TAMU AAUP Guide for New Faculty
August 2002




The Texas A&M Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) welcomes you to Texas A&M University. We, your new colleagues here, have written this pamphlet to share some of the strategies for success we have found useful.

Contents







WHO ARE FACULTY?



1) Any person who has the term "Professor" in her/his title, whether or not tenure-track. The responsibilities of these persons are usually in the three areas of independent research, teaching, and service.

2) Any person who has the term "Lecturer" in his/her title. Lecturers are nontenured; their responsibilities are primarily teaching with a small service component.

3) Any person who has the title "librarian" or "instructor."

Faculty are qualified to vote in faculty elections (depending sometimes on their rank) and to apply for internal research funding.

Research scientists are not faculty. Although they may have many of the same responsibilities as faculty, they are neither eligible for tenure nor usually eligible to apply for internal research funding.

Regardless of your title, you are welcome and invited to join the AAUP.


WHAT IS SUCCESS?



We like to define success in terms of your ability to set up win-win interactions (such as social interactions and professional associations). Obviously, circumstances may not always allow a win-win result. Still the effort is worthwhile, if only because you help create and enjoy a more congenial academic community.

Texas A&M University recently released its Vision 2020 plan, which calls for the university to join the ranks of the top ten public universities by 2020. This goal cannot be attained without raising standards of all kinds. We hope the state legislature will accept the ideas embodied in Vision 2020. If it does, we can expect to see rising salaries and increased funding for projects that will raise the quality and standing of the university.

We expect the standards of work expected of faculty will rise noticeably during the next five or six years. Thus it is important to recognize that standards for your tenure may be higher than those for your predecessors. In any case, here you have the opportunity to demonstrate your best.

Your career development is your own responsibility. Thus you should carefully focus the arenas in which you invest your efforts, and make certain these efforts increase your standing in your field.


GETTING ALONG (ESTABLISHING WIN-WIN RELATIONSHIPS)



It should be unnecessary to discuss strategies for working with colleagues, since we are all highly educated and experienced in the academic world. But disputes between faculty and administration or among faculty often reveal a remarkable lack of concern, on all sides, for mending fences. We cannot do much about preventing the errors we have seen administrators and colleagues make, but a few suggestions may prevent such problems from affecting you.

First, it is important to realize that all faculty, tenured and untenured, are under tremendous pressure (often self-imposed) to produce quality work. Moreover, our creative work is our best claim to immortality. Many of us harbor the quiet dream that we will be known hundreds or thousands of years from now for the wonderful work we did, just as Darwin, Goethe, Newton, Michelangelo, Dante, and Archimedes are. Even at our most realistic, we all want to bask in the glow of professional appreciation. This makes us very jealous of our work and the time it takes to do it. Some suggestions follow from these observations:

1. Give credit generously. It won't hurt your reputation.

2. Be friendly, join in hallway chats and trips out to lunch.

3. Be careful about dropping in and visiting in your neighbor's office. Even if your neighbor accepts your visits, he or she may not always have time to chat.

4. Stay focused. The faculty who have the best reputations for accomplishing things have chosen a limited number of goals of value to themselves, their colleagues, departments, and the university, and worked on them with vigor. Successful probationary faculty usually do not aim for goals outside their research and teaching.

5. We have tenure to guarantee the academic freedom to inquire and teach without fear of retaliation. Tenure is important because to teach and research well means making people think. This often means challenging popular assumptions and commercial interests. If you are considering entering into controversial areas relating to your field of study, make sure your research can back up your statements and actions. If you enter into controversial areas outside your field of study (an example would be arguing for the legalization of marijuana when your area is English literature), you must be careful to explicitly say you are speaking for yourself alone and not for the University. Nor should such speech occur in the classroom if unrelated to the course content.

6. Stay cool. Anger usually results in errors. Think until you are no longer working with your emotions before you act or speak.


SUGGESTIONS FOR ASSISTANT PROFESSORS



Managing your time effectively may prove one of the greatest challenges. Research, teaching, and service will easily consume 150% of your available time if you are not careful. Most departments try to limit the service component of non-tenured faculty. Do not resist -- you will have many opportunities to serve once tenured.

Of prime importance during your pre-tenure years are research and teaching. First-rate research with ensuing publication in highly respected and refereed journals or a book is expected and essential. As mentioned earlier, standards can be expected to rise during the next few years, so even the standards which were successfully met by recently promoted and tenured faculty should not be your definition of excellence. Aim higher.

