YALE: Extend appointments for non-tenure-track instructional faculty!
To President Salovey and Provost Strobel:
We call on the University to extend or renew the appointments of all current non-tenure-track faculty through the 2020-21 academic year. Many instructional faculty have one-year or multiyear appointments that expire at the end of this Spring 2020 semester. Amid the worsening COVID-19 crisis, these faculty, who are essential to the University's teaching mission, will lose their main source of income and health insurance. The national rise in unemployment and decision by many universities — including Yale — to implement a hiring freeze make it unlikely that these faculty will find another job inside or outside academia by June 30, 2020, when expiring contracts end at Yale. We believe Yale has an immediate interest as well as an ethical obligation to support its instructional faculty for the duration of the pandemic.
The Yale community has reacted to the crisis with remarkable flexibility and ingenuity. In less than two weeks, tenure-track and instructional faculty in all departments redesigned courses to facilitate their transition online. Students moved off campus to continue their studies from home. Staff prepared campus buildings and administrative offices for closure. We have all contributed to the continued remote functioning of the University, and we have done so in conditions of mounting physical risk and psychological stress.
Recognizing the disruption caused by the pandemic, the University has already extended the tenure clock for ladder faculty. According to Provost Strobel's message to FAS ladder faculty on March 21, "Yale will grant to tenure-track faculty ... a one-year extension to their current appointment." The University's reasoning for this policy is sound: tenure-track faculty will now need additional time to present at conferences, write grant proposals, publish articles, and revise manuscripts—all necessary elements for promotion. Because of the precarity of their work, instructional faculty are under even more pressure to balance teaching with research production in order to compete for permanent positions. The few who eventually secure permanent positions spend five years, on average, piecing together teaching gigs while struggling to join the ladder ranks. Far more are forced to make ends meet while dedicating themselves to teaching with no prospects for joining the tenure-track. We believe that the same one-year extension policy should apply to all faculty ranks, ensuring employment for instructional faculty through the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
Most faculty at Yale are now focused on retooling courses for online learning, often for the first time. So are contingent instructional faculty. Unlike their tenure-track colleagues, however, many contingent faculty are being asked to do so without knowing how they will meet their families' basic needs for food, shelter, income, and healthcare eight weeks from now. In addition to concentrating on their courses, faculty on expiring contracts are compelled to apply for jobs that have never been more scarce. They are forced to scramble for healthcare that has never been so vital for so many. Instructional faculty are being asked, in short, to provide educational continuity for their students with no provision from the University for continued access to employment or healthcare beyond June 30 amid the ongoing crisis.
Provost Strobel's message to Vice Presidents, Deans, Directors, and Lead Administrators on March 30 declared that "Our objective is to focus support on our existing faculty, students, and staff." In keeping with that objective the Provost further announced that “We are pausing University-wide hiring for open faculty and staff positions until the end of the academic year ... except for rare exceptions.” We believe that the University's objective is achievable only by making a University-wide exception to support existing instructional faculty. We ask that the University administration make good on its word by using its considerable resources to extend the appointments of existing instructional faculty by one year. We do so in solidarity with the Yale graduate students similarly calling on the University to support them by extending their funding. These acts literally could be life-saving.
Instructional (non-tenure-track) faculty
Researcher (e.g., postdoc, staff scientist)
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