Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Are lecturers at Waterloo professors?

by Bryan Tolson, FAUW Vice President

As FAUW’s new vice-president this year, I have volunteered to advocate for Lecturers on our campus.   I recognize the inherent difficulty associated with FAUW representing both tenure/tenure-track faculty members and lecturers, as the interests of both groups are not always the same.  I plan to write about this issue more in a future blog.  Today’s blog is about the titles we give (or should be giving) to those who are currently lecturers on campus. 

Regular tenure/tenure-track faculty members typically have a 40/40/20 job responsibility split among the research, teaching and service components of their job.  Policy 76 suggests that the faculty appointment rank can include the word “professor” for faculty hired as research professors who are focused only on research (“Duties will be primarily research-oriented, but in some cases may include some service, teaching and/or student supervision”).  Note that research is only 40% of what most tenure/tenure-track faculty do.  On the other hand, according to Policy 76, the suggestion is that lecturers' “duties are primarily limited to teaching and service”, which is 60% of what most tenure/tenure-track faculty do.  Further, consider that our Memorandum of Agreement (Article13, part 13.5.5b) allows tenure/tenure-track faculty to reduce their research component to only 20% of their duties.  This means that lecturers could have an 80% overlap of duties with some tenure/tenure-track faculty.  Based on the above policy interpretation, the argument to designate lecturers as professors clearly has some merit.

Rainbow coloured graphic outlines of five people standing
© puckillustrations / Dollar Photo Club
Looking for further rationale, let’s consider what it means, according to UW policy, to be a professor.  Whether one has a research appointment or a regular appointment in the professorial ranks (and thus is designated as a professor), the only common thread I see in Policy 76 is that such a person “normally has a doctorate or terminal professional degree, as well as experience or strong potential in teaching and scholarship”.  How many of our lecturers on campus meet these criteria?  I am confident this number is significantly larger than zero.  For such individuals, what other reason is there to suggest that they are not worthy of using the word “professor” in their title?

Beyond policy interpretations, I tend to think of professors as having, or working towards, some form of robust job security.  In contrast, research professors have no form of job security and are limited to definite-term appointment types.  So it seems odd to me that some colleagues with no prospect of job security get to use the word “professor” in their title while others who actually have job security (Continuing Lecturers) do not. 

At the end of the day, I believe that any colleague of mine that has the same terminal degree as I do, has effectively the same level of job security as I do, and can do 60% of my job (often much better than me) deserves to have a title that includes the word “professor”.  The biggest question I see moving forward with such a change is the word “scholarship” in the Policy 76 statement.  For lecturers, what is it precisely and is it fundamentally required?

Do you think this campus should move forward and give some or all lecturers titles that include the word “professor”?  Please do comment below.

3 comments :

  1. I am not sure of the policy implications but the title of "lecturer" could be somewhat awkward in everyday situations. For example, students sometimes call for my attention by saying, "Excuse me, professor!" but never "Excuse me, lecturer!" The title "lecturer" definitely fails as an honourific.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The title 'Professor of the Practice' is sometimes used instead of Lecturer at some schools in the US.

    http://www.aaup.org/report/professors-practice

    I haven't thought about the implications of this naming change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many places that use Professor of Practice, Clinical Professor or Teaching Professor as titles. McMaster uses the same title for all professors except that some belong to the teaching track without having an explicit reference to this in their titles.

      Delete