The University Record, April 16, 1996


Note: This feature appears semi-regularly in The Record. See the end of this article for more information.

Lecturers - The University of Michigan's Fastest Growing Faculty Group

This article is based upon the 1995 "Report on Non-Tenure-Track Teaching Faculty at the University of Michigan" prepared by the Michigan AAUP Chapter's Subcommittee on the Changing Nature of the Professoriate. Members of the subcommittee were Ronald J. Lomax, professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Esperanza Ramirez -Christensen, associate professor of Japanese literature; Ann E. Savageau, lecturer III in Art; Brian B. Schmidt, assistant professor of the Hebrew Bible; and Charles B. Smith, professor of pharmacology.


Lecturers are the most rapidly growing group within the "teaching faculty" of the University of Michigan. Michigan's Regental Bylaws define the "teaching faculty" as those individuals with titles of assistant professor, associate professor, professor, instructor and lecturer. Although many others contribute to teaching at Michigan, including graduate student teaching assistants and faculty with adjunct, primary research or visiting appointments, this article focuses on those formally designated as teaching faculty. Unlike other members of the teaching faculty, lecturers are employed mainly to teach, and their appointments are not associated with tenure or the potential of achieving tenure. Overall, the total number of teaching faculty members at Michigan grew by 17.3 percent (from 2980 to 3496) in the seven-year period between the 1987­88 and the 1994­95 academic years. The increase in the number of lecturers (from 270 to 590) accounted for 62.0 percent of this growth over the seven-year period. During the 1994­95 academic year, lecturers accounted for 16.9 percent of all teaching faculty at Michigan with appointments greater than zero percent, and lecturers with "full-time" appointments (80 percent or greater, academic year) accounted for 13.8 percent of all teaching faculty with full-time appoin tments.

The proportion of lecturers within the teaching faculty of the U-M far exceeds the proportion of lecturers within the faculties of comparable institutions of higher education in the United States. In its "Annual Re port on the Economic Status of the Profession1994­95" ( Academe, March/April 1995), the AAUP classifies the University of Michigan as a public, category I (doctoral-degree granting) university. According to that report, lecturers make up on average 3.0 percent of the full-time faculties of the 139 public, category I institutions included in the 1994­95 AAUP survey (5.5 percent of 2,550 institutions in the survey). Thus, using the AAUP system of classification, the University of Michigan has more than four times as many lecturers on its teaching faculty as do comparable universities. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) of the United States Department of Education uses a different method of classifying institutions of higher education (the Carnegie system of classification) in which Michigan is considered to be a public research university. According to the last NCES faculty survey conducted in fall 1992, full-time lecturers comprised on average 4.2 percent of the full-time faculties of the 71 public research universities included in that survey (2.2 percent of 3187 institutions in the survey). Therefore, whether one uses AAUP statistics or NCES statistics, Michigan stands apart from other institutions of its kind in the United States with respect to the large number of lecturers it employs to assist with its teaching mission.


Where lecturers work
The largest number of lecturers at the U-M is found in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LS&A), where the 290 lecturers comprise 27.4 percent of the teaching faculty. The second largest number is in the Medical School (131), where lecturers comprise 15.3 percent of the teaching faculty. A much smaller unit, the School of Nursing, however, has the largest proportion of lecturers (36.8 percent) on its faculty. In that unit the number of lecturers nearly tripled (from 11 to 32) during the seven-year period covered by the AAUP study. Lecturers also make up a sizable proportion of the teaching faculties on the Dearborn (17.1 percent) and Flint (16.3 percent) campuses. In contrast, some units, such as the Law School, the School of Natural Resources and Environment, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Social Work, and the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, have no lecturers within the ranks of their teaching faculties.


Part-time versus full-time employment
Both at Michigan and at comparable public research institutions the proportion of lecturers with full-time appointments is lower than for any other group in the teaching faculty, with the exception of instructors (a group totaling only 17 faculty members at Michigan). At the U-M, 66.4 percent of all lecturers have full-time appointments, whereas 80.8 percent of full professors, 85.2 percent of associate professors, and 86.5 percent of assistant professors hold full-time appointments. According to the 1992 NCES faculty survey, at public research universities 50.0 percent of the lecturers, 96.6 percent of full professors, 92.2 percent of associate professors and 92.1 percent of assistant professors had full-time appointments. Thus, unless the situation elsewhere has changed significantly in the two years between the NCES national survey and the AAUP study at Michigan, considerably more lecturers, and relatively fewer assistant, associate, and full professors, have full-time employment at Michigan than at other public, research institutions of higher education. In addition, the proportion of lecturers with full-time appointments varies greatly among the various units at the U-M. For example, nearly all of the lecturers on the Flint (93.5 percent) and Dearborn (92.9 percent) campuses have full-time appointments, and 74.0 percent of the lecturers in the Medical School have full-time appointments. In contrast, 60.7 percent of the lecturers in LS&A and 43.8 percent in the School of Nursing have full-time appointments. All of these are units with a high proportion of lecturers in their teaching faculties.


