With the threat of a lecturer walk-out occurring tomorrow,
students still remain unclear on how lecturers differ from
tenure-track professors.

“Sometimes I can’t tell the difference and when I
do, I don’t think (professors are) better; it’s just a
different style. I think professors are more abstract and lecturers
are more concrete,” Rackham student Mike Galloway said.

Lecturers’ Employee Organization negotiations last ended
Monday with little breakthroughs in agreements. Both sides are
expected to meet again this afternoon, hoping to avert
tomorrow’s one-day strike.

Most lecturers are classified on a scale of one to three,
depending on seniority. Lecturers at level one must have their
contract renewed every term, while those at level two have
contracts for one year. If they stay at the University long enough
to reach level three, they have contracts for three to five
years.

LEO also includes adjunct faculty members. These are instructors
who work part-time; many teach only one class a week.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said LEO comprises a large
range of faculty, but their one distinct characteristic is the lack
of tenure.

English lecturer Margaret Dean said most lecturers hope to
receive tenure, but that economic conditions prevent everyone from
receiving tenure.

Associate and assistant professors, however, are on the tenure
track. While teaching, they are also working on independent
research in order to become full professors.

Physics Prof. Myron Campbell said the tenure process is
difficult at all universities. “Actually, to achieve tenure
you need to prove that you can do independent research,”
Campbell said.

For humanities scholars this means publishing a book, and for
scientists it means pursuing research, Campbell added.

A lecturer does not necessarily do less work than a professor,
but it is different work, said Campbell. Lecturers focus primarily
on teaching rather than research, which can be an advantage, said
Campbell.

“Sure, I mean for someone who loves to do teaching
it’s a great opportunity. If teaching is what you love to do
and if it’s what you’re passion is there are lots of
benefits,” Campbell added.

LSA sophomore Julie Christopher said lecturers’ emphasis
on teaching greatly influences their students as well.

“I think they teach … better because they can
donate more time just to teaching,” Christopher said.

Not all students, however, agree with Christopher. Kinesiology
sophomore James Muldoon said he believes tenure-track professors
are more knowledgeable about the subjects they teach.

“I prefer professors, they seem more informed on topics.
They are not necessarily reading power point all the time,”
Muldoon said.

But whether or not students prefer professors, being a lecturer
has definite drawbacks, said English lecturer Margaret Dean. These
problems include low pay and the lack of job security and benefits,
which are being addressed in LEO’s current negotiations with
the University.

LSA senior Neal Lyons said he was put through a lot of
instability growing up as the son of a lecturer who did not get
tenure.

“My father has been a professor for 30 years. Because he
has never got tenure … in 18 years we lived in 12
places,” Lyons said.

Dean said because the job market in academia is so tight, her
current primary goal is to raise the status of lecturers through
advocating for lecturers’ rights rather than try to become
tenured herself.

“Most lecturers hope to have (tenure) someday. But
realistically we know there are not enough positions for all of us.
But in the meantime we want to raise the positions of
lecturers,” Dean said.

Despite tenure’s value, adjunct political science lecturer
Lawrence Greene said he is unique in that he is not pursuing a
tenured position.

“I don’t want tenure. This is a second career for
me. I had a career for over 30 years. I practiced law, when I
retired I decided there were many things I was interested in. I
felt I had something to offer people who were interested in
law,” Greene said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.