A Letter of Support from a Tenured Faculty Member at UM-Dearborn
By Jen Proctor, Associate Professor, Journalism and Screen Studies, UM-Dearborn
Early on in my seven years at UM-Dearborn, I came to understand that our LEO lecturers are the powerhouse of the institution. Overwhelmingly, they are students’ first contact at the university as they teach our gateway and general education courses. They foster developing skills among our students as they teach our advanced courses. They assume incredible amounts of grading with their larger teaching loads, and often become involved in more service than their contract allows. They are left with little time to pursue their own research, making it more difficult to transition out of lecturer positions into jobs with security that we all desire. All this, and with the same qualifications as many tenure-track faculty, but for lower pay. As a tenured member of the UM-Dearborn faculty, I support our LEO lecturers, and urge my TT colleagues to do the same.
Supporting our LEO lecturers is not just the right thing to achieve equity for the work they do. It’s mutually beneficial for both groups.
By raising the salaries of Lec Is, we slow the turnover rate of these lecturers, providing a more sustainable career path for lecturers while reducing the workload of TT faculty who have to search for a hire these instructors. Assuming a 40 hour workweek, a portion of new lecturers earn only $15/hour for a full load.
Increasing the number of Lec IIIs and IVs would not only provide equitable job opportunities for lecturers, but add members to programs and departments who can aid in service, thus reducing the service burden for all.
Reducing superfluous performance reviews and streamlining the review process – with, of course, clear expectations for the requirements of the new review process – would not only reduce the workload for lecturers, but for their review committees.
Requiring current qualified lecturers to be offered additional courses before hiring new lecturers to cover those classes would reduce the number of (often involuntary) part-time lecturers. More full-time lecturers means better pay and less stress on lecturers who often split time among many campuses, away from their families, and less of a load on TT faculty who must hire and juggle the schedules of many part-time instructors.
At a basic level supporting our lecturers is about supporting our colleagues in earning a living wage, a right that we all deserve. But it also strengthens our university, our student body, our communities, and the families within our communities. It’s a win-win.