Majority of schools out of compliance with tenure rules

The majority of GW’s schools and colleges are out of compliance with University tenure requirement policies, pushing the respective schools to create new positions or launch new recruitment programs to come into compliance by 2012.

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, as well as all three schools within the Medical Center – the School of Nursing, the School of Public Health and Health Services, and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences – are out of compliance with requirements in the faculty code for long-serving faculty.

The faculty code requires that at least 50 percent of professors in each department be tenured or tenure-accruing, and it caps non-tenured professors at 25 percent of the school’s total active faculty.

One of GW’s newest schools, SPHHS, has been addressing this shortcoming since its creation in 1997. In 2005, only 39 percent of faculty members were employed as tenured or tenure-accruing faculty.

Provost Steven Lerman said “providing faculty with the time and resources to develop as teachers, scholars and active citizens in their departments” is key to forming a dedicated faculty base.

Lerman said the out of compliance schools have devised plans to hire more tenured or tenure-track faculty in the coming months and have expanded efforts to explain tenure requirements to young faculty.

“Tenure is the most important decision a university makes with regard to its young faculty,” Lerman said. “It weighs teaching, research and service in the faculty member’s chosen field.”

To increase the tenure rating of SPHHS, which stands 7 percentage points below its target after 17 years of non-compliance, Dean Lynn Goldman said the school has several recruitment plans for tenure-track faculty under way, as well as others that she hopes to launch next year.

“We believe we will hit the 75 [percent] target by 2012, however, we want to make sure we are being very selective so that we are building the excellence of our school in addition to attempting to achieve the required ratio,” she said.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development, which has been out of compliance for nearly a decade, aims to achieve tenure requirements through targeted hiring.

“For summer and fall 2011 faculty hires, we are only searching for tenure-accruing faculty. Our commitment moving forward is to continue to request tenure-accruing lines for future hires,” Jane Bornhorst, director of communications for GSEHD, said.

An estimated 66 percent of all regular, active-status faculty in GSEHD are on tenure-accruing lines, a significant jump from its rate of 59 percent in 2002, she said.

CCAS stands on the brink of achieving tenure compliance, coming in this year at 73 percent, only 2 percent below the minimum requirement.

The school will create five tenure-track positions for new faculty and continue efforts to encourage tenure in current faculty.

“We take a careful look at the record of each non-tenured faculty member annually and provide feedback on their performance. Formally there is a third-year review that provides an opportunity for more detailed feedback on the progress towards tenure and the expectations,” Dean Peg Barratt of CCAS said.

John Curtis, director of the Office of Research and Public Policy for the American Association of University Professors, explained that higher tenure rates create a stronger feeling of connection to a university.

“It’s a matter of ensuring that faculty members are committed to building the university as an institution, as opposed to faculty members who are worried about whether they’ll have a job next year,” Curtis said.

Non-tenured professors at GW almost always have larger course loads, according to data from the GW Office of Institutional Research, and generally have less control over their academic agendas.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.