The actions most useful to advance your research include:

1. Build a research program. Research is not made up of the solutions of a succession of unrelated or somewhat related problems. Rather, it is motivated by overall questions, and the particular problems being studied should be well guided by the overall questions.

2. Establish an independent research program. When you go up for tenure, the question of your independence from colleagues will arise if too much of your work is collaborative. Collaboration does have many advantages. Working with other faculty can teach you a lot, bring in early grant money unavailable otherwise, and can add an interdisciplinary element to your work. But too much collaboration may raise a red flag: Can the candidate perform well without the help of senior people? Before embarking on collaborative work, make sure a division of responsibility is delineated and your department will judge your efforts worthy of tenure.

3. To accomplish your research program, apply for grants, if grant funding is expected in your field. Start writing grant proposals if you have not already started. If you are immediately funded, do not rest on your laurels. You should aim to be funded during the entire probationary period and when you go up for tenure. Previously funded professors who were not funded at the time of tenure decision have been denied tenure for that stated reason.

4. Seek out faculty who have been successful at getting grants and ask for their advice. Ask for a copy of a successful grant application to the agency to which you are applying.

5. Moderate the drive for funding with good sense. A granting agency official once said that "persons who are after the money rather than the research question are easily recognized and are less likely to obtain funding." Funding is an means to an end, not an end in itself.

6. Publish. Publication can be problematical, as some kinds of research are inherently slower than others. However, some of your colleagues may not be aware of this aspect of your research, so it's wise to focus your research upon publishability during your next several years. Find out from recently promoted colleagues how many papers they had when they were promoted, and plan to produce more than that. While it is certainly true that quality counts much more than quantity, given equal quality, more is better. Most papers in a given journal are judged to be at about the same level of quality, and from then on, quantity counts.

7. Publish in leading journals. Publication in lower-level journals is not nearly as good as publication in leading journals, even though publication in a lower-level journal may be faster and easier.

8. Publish in lower-level journals. If you have a result that is not significant enough for a leading journal, don't just set it aside. A publication in a lower-level journal, while not as good, still benefits you and the field.

9. Network. Develop a list of researchers around the world who are interested in your work, and send them preprints of your papers. Your department will support you in this effort because the university benefits from publicizing your research.

10. Attend professional meetings in your field. This is one way to create a network of interested colleagues worldwide as well to stay abreast of others' research.

11. Give talks. Often giving a talk is a requirement of departmental funding for attending a meeting. But even if it is not, it's a good way of spreading the word of your work and getting feedback prior to submitting a paper for publication. Even the best work, if unknown, has no impact.

12. Give more talks. Many universities will pay something toward your travel expenses to give a colloquium. These talks are good for expanding your reputation, especially among people in your area but not your specific field.

13. Self-promote within the university. Give colloquia and invite colleagues to sit in the advanced courses you offer. Get mentioned in the various newsletters that TAMU publishes or in the local newspaper, and try to add a community service component to your research.

You are the world's leading expert on your results; now your job is to become recognized as a leading expert in your field. Focus your efforts on your field; do not try to compete with others in their field. Self-promote pleasantly.

Teaching is your other priority. The assumption is that you will teach well. The evolving state of information technology means more opportunities and challenges for us to teach effectively. Suggestions for teaching include:

1. Ask to sit in on colleagues' classes to see how they teach.

2. Invite your colleagues to sit in on your classes and ask for suggestions on how you could improve your teaching.

3. Obtain feedback from students about your courses.

4. Take advantage of university resources, including the Center for Teaching Excellence, to improve your teaching and to enable students to take advantage of support services.


SUGGESTIONS FOR LECTURERS



You are hired to teach and perform some service. Get a very clear idea from your department head of the expectations set by the department. Confirm this in a pleasant memo and file the memo. As a faculty member, you are eligible to run for Faculty Senate, and you are eligible to serve on Departmental, College, and University committees. Such service will usually help satisfy the service expectation of your job.

It is possible to be promoted from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer with a concomitant increase in salary.

The Faculty Senate has a Subcommittee on the Status of Lecturers to handle the concerns of lecturers and has worked successfully in the past to alleviate problems. For example, the raise on promotion to Senior Lecturer arose in this subcommittee. Non-senators may serve on this committee. You are encouraged to volunteer for this service if your department head concurs; call the Senate office (845-9528).


SUGGESTIONS FOR RESEARCH SCIENTISTS



All research scientists (including assistant and associate research scientists) should:

1. Get your duties and evaluation criteria in writing.

2. Document the fact that you have completely fulfilled your duties and satisfied the criteria.

3. Before writing grant applications, check to see if you are eligible to be the principal investigator. Particularly for assistant and associate research scientists, eligibility is not automatic.

