Faculty members deemed full-time

By Drew Hunt

The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences has officially joined The School of Fine and Performing Arts as well as The School of Media Arts in having an official ranking system that determines which instructors receive the title of professor.

Twelve faculty members in the School of LAS have officially been given the rank of professor by the college. Instructors in the Departments of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences, Science and Mathematics and English were selected based on the sterling achievements of their individual professional careers, said Deborah Holdstein, Dean of the School of LAS.

Holdstein was among the twelve faculty members to receive the rank of professor, along with Garnett Kilberg-Cohen, David Lazar, Karen Osborne, Jeff Schiff and Tony Trigilio of the English Department; Stephen Asma, Joan Erdman and Dominic Pacyga of the HHSS Department; and Charles Cannon, Pan Papacosta and Constantin Rasinariu of the Science and Mathematics Department.

Implementing a rank system in the School of LAS was an initiative led by Provost and Senior Vice President Steven Kapelke as well as Vice President of Academic Affairs Louise Love.

In an email sent to faculty members, Kapelke said those who earned the rank of professor have demonstrated excellence in their continued efforts as teachers, artists and scholars.

“Each [instructor] has…contributed significantly to the creation of a firm foundation for the college’s faculty rank system,” Kapelke said in the email.

Traditionally, when a college or university hires new faculty member, they become what is known as a tenure-track faculty member and is given the title of assistant professor of his or her particular discipline. According to Holdstein, in order to earn tenure, an instructor must demonstrate advanced proficiency in creative activity, teaching and service.

Upon earning tenure, the instructor earns the rank of associate professor and is then eligible to become a full professor in their particular department.

Because the School of LAS’ ranking system is fairly new, Holdstein said one of the first steps was to determine who might be qualified to become a full professor in his or her respective field. The college used an expedited process for its initial selections as opposed to a more customary ranking system.

“If there were people around the college who were exceptionally accomplished…those people could apply for full professorship before we actually had in place the regular process for applying,” Holdstein said.

But despite the unorthodox approach, Holdstein said the college chose worthy instructors to receive the rank of professor.

“[We used an expedited process], but that doesn’t mean those people didn’t have very careful review—they did,” Holdstein said. “We also got outside letters from scholars around the country, testifying to whether these people were qualified to become full professors in their respective disciplines. Those people more than met the criteria.”

Additionally, Holdstein said other professors from surrounding schools were consulted in the college’s selection process in order to ensure those chosen were suited for the rank.

Upon applying for the expedited process, Erdman said she was asked to submit letters of recommendation from her colleagues in and out of the academic community in order to cement her status as a qualified instructor.

“My letters from my colleagues all said ‘I thought she was already a full professor’,” Erdman said. “One of the reasons that hadn’t happened…is that we didn’t have rank. For me, what it means is it’s a kind of affirmation of what I’ve been doing.”

Erdman, who works in the field of anthropology, said while professors of in the School of LAS had received tenure, there was no ranking system in place to give them the title of professor. She said instituting a system was the next logical step.

“I think that it’s important for this college to recognize its faculty,” Erdman said. “And by recognize, I mean affirm their achievements, applaud their accomplishments and understand that in addition to teaching, faculty have professional careers and have an impact on their field, even beyond their students here.”

According to Holdstein, the most important aspect of implementing a ranking system in the School of LAS is that it reflects other institutes of higher learning.

“This is something that reflects what goes on in the profession at large,” Holdstein said. “We [now] have a recognizable standard and set of criteria and ways of identifying people of accomplishment that reflects what goes on at other major instructions of higher learning across the country. And that’s always good.”

Holdstein, Kapelke and other administrators are currently working on finalizing the rank system they will use in the future, which Holdstein said she hopes will go into practice in the next academic year.