University at Albany
 

Guidelines for the Appointment of Part-Time Faculty Members


Introduction

Part-time faculty members (i.e., employees appointed to instructional titles with anything less than a full-time obligation) are an integral part of the instructional capacity of the University at Albany, indeed of most of the nation's modern research universities. In recognizing the value of part-time faculty to the mission of higher education, the University has identified several goals toward which we will continue to strive in relation to the needs and interests of part-time faculty and the institution's academic program. These include: (a) job security through extended employment contracts for part-time faculty who have an on-going commitment to the University; (b) appropriate compensation; (c) shifting the source of part-time faculty financing to more stable funds; and (d) establishing accountability for hiring, compensation, and professional performance review. In addition, it is appropriate to pursue opportunities to advance the University's affirmative action goals in administering this part of the institution's workforce. Concerted efforts have been made in recent years to address the professional needs and interests of part-time faculty members in recognition of their importance to the academic program and to the vitality of the institution as an intellectual community. These guidelines are an extension of such initiatives. The objective is to provide direction for both University officers and part-time faculty members regarding applicable policies and practices in the critical areas of recruitment, selection, appointment, compensation and benefits, professional support, and supervision and evaluation. The guidelines are based on provisions in the Policies of the Trustees of the State University of New York and on the current Agreement between The State of New York and United University Professions.

This is a working document, now in its third year. Compiled and promulgated by the Office of the Provost, we expect these guidelines to be reviewed and revised annually to improve their usefulness to the constituencies they are intended to serve. Toward that end, comments and suggestions are welcome, and may be directed to the Provost's Office, University Hall 308.

Role(s) and Responsibilities of Part-time Faculty

Part-time faculty members serve in a wide variety of important capacities at the University at Albany. Approximately one-quarter of the University's courses in any given semester are taught by part-time faculty members. They often teach lower-division and introductory courses, and also augment a department's ability to offer courses in specialized areas. In some programs, part-time faculty perform a critical role in teaching or supervising a required student practicum experience, in directing independent studies or research, or in serving on appropriate departmental committees. As members of the faculty, part-time instructors are expected to maintain the institution's high standards for professional conduct and to adhere to the University's academic policies as described in the Faculty Handbook and other applicable institutional documents.

Recruitment

Responsibility for recruiting, selecting, appointing, and supervising part-time faculty members is assigned to the university officer (a department chair or dean) of the unit to which the faculty member is appointed. Individuals who are interested in part-time service should contact the chair or dean of the department or school in which they would like to teach. In some cases, a chair or dean may decide that it is in a program's interest to advertise part-time employment opportunities, either within the University or more broadly in regional media. Such postings should include a brief description of the nature of the opportunity (e.g., the types of courses to be taught, the semesters or quarters in which service is possible), the minimum qualifications to be considered, and a point of contact and address for submitting application materials.

Selection

Where selections must be made, it is expected that a department chair or dean will make reasonable judgments, taking into primary account the academic program's needs and the quality and experience of the candidates under consideration. University policy stipulates that the employment of part-time instructors engaged to teach at the graduate level who do not hold the Ph.D. must be approved by the Graduate Academic Council. Available resources and market conditions, which vary by field and discipline, are also factors that may weigh in ultimate decisions. Chairs and deans are expected to confer with others in a department or school regarding the specific criteria to be used and to make hiring decisions in consultation with a representative group of faculty. Emergency situations that preclude consultation should be documented and reported to the faculty. The obligation is to conduct a selection process that is open and fair, and to avoid decisions that appear arbitrary or capricious. Timely communication regarding the status of candidates and appointees is also a priority, as it is for all University faculty and staff.

Appointment

Appointment of part-time faculty members is governed by the Trustees' Policies and applicable provisions in the Agreement. Virtually all such appointments are to the rank of part-time lecturer, a non-tenure track title. Two types of appointment are possible. Initial appointments are made on a temporary basis. Individuals who serve for six consecutive semesters (excluding summers) on a temporary basis are entitled to and must be given a part-time term appointment. If employment is interrupted at any point during the six semesters, then the eligibility period for a term appointment begins anew.

Part-time lecturers normally have a semester or an academic year obligation. Whenever possible, the University encourages departments to appoint part-time faculty for a full academic year rather than semester by semester. Individuals on term appointments may be renewed for terms of one to three years. Although it is expected in practice to occur rarely, appointments on either a temporary or a term basis are subject to enrollment and budget, and may be terminated at the beginning of a semester (in advance of the anticipated termination date) in the event of cancelled or low-enrolled courses, or campus fiscal exigencies.

Appointments are initiated by a department or school, using an initial appointment form for first-time faculty members, or a change of status form for individuals who are being renewed (appointment forms and packets are available from the Office of Human Resources Management). The specific course assignment for each part-time instructor must be specified in the remarks section of the form. Completed forms must be endorsed by the department chair (or where applicable the dean) and the Provost before transmittal to the Office of Human Resources Management. Staff in the Office of Human Resources Management are responsible for executing the appointment and for preparing a letter confirming the appointment, which is typically signed by the Provost.