4. Keep in mind that you are not faculty. Despite the fact that you may have some duties and responsibilities of faculty, you are nevertheless not faculty. You may not vote for the Faculty Senate and are not eligible for internal sources of research funding, even if independent research is your primary responsibility.


SUGGESTIONS FOR ALL



These suggestions may seem obvious, but a little repetition is not necessarily bad.

DO:



1. Act ethically. You hold a position of trust, honor, and responsibility. The university has a commitment to you, but you also have a commitment to the profession, the university, and the taxpayers of Texas.

2. Give credit to all who added to the intellectual effort of a paper, book, or other work, regardless of their rank.

3. Add junior colleagues to your grant applications. The extra brain-power may help your research, and you will help your colleagues.

4. Seek feedback and document it.

DON'TS:



1. Don't cleverly or unintentionally intertwine your personal business(es) and your job. Our auditors are very good at untangling the tangles you make, and when they finish your troubles have just begun.

2. Don't abuse your colleagues' trust. If you work with a colleague, give credit. It costs almost nothing, you will feel better about it, and colleagues who believe you failed to credit their work often have long memories.

3. Don't coerce post docs, graduate students, staff, etc., into doing work for you that is illegal, unethical, or just outside of what they are supposed to do.


PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS (more win-win relationships)



We are confident you will find your work here satisfying and productive. But there are times when you will see ways to improve the university which would require more time (or perhaps even more ability) to effect than you presently have. Sometimes taking such ideas up the "chain of command" (Department Head, Dean, Dean of Faculties, Provost, President) is the best way to get these ideas implemented. Another avenue is through the Faculty Senate.

Conflicts do sometimes arise, and most of us wish the State Legislature, the Regents, and/or our administrators would treat us better (more pay, fewer obstacles to our work, etc.). To help us, there are the Faculty Senate and several organizations for faculty. We recommend running for the Senate after you have tenure or are a fully established non-tenure-track person and have more time to devote to service. We recommend joining a faculty association, but do not become very involved before you have tenure.


1. FACULTY SENATE



The Faculty Senate is an elected body of faculty members charged with advising the president. As such, the Senate's powers are limited, but they include considerable access to administrators and a strong voice because it represents the faculty as a whole. The Senate consists of approximately 90 senators, each elected to a three-year term by the faculty of their colleges.

We advise you to get to know your senators and discuss issues of concern to you or to the faculty as a whole. As a faculty member, you are eligible to serve as a senator. Because membership in the Senate will be of very little value in gaining tenure (unless you and your department think that you need more involvement in a service component), we strongly advise probationary faculty to avoid running for the Senate. Experienced lecturers and tenured faculty are encouraged to serve on the Senate; such service gives you a voice on the overall direction of the university.

CONTACT INFORMATION: 845-9528, http://www.tamu.edu/faculty_senate or see any of the senators in your college.


2. AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS (AAUP)



The AAUP's purpose is "to facilitate a more effective cooperation among teachers and research scholars in universities and colleges ... for the promotion of the interests of higher education and research, and in general to increase the usefulness and advance the standards, ideals, and welfare of the profession," according to its constitution. Since 1915, the AAUP has provided faculty and administrators with guidelines on how to function ethically and effectively in areas ranging from academic freedom and tenure to professional ethics and student rights and freedoms.

The AAUP is often called upon by faculty who have landed in some sort of trouble. It is important to realize that the national AAUP cannot fight for individuals, but rather fights for principles and procedures implementing those principles. The local chapter supports the national AAUP in its efforts. In addition, we do support individuals, but our time is severely limited. We are all volunteers, and the way to get more action from the local chapter is to volunteer your own time and get others to volunteer.

When called upon by an individual, the local chapter is always willing to monitor the processes set up to handle the individual case, to make sure that procedures in place are followed fairly. When they are not, we will protest; we will ask the Faculty Senate and other organizations to protest; and we will notify the national AAUP office. In such cases, the national office may write to the university administration, inquiring about the case. Such inquiries can be helpful.

In cases where we notice weak or missing procedures, we try to get appropriate changes made. We have successfully proposed resolutions to the Faculty Senate, and many of our members are or have been Faculty Senators. Thus changes can occur as a result of AAUP actions.