Annual salaries
The mean annual salary rate at Michigan for male lecturers during the 1994­95 academic year was $42,619 and the mean rate for female lecturers was $34,392. According to the 1995 March/April Academe article on faculty salaries, the mean income at institutions comparable to Michigan for male lecturers during the 1994­95 academic year was $36,380 and the mean income for female lecturers was $32,100. These data do not take into account factors such as geographic location. The Michigan AAUP study found that there was considerable variation among the various units in the annual salary rates for teaching faculty at the various ranks. Lecturers in the Medical School had the highest annual salary rates. Their salary rates were nearly as high as those of full professors on the Flint and Dearborn campuses. In contrast, the lowest annual salary rates were earned by men and women lecturers in LS&A, and by women lecturers on the Dearborn campus. With the exception of the School of Nursing, where there were very few male members of the teaching faculty, women at all ranks earned considerably less than their male counterparts.


Gender and ethnicity
Inequality in the representation of women and ethnic minorities within the U of M teaching faculty Inequality in the representation of women and members of some ethnic minority groups within Michigan's teaching faculty has been a matter of concern to many, and has led to initiatives such as the Michigan Mandate (1988) and the Michigan Agenda for Women (1994). Within the ranks of lecturers, the gender inequity is reversed. During the 1994 & 1995 academic year, of the men in the teaching faculty, 46.6 percent were full professors, 19.9 percent were associate professors, 23.1 percent were assistant professors, 0.4 percent were instructors, and 9.9 percent were lecturers. In contrast, of the women in the teaching faculty, 15.9 percent were full professors, 18.5 percent were associate professors, 29.8 percent were assistant professors, none were instructors, and 35.7 percent were lecturers (a proportion 3.6-fold greater than for men). The highest proportion of women as lecturers in the teaching faculty was found in LS&A, where 53.5 percent of all women in the teaching faculty were lecturers. Values that can be computed from AAUP data presented in the March /April Academe article on full-time faculty at comprehensive, category I institutions, like Michigan, demonstrate interesting differences from the Michigan data. According to that article, during the 1994­95 academic year, of the men in teaching faculties of such institutions, 49.3 percent were full professors, 28.3 percent were associate professors, 18.3 per cent were assistant professors, 1.9 percent were instructors, 1.9 percent were lecturers, and 0.4 percent held other appointments. Of the women on the teaching faculties of such institutions, 19.2 percent were full professors, 29.5 percent were associate professors, 36.0 percent were assistant professors, 8.0 percent were instructors, 6.1 percent were lecturers (a proportion 3.2-fold greater than for men), and 1.1 percent held other appointments. Thus, at Michigan the proportion of men who were lecturers was 5.2-fold greater and the proportion of women who were lecturers was 5.8-fold greater than at comparable institutions elsewhere in the United States during the 1994­95 academic year.

In its 1995 Annual Report, the Committee for a Multicultural University concluded that the proportions of members of those ethnic groups with appointments as lecturers were quite similar to the proportions of members of those groups with appointments as tenure-track teaching faculty, with the exception of Hispanics. The proportion of Hispanics within the population of lecturers was much greater than within the population of tenure-track faculty members.


Qualifications of members of the teaching faculty
There are few measures by which the qualifications of individuals within the various ranks of the teaching faculty can be compared. One standard indicator used to assess professional achievement, however, is the highest degree held by a faculty member. According to the Michigan AAUP study, doctoral degrees predominated within the ranks of the tenure -track teaching faculty, with 91.6 percent of the assistant professors, 94.3 percent of the associate professors, and 94.0 per cent of the full professors holding doctoral degrees. In contrast, fewer than half of the lecturers had doctoral degrees (46.4 percent), while a substantial proportion had only masters degrees (42.2 percent) or bachelors degrees (7.9 percent) (3.5 percent had no degree indicated).


Years spent at the University
Many assume that an appointment at the rank of lecturer is a temporary appointment during which the appointee completes degree requirements, establishes him- or herself within the community of scholars, and prepares to move up the academic ladder through tenure-track ranks. The Michigan AAUP study found that overall, lecturers had spent more time at the University of Michigan than assistant professors, but less time than those in the other tenure-track ranks. Lecturers on the Flint and Dearborn campuses had spent nearly as many years at the University as had associate professors. In LS&A, lecturers had spent nearly twice as many years at the University as assistant professors. It was only in the Medical School that lecturers had spent fewer years at the University than assistant professors, as might be expected for an en try-level appointment. Thus, a substantial proportion of the lecturers at the U-M spend time within this non-tenure-track rank of the teaching faculty equivalent to that spent by other faculty members in their tenure-track ranks. Indeed, one might conclude that appointment at the rank of lecturer is becoming an appointment of long duration and that eventually lecturers will replace many who currently hold tenure-track appointments.

The rapid growth in the proportions of lecturers in the teaching faculty of the University of Michigan raises a number of serious concerns. Some of these concerns relate to the impact that this change in the nature of the professoriate might have upon the quality of teaching and scholarship within the University. Other concerns are related to job security, salaries, benefits, faculty governance, and the rights and responsibilities of lecturers within the community of scholars, including long-term commitment to a field and/or to the institution. These are all issues that faculty members and administrators at Michigan, as well as the Regents and the public, citizens who send their children to be educated at Michigan, need to struggle with as the process of reshaping the professoriate continues to evolve. We need to identify measures by which we can determine the proportion of lecturers in the teaching faculty and the circumstances under which lecturers in the teaching faculty bring maximal benefit to the institution, to the individuals involved and to the fields of scholarship within our academic community.

Submitted by: Bruce Oakley, Professor of Biology