Tenured Assistant Professors

Categories: Assistant Professors, Bargaining Updates 2014, Tenure

While the parties have agreed on many issues there are a number of issues still in dispute. On some of these issues the parties are likely to engage in further discussion that might lead to resolution, others will have to be decided by an Arbitrator. Please note that any items agreed to at the bargaining table will not be implemented until the interest arbitration is complete. This is the nineteenth in a series of blog posts to discuss both the matters that have been agreed to and those that are still in dispute, and the eleventh dealing with matters still in dispute.

This blog pertains to a proposal that the University has made in at least the past three rounds of bargaining. It concerns Part 4 Article 2.03(f)(ii) which reads: “if an appointee is not granted a tenured appointment pursuant to (i) above, then in the seventh year of service a recommendation either to grant a tenured appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor or otherwise, or not to renew the appointment, must be made.” The University’s proposal is to modify that clause so that it would no longer be possible to grant tenure at the rank of Assistant Professor.

With respect to the first point the Association does understand the concept of “industry standard.” Fewer research universities allow tenured Assistants than prohibit them. But UBC is not a leader in industry standard collective agreement language. For instance, our workload language is simply out of whack with industry standard, and especially with the University of Toronto. And second, the question is “what mischief is being done if someone is tenured as an Assistant Professor”? Not only do we not think any harm comes from allowing people to be tenured as Assistant Professors, we think it serves a very useful purpose in allowing departments to keep valued members who, for one reason or another, are not quite ready for promotion to Associate, but are meeting the standard for tenure.

With respect to the second point, UBC is regularly ranked as one of the top universities in the world. Does anybody really think our reputation is in any way affected by the fact that a few members are tenured as Assistants first, before being promoted to Associates? Or even that a very few people who are tenured as Assistants remain tenured Assistants for ten years or more? Some very high profile members of the UBCV campus have in fact been tenured without being promoted. And gone on to be highly productive at the University.

Now to the third point, that the people who have been tenured at the Assistant rank are unworthy and should have been dismissed instead of tenured. At the bargaining table it’s not uncommon to hear our members demeaned, and called names like “deadwood.” It’s something you get used to. But to sit there and hear that a number of our members, loyal valued employees, would have been dismissed if the University had had its way is pretty cold.

Anyway, we understand the University’s position, but we haven’t agreed to it. The University can withdraw it, or take it to arbitration.

Next up on the blog: Librarians

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