Standard Four). Average faculty scores in the SETs are just above 4.0 on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0, where 5.0 is excellent.
Contractual Security. Reasonable and appropriate job security for tenure-track faculty, limited full-time faculty, and lecturers is ensured by contractual agreement negotiated between the Board of Governors and the University's Chapter of the AAUP which represents the faculty. The Agreement provides a description of policies and procedures governing dismissal, non-reappointment and termination due to programmatic curtailment or financial exigency.
Professional Development Opportunities. Faculty members at the University of Rhode Island are strongly encouraged to develop skills and knowledge needed to stay at the forefront of their respective disciplines. Attendance at professional meetings, opportunities for sabbatical leave, on-campus colloquia and workshops, and research and teaching fellowships provide the means for advanced training. In the teaching area, the University provides the unique Instructional Development Program (IDP) which assists both full- and part-time faculty with instructional processes. Additionally, URI makes institutional nominations to national leadership and change initiatives sponsored by groups such as the ACE Fellowship Program, the AAHE Summer Quality Academy, and HERS.
There are also University Faculty Assistance grants available annually to full-time faculty that assist in the development of instructional methods. Research is enhanced from a similar program of funding, available each academic semester to support creative and scholarly work for which there is little or no extramural funding. Another important program is the sabbatical leave program. Policies and procedures are outlined in the University Manual sections 7.61.10-19 and section 21.1 of the URI- AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement . Its primary purpose is to provide an uninterrupted period of experience for scholarly enrichment. Every six years tenured faculty are eligible to apply for a sabbatical leave. Sabbatical leaves are competitive and can be granted for a period of one academic year with half pay or half a year with full pay. Other opportunities for faculty development are provided by the University though programs that enhance the professional and interpersonal skills of the University workforce. The newly instituted Professional Development, Leadership and Organization Training (PDLOT) program conducts various instructional opportunities for faculty and staff to increase their competence and help faculty strive for excellence. The University also provides opportunities for faculty development through participation in extramural programs and workshops and by offering release time and limited travel expense reimbursement.
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities. Faculty rights and responsibilities are established through the URI-AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement , through legislation recorded in the University of Rhode Island University Manual , and by the most stringent traditions of American higher education. The University, the faculty, and the Rhode Island Chapter of the AAUP subscribe to the principle of academic freedom, and also, by contract, endorse the Statement of Professional Ethics prepared by the American Association of University Professors. While devoted to the free pursuit of knowledge and guaranteed the right of free expression, University of Rhode Island faculty are committed to the highest of teaching standards and the common good of the institution.
Conditions of Employment for Academic Support Staff. Employment for all academic support staff is controlled through a state-wide job classification system. This process establishes and defines specific positions at the University of Rhode Island for which candidates apply and are ultimately selected. These classified positions are usually included in a variety of collective bargaining units. Classified positions are governed by the Association of Clericals and Technicals/National Educational Association (ACT/NEA). The criteria for appointment, salary, performance evaluation, and opportunities for professional development are described in detail through each collective bargaining agreement. Non-classified positions are established in a similar fashion to classified positions and are organized through the Professional Staff Association (PSA) and the Professional and Technical/Administrative Association (PTAA). Orientation sessions for new staff members on benefits, compensation and job responsibilities are typically conducted once each month.
Some academic support staff maintain flexible work schedules to meet the needs of departmental or academic teams. These staff positions have schedules to meet the changing demands of a University unit. Examples of this situation include adjunct instructors who may be assigned to teach one course per year. These part-time positions are governed through the Provost's Office and are not associated with a collective bargaining unit.
The University of Rhode Island encourages all full-time academic support staff to seek professional advancement both inside and outside of the University system. Each employee is encouraged and supported in job related training, workshops and seminars. For example, PDLOT provides a wide range of professional training opportunities. Both the University and State of Rhode Island offer financial incentives to classified employees who take four job-related courses or seminars. All full-time faculty and staff receive tuition waivers and can register for any University course approved through the chair and dean. Further, academic support staff may apply for "professional improvement leave." This allows an individual to engage in work-related education through a University leave process. Specifics are described in each respective collective bargaining agreement.
