Senate asks for more tenured positions

Shane Finneran

City College’s Academic Senate joined a district-wide call for the hiring of more tenured professors with the Oct. 25 endorsement of a resolution originally passed at Mesa College.

The resolution, which was also endorsed by senates at Miramar and the districts Continuing Education programs, urges the San Diego Community College District administration to open “a substantial number of new tenure-line positions.” The SDCCD has not opened any such positions since instituting a hiring freeze during the 2007-2008 academic year.

The resolution’s author, Jonathan McLeod, professor and department chair at Mesa College, said full-time focus on a single campus offers tenured instructors “more sustained involvement in the colleges” than adjuncts, who often work on multiple campuses for short periods of time. He acknowledged that adding tenured positions would likely mean subtracting a greater number of adjunct positions and reducing the overall number of classes available.

“To meet increased costs for hiring tenure-line faculty, the district would have to scale back proportionally on the number of sections offered,” McLeod said in an e-mail interview. “But the long-term benefits would outweigh the short-term gains from continued erratic cycles of hiring adjunct faculty to teach hastily planned sections and then subsequently laying them off.”

Chancellor Constance Carroll said she “completely” agrees with the call for more tenured positions but doesn’t see the necessary funding coming for “at least another year.”

“Given the state’s continuing budget crisis, it is unlikely that we will have a steady income of new dollars that would enable us to add permanent, full-time faculty positions at this time,”she said in an e-mail interview.

Carroll noted that the hiring freeze has allowed the district to avoid laying off any full-time faculty or staff members in the years since the economic slump began, despite a $30 million reduction in annual funding from the state.

McLeod said that, in the face of budget cuts, the district cut the number of classes offered by 10 percent for academic year 2009-2010, significantly reducing the number of sections taught by adjuncts. The corresponding reduction in compensation payments to adjuncts risked dropping total instructor compensation payments below a threshold required by state law.

To be compliant in the 2010-2011 academic year, the district added back hundreds of sections, dipping into reserve funds to pay adjuncts to teach the sections — an approach McLeod said “is not sustainable.” He said he thinks the district should hire more tenured professors, which would more formally commit a larger proportion of funding to instructor compensation.

“The issue is how the money is divided,” McLeod said.

City College professor Brian Sos, adjunct officer on the Academic Senate, said he agrees with the resolution, “especially as a position statement for administrators to consider,” as they make budget plans.

He also said he thinks additional tenured positions would be a boon for adjuncts.

“Full-time positions are important opportunities for part-time faculty who wish to be full-time,” Sos said. “City College adjunct instructors are strong candidates for these positions, should they be opened.”

According to McLeod, schools and students also benefit from a higher tenured-to-adjunct ratio. Long-term employment at a single school allows instructors to engage more fully in activities such as “teaching and consulting with students, professional service in committee work, curriculum revision (and) peer evaluation.”