Compensation and Benefits

Part-time faculty members are typically paid a salary on a per course basis. In some cases, depending on the nature of the assignment, another basis may be used (e.g., on a per student basis for teaching practicum supervisors). The range in compensation is wide, referenced to market factors that operate within each discipline or field. Compensation for faculty in subjects where there is a substantial supply of qualified instructors is comparatively low; rates are comparatively high for faculty in highly technical subjects or where a program must compete for expertise with other private-sector options. The campus minimum per course stipend is $2,800. More specific information regarding starting salaries is available from each department chair or from a designated assistant dean of each school or college.

Stipends for service in the summer session are governed by a campus-wide framework promulgated each year by the Office of Summer Sessions. The framework establishes a standard salary based on the rank of the instructor (e.g., professor, associate, assistant, lecturer, graduate student).

Part-time faculty are members of the professional services negotiating unit represented by United University Professions. (UUP) and as such are eligible for cost-of-living adjustments and discretionary awards as authorized under the applicable Agreement.

Employee benefits for part-time faculty members are described in detail on the University's web-page at http://hr.albany.edu/content/benptuup.asp. Part-time academic employees who teach two or more semester-length courses in any one semester (excluding quarter courses) are eligible for health insurance, including prescription drug coverage and long-term disability insurance. The same eligibility requirements apply for dental and vision care coverage through the UUP Benefit Trust Fund. Employees who do not meet this course load requirement may enroll in health insurance and the dental and vision care program by personally paying the full-share cost of the programs on a direct-pay basis.

Part-time faculty accrue sick leave as follows:

Those Teaching 1 course Will Receive 1/4 day/month
  2 courses   1/2 day/month
  3 courses   1 day/month

Academic year employees, including part-time faculty members, are not eligible to accrue vacation or annual leave.

Part-time faculty appointed on a temporary basis may elect to join either the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) or the New York State Employees' Retirement System (ERS). Individuals appointed on a term basis have the additional option of joining the Optional Retirement Program (ORP). ORP carrier choices are: ING, MetLife, TIAA-CREF and VALIC. Participation in a retirement system is optional for part-time employees, and there is no deadline for choosing any of the options. Membership in either ERS, TRS or ORP carries a mandatory employee contribution of 3% of salary (prior to computation of federal income tax). Current legislation lifts the mandatory contribution to ERS and TRS after 10 years of membership.

Part-time faculty are also eligible to make contributions to tax-deferred (both federal and state income taxes) annuity programs with ING, Fidelity, TIAA-CREF and the New York State Deferred Compensation Program. Contributions are subject to IRS limitations.

Like all employees, part-time faculty are covered by and subject to social security withholding.

The University provides no separate life insurance program for its employees; death benefits, however, are available through membership in one of the State retirement systems. UUP provides a $6,000 term life insurance policy, and additional life insurance can also be purchased through United University Professions.

As members of the UUP bargaining unit, part-time faculty members may enroll in one tuition-free course at any SUNY campus (excluding community colleges) each semester on a space-available basis. In addition, all part-time employees are eligible to apply to the State University Employee Waiver Program, which provides up to 50% of tuition for up to six (6) credit hours of instruction for job-related courses taken at a unit of the State University of New York (excluding a community college). These benefits are not transferable to a spouse or family dependent. UUP does, however, provide a $500 tuition scholarship per semester for dependent children who attend a SUNY campus (excluding community colleges) and maintain a 2.0 GPA.

Part-time faculty may enroll in the State's Dependent Care Advantage Account program, which allows employees to pay up to $5,000 annually for dependent care expenses on a pre-tax basis. Qualified dependents include children under the age of 13, handicapped children of any age, and adults who live in the employee's home who are incapable of caring for themselves. Employees must enroll within the first 60 days of employment (or within 60 days of a change in family status) or wait until an annual enrollment period in the fall. A medical flexible spending account is available for employees to set aside up to $3,000 on a pre-tax basis for medical and dental expenses not covered by health insurance.

All New York State employees are paid on a two-week lag basis. Under this system, new employees must wait four weeks for their first paycheck. Most new fall academic employees will receive their first paycheck during the third week of September. All employees separating from the State payroll receive their final paycheck two weeks after their appointments end, at the salary rate at the time of separation. University employees may elect to have their paychecks automatically deposited via electronic funds transfer with any financial institution that is a member of the American Automated Clearing House.

All employees in the UUP bargaining unit are required to pay union dues or an agency shop fee. The fee is paid through payroll deduction, whether or not the employee elects to be a member of the union. The fee is a percentage of the faculty member's salary.

