Marquette will not renew a “single digit percentage” of non-tenure track faculty contracts

A+single+digit+percentage+of+current+non-tenure+track+faculty+contracts+will+not+be+renewed

A “single digit percentage” of current non-tenure track faculty contracts will not be renewed

Marquette University has decided not to renew contracts for a “single digit percentage” of current full time non-tenure-track faculty.

In the March 22 university Academic Senate meeting, Provost Kimo Ah Yun specifically declined to release the number of faculty whose contracts will not be renewed. However, Ah Yun did state that the non-renewals would save the university $1.6 million.

Non-tenure-track faculty who did not have their contracts renewed were notified over the past two weeks. That process has concluded,” Kevin Conway, university spokesperson, said in an email.

As of Nov. 10 2020, Marquette had 299 full time non-tenure-track faculty members. Since the non-renewals comprised a “single digit percentage” of current full time non-tenure-track faculty, 1 to 9% of 299 would be between 3 and 27 non-tenure-track faculty members. Marquette administration did not release the exact number despite multiple attempts from the Wire. 

Non-tenure track refers to faculty that are have contracts renewed normally on an annual or semester to semester basis. They often make up a large portion of the teaching faculty at a university.

These non-renewals come after the university announced it will receive stimulus funds from the federal government. The university is expected to receive $17.3 million from the American Rescue Act, the most recent stimulus package, in addition to the $6.4 million that the university received for institutional relief in the last stimulus package.

A portion of the $17.3 million will be set aside to be used exclusively for student grants, as mandated by the federal government, but the other part will be available for the university to spend on a variety of different things. This includes things such as keeping employees on payroll. The university has yet to say how it plans to use the funds from either stimulus package.

At Marquette, non-tenure-track faculty are commonly contracted on an annual basis. The reason the university has given the non-renewals is due to the smaller incoming class last year and an expected smaller incoming class for the fall of 2021.

“With fewer students, the demand for class sections has decreased, resulting in some non-tenure-track faculty annual contracts not being renewed,” Conway said in an email. 

This year’s first year class was 1,647 students. That’s the lowest enrollment since 1997.

Even with the elimination of staff, Conway said in an email that “Marquette made these decisions with great care, both for the impacted individuals and to ensure class sizes remain small for our students.”

However, other Marquette community members have concerns over how the contract non-renewals will affect the student experience.

Doug Smith, assistant professor of practice in the College of Business Administration, believes that the recent trends of lower enrollment wasn’t a good reason to eliminate non-tenure-track faculty positions. 

“With proper planning and a recognition that Marquette’s future depends on academic excellence delivered by experienced faculty, the university could have retained all NTT faculty until a plan to restore undergraduate enrollments to historical levels is put in place,” Smith said in an email.

Different faculty members have also voiced their opinions on how these non-contract renewals will impact classroom experiences.

It might be convenient to pretend that we cannot renew non-tenure-track faculty and everything will be the same. I think that that portrays very little understanding of what happens at the level of the classroom and the level of planning curricula,” Phillip Rocco, assistant professor of political science, said.

In addition to Rocco, other faculty members believe that reduction in the number of non-tenure-track faculty could have negative effects on Marquette students.

“Students should look out for bigger class sizes, fewer course options, and the shrinking of programs, especially in the humanities and social sciences,” Brittany Pladek, assistant professor of English, said in an email.

It’s not only faculty that worry how these non-renewals will impact the university. Will Knox, a senior in the College of Communication, said these reductions in staff will “directly affect” the theater program. As, these non-renewals will remove certain theater faculty.

“How we do shows is entirely up in the air now and there needs to be a better plan moving forward,” Knox said in an email. “In terms of the whole university, I think everybody needs to know that it could happen to any college and any professor/faculty at Marquette.”  

This story was written by Megan Woolard. She can be reached at megan.woolard@marquette.edu