Wednesday, July 22, 2015

University of Toronto Professor, teaching stream

After years of negotiation between the administration and the Faculty Association, the university has finally allowed full time lecturers to calls themselves "professors" [U of T introduces new teaching stream professorial ranks]. This brings my university into line with some other progressive universities that recognize the value of teaching.

Unfortunately, the news isn't all good. These new professors will have a qualifier attached to their titles. The new positions are: assistant professor (conditional), teaching stream; assistant professor, teaching stream; associate professor, teaching stream; and professor, teaching stream. Research and scholarly activity is an important component of these positions. The fact that the activity is in the field of pedagogy or the discipline in which they teach should not make a difference.

Meanwhile, current professors will not have qualifiers such as "professor: research," or "professor: administration," or "professor: physician," or "professor: mostly teaching."

The next step is to increase the status of these new professors by making searches more rigorous and more competitive, by keeping the salaries competitive with other professors in the university, and by insisting on high quality research and scholarly activity in the field of pedagogy. The new professors will have to establish an national and international reputation in their field just like other professors. They will have to publish in the pedagogical literature. They are not just lecturers. Almost all of them can do this if they are given the chance.

Some departments have to change the way they treat the new professors. The University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) has published a guideline: Teaching Stream Workload. Here's the part on research and scholarly activity ....
  • In section 7.2, the WLPP offers the following definition of scholarship: “Scholarship refers to any combination of discipline-based scholarship in relation to or relevant to the field in which the faculty member teaches, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and creative/professional activities. Teaching stream faculty are entitled to reasonable time for pedagogical/professional development in determining workload.”
  • It is imperative that teaching stream faculty have enough time in their schedules, that is, enough “space” in their appointments, to allow for the “continued pedagogical/professional development” that the appointments policy (PPAA) calls for. Faculty teaching excessive numbers of courses or with excessive administrative loads will not have the time to engage in scholarly activity. Remember that UTFA fought an Association grievance to win the right for teaching stream faculty to “count” their discipline-based scholarship. That scholarship “counts” in both PTR review and review for promotion to senior lecturer.
And here's a rule that many departments disobey ...
Under 4.1, the WLPP reminds us of a Memorandum of Agreement workload protection: “faculty will not be required to teach in all three terms, nor shall they be pressured to volunteer to do so.” Any faculty member who must teach in all three terms should come to see UTFA.


  1. Meanwhile, current professors will not have qualifiers such as "professor: research," or "professor: administration," or "professor: physician," or "professor: mostly teaching."

    At least in the US, "Research Professor" is an existing title designating a non-tenure track position focusing on research, in the same sense that "Lecturer" is used for non-tenure-track teaching positions.

  2. I went to a small college that prided itself on awarding tenure for teaching rather than research. I would say that most of the faculty took teaching seriously, even if it didn't always show in practice.

    Teaching is a bit like doing stand-up comedy. You have to adapt to an audience in real time. Without the aspect of performance, there would be no need for human teachers.

    The unhappy thing is that not everyone is a gifted performer.

    There are schools for performance arts and for public speaking. In my experience, most college level teachers think this is beneath their dignity.

    1. There's a lot more to good teaching than just performance.