Newly appointed academic support staff serve an introductory, probationary period. Supervisors normally review the new staff member's performance on a regular basis, every 3 months for classified positions and once every 6 months for non-classified positions. In both cases, at the end of the probationary period, a staff member receives a written evaluation.
Graduate Teaching Assistants. In 1995-1996 the University awarded 317 graduate teaching assistantships. Responsibilities of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) vary from department to department and may include: grading homework and exams; setting up laboratories; leading recitation or discussion sessions; teaching laboratory courses; and teaching sections of multi-section courses. In some cases, GTAs have full responsibility for teaching a course. In 1995-1996, GTAs had complete responsibility for 289 course sections totaling 6,106 course seats or enrollments. Thus, of the 83, 723 undergraduate course enrollments in 1995-1996, GTAs were responsible for about 7% of those enrollments while continuing faculty, as reported above, were responsible for about 66%. The remaining 27% of course enrollments were handled by temporary, per- course, and other instructors.
Because the responsibilities of GTAs differ, departments and colleges offer distinct programs to prepare GTAs for their teaching roles. GTAs in the humanities, social sciences, and several professional programs attend the Instructional Development Program's Course Planning Workshops, five half- day sessions offered annually during the week before fall semester classes begin. This series, attended by faculty as well as GTAs, is designed for those who have full responsibility for planning and conducting courses and focuses on a broader range of teaching skills than other GTA orientation programs. Topics include learning styles and developmental patterns of URI students, establishing course goals, lecturing skills, getting students actively involved, testing and grading, and meeting the first class. GTAs in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science attend a separate orientation program sponsored by the Graduate School, the Instructional Development Program, and participating departments. The program, which includes four half-day sessions also held the week before fall semester classes begin, focuses on a more limited set of teaching skills (introducing a course, explaining difficult concepts, asking and responding to questions) but devotes more time to practicing those skills. GTAs spend fully half of each session in microteaching groups where they practice teaching, are videotaped, and receive feedback from peers and from a faculty member from their department. Because many of the GTAs in these departments are international students, this training program also devotes considerable attention to how education in America compares to education in other countries.
Teaching assistants who are non-native speakers of English and who need to improve their English communication skills attend a three-week Summer English Institute. Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School, the Summer English Institute emphasizes spoken English and focuses on developing the interaction patterns, vocabulary, listening comprehension, and pronunciation skills that GTAs will need in the classroom. The program also includes an introduction to the culture of the American classroom and features microteaching exercises that are presented to URI undergraduates who help assess the GTA's communication skills.
Once GTAs begin teaching, departments assume responsibility for providing continuing support, supervision and evaluation. Their activities vary. In departments where GTAs teach sections of a multi-section course or laboratories corresponding to a lecture course, a faculty supervisor meets regularly with GTAs to discuss both content and pedagogical issues. Some departments also provide systematic consultation programs in which faculty or experienced GTAs observe classes, videotape GTAs while they are teaching, collect student evaluations, and then consult with GTAs individually about the results.
Most programs focus on preparing and supervising GTAs for their current teaching responsibilities, which tend to be relatively limited. Recognizing that some of their graduate students will become college professors, the Department of Psychology offers a three-credit graduate seminar in teaching psychology. The course is designed to prepare students to teach undergraduate psychology courses, addresses the full range of instructional tasks from planning a course to evaluating its effectiveness, and explores some of the philosophical and value issues that underlie instructional choices. It represents an achievement for the Psychology Department and model for other programs to emulate.
The recently revised Mission Statement of the University of Rhode Island describes the general mission with a primary focus on expanding knowledge, transmitting knowledge, and fostering the application of knowledge (see Standard One). The University of Rhode Island can claim justly that at the level of individuals, its faculty are fully qualified to carry out its stated mission. For example, as reported above, 91% of the faculty hold the highest degree attainable in their field as compared with the 80% reported in the 1987 Self-Study . Scholarly productivity and research, particularly funded research, has been increasingly emphasized as a basis for hiring, promotion and tenure. Although the University does not maintain complete or easily accessible information about scholarly production, available information suggests that it has increased since the last Self-Study . External funding has increased since the last Self -Study . Even so, teaching has not been neglected. Poor teaching performance detracts from the achievement of the University's mission and can be an impediment to promotion and tenure. Teaching excellence, while not sufficient, enhances faculty profiles in promotion and tenure decisions.
