Tenure-tastic

(Photo: Kristen Thompson)

(Photo: Kristen Thompson)

The mission to add tenure positions at King’s has yielded successful results. Five new tenure-track hires will be added to the school’s teaching roster over the next three years.

“I’m very excited about it,” said King’s president William Lahey. “I think it’s a wonderful thing for our colleagues, for our students and it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

According to King’s vice-president Peter O’Brien, a motion was unanimously passed at the King’s board of governors meeting on March 23, 2017, to convert five current sessional positions to tenure-track ones. The first three hires will be made for July 2018, followed by one position in July 2019 and another in July 2020. They will be the first tenure-track hires at King’s since 2010.

“There were five cases in particular where long-term sessional teachers were left in this limbo-land of putting in yeoman’s service for the college, doing lots of teaching, contributing to their own research portfolios and also doing some important curricular program development at the college,” said O’Brien adding that the new tenure-track positions are in part recognition of the long-term service of those professors.

Lahey believes that these hires will help create more faculty stability at King’s with the hope that it will be mutually advantageous for both faculty and students.

“Students will continue to benefit from the great teaching that the occupants of these positions provide … that’s key to recruiting and retaining the students that we need in order to keep the college not only academically healthy but financially healthy in the future,” he said. “We have to invest in our academic program like we believe in it, if we want other people to believe in it.”

O’Brien is quick to note that his predecessor, former vice-president Kim Kierans, “did the legwork” to add new tenure positions.

The hiring process

The tenure-track hires will be made by the individual programs that hold the current sessional positions. According to Lahey the tenure-track positions will be spread across Contemporary Studies, the Foundation Year Programme and the School of Journalism.  

Later this fall, each program will decide whether they will hire from within by promoting a current sessional employee or by opening the position up for a national search. The next step will be a call for applications this fall, followed by interviews and presentations made in the early new year. There will be a deliberation period before the appointment announcements are made sometime in the spring. The appointments will take effect on July 1.

Financial considerations

The decision to create new tenure positions was not taken lightly given the school’s current financial situation. According to Lahey, King’s ran a $1.6 million deficit last year and is currently $8 million in debt, with the projections for this year indicating a slightly lower but similar deficit the debt will grow to around $9.5 million.

“In the light of the financial situation that the college is in, you can expect that some people will be of the view that it’s not the right time to be committing to five new tenure-track positions,” said Lahey.

“The outcome was never to be taken for granted and quite frankly I had to take my time to make sure that it was absolutely the right thing to do, not just for the individual but for the college.”

O’Brien stresses that these positions are conversions of sessional positions already in the operating budget, not additional positions.

Looking forward

The five positions currently on their way are not the end of the push for faculty stability in the form of tenure-track positions at King’s. The administration will attempt to create more tenure-track hires moving forward as long as it is financially viable to do so.

The board of governors has approved an enhanced retirement program for faculty members who are qualified to retire. The timing of any additional tenure-track hires will be tied to how many eligible professors decide to retire, as well as the school’s enrolment numbers over the next several years.

“It is one of my objectives and it’s one of the objectives of the board of governors to continue to advance faculty renewal,” said Lahey. “I think every university needs to be hiring to make sure there is new blood coming into the system, new perspectives and people who are educated in the most current research methods and schools of thought.”