By state law, the AAUP cannot act as a union. We cannot negotiate for faculty, nor can we call a strike. This greatly limits our power. Nevertheless, we have the not inconsiderable powers of access to administrators, investigation and publicity, as well as lobbying.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Chapter President Arthur Hobbs (845-3250, hobbs@math.tamu.edu, http://www.math.tamu.edu/arthur~hobbs , or http://aaup.tamu.edu/ )


3. TEXAS FACULTY ASSOCIATION (TFA)



TFA is a part of the Texas State Teachers Association, itself part of the National Education Association. Consequently, TFA is considerably more expensive to join than AAUP, but offers a range of benefits, including legal help and professional insurance, which can have great value in some circumstances. TFA is the most effective lobbying group for Texas faculty.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Charles Zucker, Executive Director (800-364-8452, http://63.241.175.202/affiliates/tfa ) or Garret Ihler (845-8686, gmihler@tamu.edu)


4. TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGE TEACHERS (TACT)



TACT, as its name indicates, is also focused on Texas concerns and lobbies the Legislature. Its concerns include salaries, retirement options and other statewide concerns to higher education. TACT has the lowest dues of the three associations.

TACT holds statewide meetings twice each year jointly with AAUP. Attending these meetings provides you with a sense of higher education throughout the state (yes, there is academic life outside Bryan-College Station) and a chance to meet other involved faculty.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Charles Schultz (862-1555, c-schultz@tamu.edu)


5. WOMEN'S FACULTY NETWORK



The Women's Faculty Network encourages and promotes the professional development of women faculty through both formal programs and informal networking opportunities. WFN sponsors professional development opportunities for faculty, addressing such issues as expanding research opportunities, excellence in teaching, transition to administration, and retention of women faculty.

The Steering Committee consists of representatives from each TAMU college who are elected for three-year terms. There are also three at-large positions and three ex-officio positions: Dean of Faculties, Director of Women's Studies, and Chair of the Faculty Senate sub-committee on the status of women.

All members of the A&M community are invited to participate in WFN-sponsored activities.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Prof. Nancy Ing (862-2790, ning@cvm.tamu.edu, http://http.tamu.edu/~wfn )


GRIEVANCES



Faculty are usually treated very well here. As in any large organization, however, problems do arise, and so grievance procedures and committees exist. Outside your department and college are the Dean of Faculties and, far less called upon, CAFRT.

As a precaution against future disputes, keep all written and other evidence of events and activities which might someday be contested. This includes all letters between administrators and yourself as well as accurate records of your research and teaching activities.


THE DEAN OF FACULTIES



According to "Faculty Policies and Information," issued by the Office of the Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost, "The Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost deals with any and all issues of importance to the faculty of the university. ... "The Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost is available to all faculty for confidential consultation on any matter of importance to the faculty member. Follow up actions to consultation are taken only with express agreement on the part of the faculty member. The faculty ombudsperson role of the Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost carries with it the authority and access to information to facilitate resolution to situations of concern to faculty. The Office of the Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost is in a location (6th floor Rudder Tower) separate from other administrative offices, thus offering a further dimension of privacy and confidentiality."

CONTACT INFORMATION: Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost Janis Stout (845-4274, j-stout@tamu.edu, http://www.tamu.edu/dean_of_faculty )


CAFRT



CAFRT, the Committee on Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure, hears appeals of disputed cases of denial of tenure or dismissal for cause. Its recommendations are only advisory for the president, and its recommendations have been overruled in the past. However, its recommendations have also been accepted and can be strong evidence in a court of law.

The TAMU System Policy at http://sago.tamu.edu/policy/12-01.htm and the TAMU Rules at http://rules.tamu.edu/urules/100/120199m2.htm relating to tenure should be read carefully. They are the governing documents when disputes arise in tenure cases.

CONTACT INFORMATION: The Faculty Senate appoints the CAFRT Chair, so contact the Senate (845-9528, senate@tamu.edu).


OTHER GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES



Some types of grievances have special rules, notably:
Research integrity cases. ( http://rules.tamu.edu/urules/100/159903m1.htm )
Sexual harassment cases. ( http://rules.tamu.edu/urules/300/340199m1.htm )
Furthermore, "Faculty Policies and Information" states "Faculty members believing that they have cause for grievance concerning a matter not covered by the procedures described in the University's Statement on Academic Freedom, Responsibility, Tenure and Promotion, University Policy on Sexual Harassment, or in other regulations should discuss the matter in a personal conference with their department head. If the matter cannot be resolved by mutual consent at this point, the issue should be discussed in a personal conference with the dean.