One item of concern to faculty and administrators has been the reduced numbers of the faculty. The 1987 Self-Study reported that the University had:
...720 full-time tenure-track faculty members to serve a student body of approximately 9,000 FTE [full time equivalent} undergraduate and 2,000 FTE graduate students. This figure represents a favorable student/faculty ratio (about 15-1) which the University has used to advantage, especially in its teaching programs. (p. 35)
While it is true that total enrollments have dropped since the data above were reported, reduction of continuing faculty has slightly outpaced declines in enrollments. The comparable figures in 1996, as reported above, are 631 FTE faculty to serve a student body of approximately 9,200 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate students. The student- faculty ratio in 1997 is approximately 17 to 1. Of course, the student-to-faculty ratio cannot measure the adequacy or inadequacy of faculty members. However, it clearly indicates a change since the last Self-Study and provides a means to quantify the pressure on resources that most departments have felt, especially since 1990. The problem was exacerbated by the need to hold open and not fill vacated faculty positions as a budget balancing strategy. Although the strategy was essentially the only realistic option available, nonetheless, the consequences have been particularly troubling especially since faculty are asked to meet more stringent professional expectations and to take on additional responsibilities such as the new course required of all freshmen, URI 101. Since student satisfaction and the quality of their educational experience are increasingly seen as dependent on close interaction with at least some of their teachers, allowing a decline in the number of faculty to students to continue would be a significant threat to the goals and mission of the University. The current student-faculty ratio also reflects a commitment of URI to ensuring that students are served by full-time rather than part-time faculty.
Diminishing state support in the period 1990-1995 brought on primarily by a downturn in the state's economy, has been a dominant influence on the University's faculty during that period. Not only have faculty positions been held open or eliminated, the University's ability to support research productivity through conference travel grants, research awards, research assistants and support staff has decreased in the wake of budget woes and has been threatened. Professional development opportunities have been limited.
Nonetheless, despite the adverse effects of economic pressures, there are positive aspects. Minority recruitment efforts have yielded an increase in faculty of color. Faculty seem to regard the procedures for tenure and promotion as generally fair and equitable. Good teaching by faculty continues to be highly regarded and rewarded.
Just as the economic pressures on the University's budget have been the main factor relating to the foregoing assessment, the state's support of the University's budget will be the dominant influence on its future, at least over the next few years. The State of Rhode Island has been slowly recovering from its economic malaise, and state support for higher education has seen a stabilization, even a modest increase, in recent budgets. Last year, the Provost authorized searches for 25 vacant faculty positions, the largest number of potential appointments in many years. The influx of new faculty members into the University was urgently needed. If reasonable budgetary support continues, the University will experience a satisfactory rate of replacement and rejuvenation of the faculty. Since new faculty not only fill empty positions but bring new energy, ideas and expertise to the University, the University will be more able to reinforce the best of the existing and to implement new strategies in its teaching, research and service programs. Without this support, we can project a struggle to maintain acceptable institutional integrity and quality.
One hopeful sign that state support for higher education is on the rise was the passage in the November 1996 state elections of referenda authorizing the sale of bonds for a major telecommunications and computing infrastructure initiative as well as bonds for the refurbishment of three of the University's major buildings. The telecommunications infrastructure initiative will provide students, faculty and staff alike with up-to-date computational and network facilities. Many think that this project will have the most significant positive effect on the operations of the University, including teaching and research activities, than the University has experienced in the last several decades.
Minority recruitment will remain a priority. The review of Affirmative Action completed this year suggested continuing attention to minority recruitment and retention. However, because of competition from other economically and academically better-situated institutions, it is unlikely that the University will experience major changes in this area. Modest improvement, similar to what has occurred in the last ten years, is a reasonable expectation.
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