USC’s RTPC Faculty Policies and Practices

A voice for RTPC Faculty

  • The Academic Senate Committee on RTPC Faculty Affairs in its 2009 White Paper noted that the committee’s reports have been “influential in bringing about significant changes in a short amount of time.” USC was chosen as the example of “a Senate-led path to change” by the Delphi Project’s study of how campus communities work to change RTPC policies and practices. The Delphi Project pointed to collaboration at USC among the RTPC committee, the Academic Senate, and the Provost’s office, to “highlight the path and change agents involved in helping to facilitate positive change.”
  • The Senate Committee on Part-time Faculty Affairs initiated the wide-ranging Senate resolution on Part-time Faculty policies and procedures.
  • Whenever a faculty member believes there has been unfairness,  he or she can ask the Senate’s Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee (co-chaired by RTPC and tenured faculty)  to intercede. Others a faculty member can turn to for assistance or advice include the Academic Senate President (who, next year, will be RTPC) or another Senate officer, the school faculty council chair, the Faculty Mediation Officer or the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.   Faculty who Faculty Handbookbelieve their rights have been violated can also bring a grievance through the Academic Senate, as provided in Faculty Handbook chapter 7, and full academic due process will be provided by a faculty committee.
  • Other Senate committees  work for large-scale improvements. Suggestions to change policies or practices can be made through the Senate RTPC Committee or Part-time Faculty Committee. Suggestions may also be made to the Senate Committee on Faculty Environment on areas such as the terms of faculty employment, compensation,  retention, and faculty contracts. The Senate Executive Board meets three times a month, considering a wide range of faculty issues.
  • RTPC are eligible to serve on every university-level committee, every school’s faculty council, and the Academic Senate. See Faculty Handbook § 4-C(2)(¶3). USC regards this as valuable university work whether or not “service” happens to be called out in the individual’s contract.
  • For many years, the annual call for nominations for university-level committees has included part-time as well as full-time faculty, non-tenure-track along with tenured. Non-tenure-track faculty, part-time as well as full-time, are now serving as committee members as well as the director, and other fellows, of the Center for Excellence in Teaching. (For part-time faculty paid hourly, time attending a committee or council as member is to be reported in Workday so it can be compensated like any other university work.)
  • The Faculty Handbook’s 2014 amendments, § 4-C(2)(¶3) , mandate that each school must have active participation by non-tenure-track faculty members in faculty governance, including RTPC guidelines. In most schools, RTPC have long served as faculty council members and officers, and in at least seven schools RTPC have been elected to serve as chair.
  • Over the last several years, about half of the top leadership of the Academic Senate is RTPC.
  • Each school’s RTPC guidelines are formulated after the recommendation of the faculty council, a faculty committee, or the entire faculty, in each case including both tenured and RTPC faculty. The Senate Executive Board advises the Provost before the guidelines are approved, under Faculty Handbook § 4-G(2).

Job security and benefits

  • Multi-year contracts, granted with RTPC promotion, are in use in most of the university.
  • Promotional tracks for part-time faculty as well as full-time are now authorized by the 2014 amendments to the Faculty Handbook, § 4-B(2) nn. 2 & 3.
  • The benefits policy extends full benefits to faculty working a 50% schedule.
  • A reduced rate one-day-a-week parking permit is available.
  • It is the University’s longstanding expectation that faculty who are close to a 50% schedule be offered work that brings them to 50% and eligibility for full benefits, if they wish that and if it can reasonably be done. There is a similar expectation as to those close to a 100% schedule.
  • For those with annual contracts, on the recommendation of a school faculty council, starting 2015-6 there is a new option under which contracts will roll over unless there is an affirmative decision with 90 days notice not to reappoint.
  • Under existing practice non-reappointment of long serving RTPC is extremely rare. Faculty Handbook § 4-G(2)(¶2) requires that non-reappointment of faculty on full-time appointments can only be done after consideration by a faculty committee, and the adequacy of the process is also reviewed by the Provost’s office.
  •  If it unfortunately becomes necessary to terminate early an RTPC faculty member,  Faculty Handbook § 4-G(3) require 90 days notice or pay in lieu. Staff, on the other hand, are not entitled to notice but get severance pay according to a formula. The Senate RTPC committee has begun discussions of extending severance pay to faculty non-reappointments, along with notice.

Earnings

  • As part of our regular process, several schools plan raises for part-time teachers to take effect in the coming year.
  • A school’s salary increase pool comes from the increased tuition income each year. (Major donors for the capital campaign generally target their generosity– for research or teaching buildings, dorms, scholarships, research institutes, endowed chairs — and their gifts often come in as pledges or endowment, not in immediately spendable cash.)
  • Deans are required to do regular benchmarking of salaries against peer institutions, to ensure that we have pay rates in every school worthy of our excellent faculty.
  • The Senate RTPC committee (as it was then known) recommended in 2006 that we phase out the use of part-time faculty teaching at multiple institutions. See Faculty Handbook § 4-B(4)(¶1). Nevertheless, recognizing that not every instance of outside teaching is the same, 2014 amendments to the Faculty Handbook, § 3-I(4) provided the opportunity for Provost office consideration of individual cases, and approval is granted in appropriate cases.
  • For part-timers paid hourly, our firm policy is that all hours worked should be reported and will without doubt be compensated, even if that is more hours than stated in the contract. If such a situation occurs there will be follow-up to determine if the time expectations should be changed, or if there is a way for the work to be done more efficiently.
  • Pay of part-time teachers can be increased in several ways. It can happen individually through a merit raise, as well as through promotion to a higher part-time rank,  or additional part-time assignments, or opportunity for a full-time appointment. It can also happen generally through the periodic benchmarking each school does.

Equity

  • The Provost’s office has long done an annual double-check of individual salaries to look for apparent inequities; with the new Workday system the Provost’s office is creating a method so it can review individual part-time as well as full-time salaries.
  • The university’s principle is that RTPC and tenured faculty be treated alike as to eligibility for prizes, awards and fellowships, making decisions on the basis of merit and not status, and all full-time faculty, tenured or RTPC, are treated equally as to fringe benefits. Faculty Handbook § 4-C(2)(¶2).
  • RTPC faculty who work 50% or more receive full-time benefits.

Evaluation

  • The Provost approved the principles of a Senate proposal that teaching be evaluated through methods more meaningful than student surveys.  Faculty councils are being asked to report on progress in implementing those principles.

Academic freedom

  • The Faculty Handbook, § 3-B(1)(a), guarantees that academic freedom protects all faculty. This includes RTPC as well as tenured, and part-time as well as full-time, faculty.