Orientation

Normally the orientation of new part-time faculty members will include a meeting with the Department Chair or designee to insure that they have an overall understanding of program goals, texts and materials, academic procedures and policies, including evaluation policies, criteria and procedures. Each part-time faculty member will also be directed to the online Guidelines for the Appointment of Part-time Faculty Members together with the Faculty Handbook. It is expected that part-time faculty will have course outlines for all courses taught on file in the Department Office, and that the Department Chair or designee will review these documents to insure conformity with Departmental goals and standards. The Provost's Office and Office of Human Resources Management will also collaborate in offering an orientation program to introduce part-time faculty to the rights, benefits, and obligations of their appointments. To the extent possible, departments and schools will develop opportunities to integrate part-time faculty into appropriate activities and academic culture of the unit.

Professional Support

The University has a responsibility to insure that all faculty members, including part-time faculty members have access to the tools and resources required to perform their function. Accordingly, part-time instructors have faculty borrowing privileges with the University Libraries as well as access to other campus facilities (e.g., recreation facilities, technical support services, computing, e-mail, web-support, local telephone, parking). Part-time faculty may receive mail at their departmental address and must have access to duplication services, supplies, and equipment required to perform their assigned duties and obligations. The University encourages, indeed expects, contact with students outside the traditional classroom. Within a department/school's policies on resources, it is expected that priority will be given, where applicable, to the need for office space for part-time faculty to meet with students during regularly scheduled office hours or on an arranged basis.

The University sponsors a variety of programs and services to encourage and assist the professional development of all faculty, including part-time faculty members. Part-time faculty are encouraged to take advantage of the professional development opportunities, workshops, seminars, and other programs offered through the Institute for Teaching, Learning and Academic Leadership (ITLAL), Academic Computing, the Office of Academic Affairs, and other units. In addition, part-time faculty are eligible to be considered for small grants and other forms of support for professional development authorized by the Agreement administered through the State-wide Labor-Management Committees. These include the Individual Development Award Program, which offers up to $1,000 in response to applications seeking support for conference attendance or participation, workshops, research, curriculum development, and creative or other professional development activities (for guidelines and application instructions see http://www.uup.lmc.state.ny.us./development/individual.html). There are also Excellence in Teaching Awards for which part-time and contingent faculty are eligible. Information about nominations is e-mailed to faculty early in the fall semester.

Supervision and Evaluation

The supervisor of record for part-time faculty members is normally a dean, department chair, or program director. Supervisors are expected to exercise reasonable oversight over each instructor's performance to insure that it meets the high standards expected for all members of the faculty. The University requires all academic units to establish procedures for the evaluation of teaching faculty, including part-time faculty. Insofar as possible, the procedures should parallel those used for full-time faculty members, and at a minimum should include provision for student course evaluations and review of course syllabi and related materials. Such documentation is highly useful for the professional development of the part-time faculty member and is also helpful in making renewal, advancement and compensation decisions. Classroom visits may also be useful, to both the faculty member and the program. The performance aspects to be evaluated should relate to the criteria for selection and renewal. Part-time faculty members who meet eligibility requirements for the discretionary salary review must complete the institution's annual Faculty Activity Report (FAR), available on the Provost's home-page, as required for all teaching faculty in the University's guidelines for discretionary review. The discretionary salary review process awards base salary increases to eligible faculty members recommended for meritorious performance.

Renewal/Non-renewal

Decisions regarding the renewal or non-renewal of part-time faculty members will be made by chairs/deans in consultation with other faculty based on the needs of the academic program, the performance of the appointee as determined by the departmental review process, and available resources. Where non-renewal is required solely due to lack of resources, decisions will be made on the basis of multiple factors, including subject expertise, performance, affirmative action, and other factors that are relevant to the quality and integrity of the academic program. Given the quality that experienced faculty bring to the instructional program, less experienced part-time faculty (those with less seniority) will not be given preference simply because they can be retained at lower cost. Temporary employees are not entitled to prior written notice of non-renewal. Term employees are entitled to forty-five (45) calendar days written notice of non-renewal. The University's Office of Human Resources normally prompts supervisors of these deadlines prior to each part-time faculty member's anticipated termination date. While the University encourages department chairs and deans to make timely renewal decisions, it is sometimes necessary to non-renew a part-time faculty member to meet the required notification provisions in the Agreement. This does not preclude, however, the reappointment of the employee at a later time.

Grievances/Discipline

The University's policy is to adjudicate disagreements and differences beginning at the lowest institutional levels. Part-time faculty members are invited, indeed strongly encouraged, to address concerns directly and informally to their supervisor, department chair, or dean. The campus UUP representative is also available to facilitate communication. Should it be necessary, more formal negotiated procedures exist for pursuing grievances or discipline. These are published in both the Trustees' Policies and the applicable Agreement Agreement (Article 7, Article 19).

Addendum on Evaluation of Part-Time Faculty

Revised: Fall 2007

References and Related Resources

Trustees' Policies
UUP Agreement
Faculty Handbook
Appointment Request Form (pdf)
Change of Status Request Form (pdf)