"If no resolution can be reached at the foregoing levels, faculty members may take their grievance before a college-wide committee, either standing or ad hoc, created for the purpose of reviewing such grievances. Some colleges may choose to have the college wide committee enter the process before the deans become involved.

"If a resolution cannot be reached at the college level, the faculty member may petition the University Grievance Committee (UGC) for redress. The UGC will not hear grievances that have not been heard by a college grievance committee. The faculty member shall submit the grievance to the UGC through the Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost."

See pages 52 through 54 of "Faculty Policies and Information" for more details.


PROFESSIONAL PREPAREDNESS IS FOR EVERYONE



Whether going up for tenure and promotion, or, far more rarely, finding yourself in serious trouble, keeping good records is a must. The time to start is now; when you find yourself needing good records, it is too late to start. As a rule, keep good records of your actions, accomplishments, and expectations by others.

Make sure you obtain written notification of what is expected for tenure and successful annual reviews in your department or college. You should receive an written annual review. Discuss the review with your department head to ensure there are no misunderstandings by anyone. A friendly memo afterwards to confirm your impressions is a good idea.


1. COMPUTER RECORDS



It is wise to maintain (preferably in your home) hard copies of all significant e-mails. Your e-mail and the contents of your professional computer are the property of your employer who can access them with or without your knowledge. Personal computing is best done at home.


2. PROFESSIONAL DIARY



You may want to keep a professional diary, tracking your daily activities, such as your research, service and teaching, as well as phone calls and appointments, their outcomes, and the names of the participants. Date each entry. You could keep this information on a computer and print it out on a weekly basis, but a bound diary is a legally more convincing document. If nothing else, you may learn how your time is actually spent.


3. PERSONNEL FILES



Your employer maintains one or more personnel files which you are entitled to see upon request. You may want to ask to look at them on an annual basis, simply to inform yourself of what is in the file. You may copy these items at your expense.

It is wise to maintain your own copy of your personnel file, because it is in your best interest to have a complete file, and employers' files are normally not complete. In your personnel file at home you should keep copies of everything that is in your personnel file(s) at work, as well as other items of importance. This will include all letters of instruction or praise or results of meetings. If you wish to document the results of a meeting (thus ensuring that there are no misunderstandings), you may send a friendly memo containing your perception of its results, and keep a copy.


4. TEACHING FILE AND TENURE FILE



As you will discover when you write your annual report and go up for your third-year and tenure reviews, documenting your accomplishments is important. A record kept today may save much time and frustration a few years later.

One approach is to build files that contain the written requirements of your department, college and the University for (1) teaching and (2) promotion and tenure. Each file should also contain a thorough documentation that you have fulfilled and exceeded these requirements. For the teaching file, go to the Center for Teaching Excellence and learn the preferred method for creating a teaching portfolio. Save all your teaching evaluations, including the computer-processed forms filled out by students every semester, as well as the summation of those forms. For the tenure file, save and respond positively to your annual evaluations. If you are not given an annual evaluation, ask for feedback and document your response to it.

These files have two significant values. First, you will be aware of deficiencies either in your performance or in your perceived performance, allowing you to take steps to improve. Second, you will be prepared at your time of tenure or promotion to present yourself at your best.


PLEASANTNESS



Winston Churchill, speaking of his widely criticized flowery note informing the Japanese Ambassador that Great Britain and Japan were at war, said, "After all, when you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite." From time to time, you may find yourself embroiled in disagreements with administrators and colleagues, and passions will flare. You can be witty and cutting and make your points; or you can be polite and still make your points. Is it better to win with all parties still friends, or win with bitterness as a legacy?

The answer is obvious, but in a surprising number of cases, professors have made enemies unnecessarily. You don't have to join them. When you are angry and write a note, let it sit overnight before sending it. The next morning, you may see ways of being polite and less cutting and still make your points. Work at keeping collegiality the tone in your department, college and university. Recognize when others are becoming angry, and suggest breaks for chatting and cooling off. In short, be a source of pleasantness, rather than a source of misery.


ONE MORE TIME



Again, we welcome you to Texas A&M University. Parts of this brochure may seem unduly pessimistic or bureaucratic. We have focused on areas where problems have occurred in the past in order to avoid such problems in the future. But we have found this university to be a stimulating and rewarding place to work, and we hope you will have the same experience.

Good luck in all you do.

To comment on this guide, please send e-mail to Arthur M. Hobbs, President, TAMU AAUP Chapter, hobbs@math.tamu.edu