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Many ASU faculty to be renewed for 1 year only

Contracted faculty members at ASU could see more single-year contracts offered instead of multiyear contracts, as administrators weigh options to reduce the budget.

Multiyear contracts held by many lecturers do not offer the University enough budget flexibility, said Mark Searle, vice president of academic personnel.

“We need to move more of them to year-to-year [contracts],” he said. “We have to have some better opportunity to be flexible.”

Administrators are working with deans to identify which lecturers have long-term commitments to the University that may require multi-year contracts, Searle said, but the trend is toward annual contracts.

The plans were announced to contract faculty members earlier this semester and are being implemented as contracts expire, he said. The University will honor all current contracts.

The Arizona Board of Regents allows universities to contract faculty members from one to three years at a time. Searle said ASU currently has 253 lecturers on multiyear contracts. He could not say how many of those will be switched to single-year contracts in the near future.

Philip VanderMeer, president of the faculty senate, said the University had no alternative but to reduce contracts because of the budget cuts passed by the state Legislature.

“Nobody was thinking about anything like this until we started facing the potential of draconian cuts,” he said. “The University has to be able to respond in some fashion.”

By reducing contract lengths, he said each year the administrators could review the amount of contracted faculty the budget can support.

“There’s not some expectation that there’s going to be substantial layoffs of people, but there may be some,” he said.

Contracted faculty members make up more than one-third of ASU faculty, he said, and include mainly lecturers, clinical professors and professors of practice.

These faculty members are typically focused on instruction and can be a core part of education, especially in the English and math departments and in Barrett, the Honors College, VanderMeer said.

Elizabeth Jones, a senior lecturer in math and statistics, said this is not the best way to manage the budget crisis because of how important lecturers are to education.

“Many of the lecturers and instructors are the ones who are teaching … most of the freshman and sophomore classes,” she said.

Administrators may decide the University does not need as many lecturers as it has now, she said, but that could mean larger classes with fewer sections.

“I don’t know that it’s really going to be a solution,” she said.

Many lecturers planned on renewing multiyear contracts, she said, but those plans were canceled with the news of more single-year contracts.

But even if those plans were changed, Jones said she was not surprised when the University announced the trend toward shorter contracts.

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