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UI Faculty accepts report from UI Lecturers Committee

BY CINDY GARCIA | APRIL 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa Faculty Senate reviewed a newly released report from the Lecturer Committee on Tuesday, which lists a series of recommendations to alleviate the dissatisfactions being experienced by the group.

The meeting opened with a reminder that no lasting decisions would be made, but the Lecturer Committee would also continue next year.

“Our main focus today is to accept the report, not to say yay or nay to the recommendations,” said Alexandra Thomas, a clinical associate professor of internal medicine and the president of the Faculty Council and Senate.

The Lecturer Committee listed six main themes and recommendations in its report. Such themes included representation, hiring, retention, promotion, compensation, workload, professional development, and grievances.

“These problems that we’re addressing here are not necessarily specific to the University of Iowa. I’m sure you’re all aware that this adjunct-lecturer issue is something that’s becoming an issue nationwide,” said Meara Habashi, a UI psychology lecturer on the committee.

A survey distributed last spring indicated that while 54 percent of lecturers felt satisfied with their position at the UI, 67 percent acknowledged that challenges associated with the lecturer position needed to be addressed.

Among these challenges are workloads and salary.

“Workload and compensation should be clearly linked, but workload increase doesn’t always result in a salary increase,” said Anne Stapleton, the head of the committee and an English lecturer.

A cited example from the report was a survey response that detailed a lecturer’s salary being only $500 above the free and reduced lunch qualification in the Iowa City School District.

Habashi said gender and salary issues are often compounded together. She also said that lecturers continually say yes to larger workloads out of fear — “We’re too afraid not to because we have such huge instability.”

“I think it’s worth noting as well that on this campus, that students, staff, and most faculty have access to grievance procedures, so we’re the only group on campus that doesn’t have access to that,” Habashi said. “If we were included in the faculty group, a lot of those issues might be resolved.”
While many members did not see any complications in changing the UI Operations Manual to include lecturers in the term “faculty,” others were more cautious.

“The Operations Manual is a mess. I mean, we just have to start with that,” said Christina Bohannan, the vice ppresident of the Faculty Senate. “Particularly regarding the definitions of faculty. It’s pretty amazing. I’m a lawyer, and I’m used to dealing with complicated language and it’s tough, there’s no question about it.”

One professor said the process could take longer to get things right.

“So the devil’s in the details. I think the principle’s fine, but working it out is going to take a little bit of time,” said Richard Fumerton, a F. Wendell Miller professor and past president of the Faculty Senate.


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