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Bloomington Faculty Council approves motion for third lecturer rank


Faculty members raise their hand in agreement with a proposed new lecturer rank during the Bloomington Faculty Council meeting. The March 27 meeting was moved from its original location in Franklin Hall to Studio 6 in the Radio and Television Building.  Ty Vinson Buy Photos

The Bloomington Faculty Council approved a motion to create a third rank of lecturer at this week’s meeting in Studio 6 at the Radio-Television Building.

Members of the council discussed the creation of the third rank, the process of promotion to the third rank and the title of the rank.

The new lecturer rank would be a promotion from Senior Lecturer. At a previous meeting, Alan Dennis, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, said the rank would give faculty additional recognition and prestige. 

Presidents Hall, where the meeting typically takes place, was already booked for a Patten Lecture Tuesday evening on "Universities in Crisis." There was not enough time to change the room setup for the lecture. Therefore, council members discussed the proposals under scores of studio lights. 

“Won't You Be My Neighbor” from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" kicked off the meeting. 

“Because Mr. Rogers is always good to hear,” Provost Lauren Robel said.

Proposed new lecturer rank

The council approved two of the three motions to create a third lecturer rank. 

The first motion created the new lecturer rank and specified criteria for appointments. Only four council members were not in favor, and 42 were in favor. Robel voted in favor of the motion.

Approving the new rank does not mean the third rank is immediately created. The University Faculty Council must first approve the new rank, and then the IU Board of Trustees will have to approve the proposal as well. 

The second motion, which passed, specified the process for promotion to a third rank. The third motion was discussed but not voted on. It will be voted on at BFC’s April 3 meeting. 

The proposal to create the new rank drew tense discussion from council members. 

Rebecca Spang, a professor in the Department of History, said she feared administrators and tenured faculty benefited from the proposed change more than lecturers because lecturers are cheap and some tenured faculty can buy themselves out of teaching. Spang stood for most of the meeting.

“We now have what I would call a peculiar institution of underpaid and overworked individuals who do an increasingly large percentage of the undergraduate teaching on this campus,” Spang said. “I cannot condone the expansion of this exploitative and nondemocratic system.”

In an immediate response to Spang’s comments, J Duncan, a senior lecturer in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering said that non-tenure track faculty do benefit from the changes.

Duncan said he is teaching because he enjoys teaching, not because teaching is a phase he is going through. He said he teaches so he can support the same students who Spang claimed don't benefit from his existence or presence on campus.

“You do not use the language of slavery to describe us, because we are not slaves unless you choose to make us so,” Duncan said.  

Other business

In response to the anonymous flier titled “The Black Paper” tacked outside BFC’s office and at the Indiana Memorial Union last week, Faculty President Alex Tanford suggested ways for students and faculty to get involved in the council and voice their opinion. 

The flier asks why it has taken so long to implement a required general education course on diversity in the U.S. for IU students. According to the flier, BFC passed a resolution in the spring of 2017 requiring every school on the IU-Bloomington campus to fulfill the requirement.

Tanford said the paper comes just ahead of the five-year review of general education requirements, which will address the issue. 

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