CSUN continues tenure hiring push

James Canares

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Attention readers: This article has been edited from it’s original posting. The article incorrectly stated Adjunct professors who wish to be tenure-track have to earn the ability to apply”. Tenure-track professor earn the ability to apply for tenure after 5 years. This new version illustrates the difference between adjunct and tenure-track more clearly.

The Cal State System’s plan to hire more full-time tenure faculty remains in effect for this semester.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown approved an additional $142 million for the UC and CSU system. The CSU’s planned to use that money to hire more tenure track professors.

Provost Harry Hellenbrand said the hiring push at CSUN helped equalize the adjunct-to-tenure ratio, which has leaned towards the adjunct side in the past.

“There is slightly more tenure track than part time faculty, but purely body-to-body, it’s probably about 50-50,” Hellenbrand said.

The plan to offer more full-time employment to faculty will still continue in the spring. Hellenbrand said that only a handful are hired, but the plan is to hire 60 to 70 more full-time positions at CSUN.

As documented by the Cal State Report on Faculty Recruitment and Retention Survey, CSUN made the second most tenure-track appointments over a five-year period from 2007 to 2011 to hire more tenure faculty.

According to a table that measured Tenure Track Faculty Appointments by Campus, CSUN made 209 appointments in that five-year period, falling behind Fullerton’s 243 appointments. Collectively, however, the total success rate of all 23 colleges listed in the table was only about 73%.

Tenure-track faculty, in their fifth year, can apply for tenure at which point a committee of senior and already tenured faculty members meet under the Personnel Committee, to discuss and evaluate a candidate’s application for tenure. The committee bases their judgements on four core principles: teaching effectiveness, research and publications, service to the university and community and overall collegiality.

The benefits of a full-time tenure-track job include a more secure position, a significantly higher pay and recognition.

Adjunct professors are instead hired on a contractual, part-time temporary basis. They help teach courses where a tenure-track professors might not be available.

The goals of adjunct professors vary depending on circumstances. Some start off as adjunct and are eventually offered a tenure-track position, while others choose adjunct to teach a subject they are passionate about or as supplemental income.

Adjuncts do not get the same benefits as tenure faculty, such as health insurance. They receive a lower pay than tenure professors and have flexible teaching hours. Many part-time professors on campus also teach at other schools to receive more income.

Some professors at CSUN express dismay at the process of getting tenure-track.

“It’s backward,” said Frederick Elias, a psychology professor. “When teachers start in a University system, they should be demanded to teach for five years, prove their mettle, get high evaluations, and impart important, applicable information. Then get tenured.”

For now, the push to hire more full time professors is ongoing and will continue until Hellenbrand’s approximate goal of 60-70 new hires is complete.