February 20, 2018
In recent months, there has been an active discussion, and concerns have been expressed about the terms of employment for Santa Clara’s part-time and full-time adjunct lecturers. I write to you today to share relevant information about such appointments and convey Santa Clara University’s commitment to our adjunct faculty.
Adjunct lecturers, as defined in SCU’s Faculty Handbook, hold a teaching appointment for a fixed period of time, usually ranging from one academic term to one academic year. Often, an adjunct appointment is needed temporarily to replace faculty who are on sabbatical, a leave of absence, or an administrative assignment. Our professional schools also find it advantageous to appoint full-time Silicon Valley professionals as part-time adjunct lecturers so that in appropriate contexts, our students can learn from expert faculty steeped with practical experience in business, engineering, law, education, counseling psychology, or ministry.
Legitimate concerns have been expressed about the short-term nature of adjunct lecturer appointments. The University has worked to address these concerns through our collaborative governance system. In Spring 2010, the Faculty Affairs University Policy Committee proposed creating renewable-term lecturer appointments to provide greater stability of employment for lecturers, reduce the burden of repetitive searches, and better serve the needs of the student body. In addition, the Faculty Affairs Committee proposed establishing a clearly defined pathway for renewable-term lecturers to be promoted to the rank of senior lecturer. These revised appointment and promotion processes were all endorsed by the Faculty Senate and approved by the Provost, President, and Board of Trustees in June 2010.
Today, Santa Clara University’s faculty includes 67 renewable-term lecturers and 36 senior lecturers, of whom 21 were promoted to senior lecturer from an SCU renewable-term lecturer position. In addition, this year, 11 current academic-year adjunct lecturers who have taught at SCU for several years have been approved for renewable-term lecturer appointments for next year. Furthermore, over the years, several of SCU’s academic-year adjunct lecturers, renewable-term lecturers, and senior lecturers have successfully competed for and been appointed to tenure-track assistant professor positions.
Each year, the Provost’s Office asks the deans to review the terms for any full-time, academic-year adjunct lecturers (AYALs) who have been appointed at SCU for five or more years. As a result, approximately one dozen AYAL contracts were authorized this year for conversion from one-year terms to multi-year terms. Consequently, fewer than five AYALs who have had consecutive appointments for over 5 years will be offered a fixed-term contract in 2018-19 as short as one year.
Last quarter, largely in response to recommendations from the Committee on Lecturers and Adjuncts (appointed by the Faculty Senate Council) and the Faculty Affairs Committee, the University Coordinating Committee formed a Task Force on Best Practices for Lecturers to identify further ways to improve hiring protocols, job stability, service expectations, respect, and resources for lecturers. In addition, the Office of the Provost implemented one of the suggestions from the Committee on Lecturers and Adjuncts by expanding support for teaching grants, including the new Academic Year Adjunct Lecturer Professional Development grant program.
Santa Clara University has benefited in many ways from the collaborative relationship between the administration, the University Policy Committees, and the Faculty Senate. We are fortunate to have a system in place that allows members of the faculty to voice their concerns and suggestions – individually and collectively – and meaningfully influence and direct the operations and policies of the University. While no system is perfect, and we acknowledge that our current shared governance system is no exception, we are committed to listening to you, working together to understand our faculty members’ concerns, and making continual improvements in our shared work environment and campus climate. You are always welcome to reach out to me or others in my office with questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Recently, some have questioned whether Santa Clara’s faculty might be better served if they formed a collective bargaining unit represented by the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.). Let me begin by saying that as a Jesuit institution, we support the right of all the members of our community to freely and knowingly join peaceful outside organizations and associations. Our commitment to social justice and to the respect, dignity, and rights of all members of our community is unwavering. We accordingly respect the rights of our faculty members to make their own free and informed decisions regarding the question of unionization.
It is important, however, that such decisions be made with the most balanced, thorough and accurate information in mind. Towards that end, we are sharing responses to a number of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the potential unionization of adjunct faculty. We have also compiled a comparison of adjunct faculty salaries at Santa Clara University and at neighboring institutions whose faculty are represented by unions.
The Provost’s Office has posted comprehensive information about appointment processes and resources relevant to adjunct faculty. In the coming weeks, the Faculty Development Program will be hosting informational lunches for fixed-term lecturers on March 14 and 15 (RSVP here) and information sessions for multiple-year, renewable lecturers on March 7 and 8 (RSVP here). Please also feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
I wish you a productive and rewarding academic year.
Dennis C. Jacobs
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs