Why does the university hire fixed-term teaching faculty or contingent faculty members?
ASU offers thousands of sections of courses each semester. Most courses are taught by tenured and tenure-eligible faculty members. However, even with all the faculty members available, ASU often needs to hire additional, fixed-term faculty to cover all the courses. The need for short-term contingent faculty appointees also can arise from unplanned professional or personal circumstances that temporarily cause a person who normally would teach to be unavailable for a semester, leaving some assignments uncovered. Because of the length of time required for the recruitment of a tenured or tenure-eligible faculty line, short-term contingent faculty also are used to cover course assignments when current faculty retire or resign. Finally, enrollment fluctuations also affect the hiring needs from semester to semester.
To handle course sections in those cases where a section remains unassigned, ASU hires contingent faculty members to cover them. These contracts are for a fixed term — usually an academic year or less — and specifically target the courses uncovered during that term.
Note: There should never be an expectation of employment beyond the term of a fixed-term contract. Because the number of uncovered sections varies from semester to semester, the makeup of this contingent faculty group changes every semester. Some units may need many contingent faculty members one semester and none the next. Thus, some contingent faculty members may complete a fixed-term contract and then be rehired on another fixed-term contract based on institutional needs and individual performance.
What changes have been made recently for job titles for contingent faculty members?
The Affordable Care Act requires that those whose employment would make them eligible for health care under the provisions of that law must be offered that benefit.
To address that requirement, ASU has moved to consistently enforce throughout the institution the benefits-eligibility expectations for two of the contingent faculty categories: instructor and faculty associate.
There are other categories of contingent faculty members, but these are the two types most commonly used to teach uncovered course sections. The benefits-eligibility status for these two job titles existed in the past, but some academic units did not adhere tightly to them. Under ACA, ASU can no longer permit that flexibility.
A contingent faculty member hired as benefits-eligible is given the instructor job title for the fixed term of their employment — and no other use of that title is allowed. These individuals typically work more than 0.50 FTE or already receive benefits through another job at ASU. Similarly, the title faculty associate is given to a contingent faculty member who is non-benefits eligible based on that person’s assignment — usually, 0.40 FTE or less — for the fixed term of that person’s employment and no other use of that title is allowed.
Won’t these changes cause individual contingent faculty members to lose course assignments?
No. As explained above, there is no expectation of continued employment for contingent faculty members. A contingent faculty member does not have a guarantee from year to year of a particular course assignment or a particular number of sections. Further, enrollment fluctuations also can eliminate the need for a section even within the current term of employment. Each semester still represents a new hiring season for contingent faculty members. The stricter assignment of these two job titles noted above will allow the university to better track its ACA compliance.
What changes have been made to assignments for contract teaching faculty members?
The hiring of contingent faculty members will still be based on the institutional need at that particular time.
To simplify course planning and section assignments while ensuring ACA compliance, many academic units and colleges are moving to consolidate uncovered sections during the upcoming year so as to increase the number of those hired in the instructor category while decreasing the number of contingent faculty hired as faculty associates. To date, more than 150 such full-time or nearly full-time instructor positions have been created for fall 2013. While this consolidation promotes ACA compliance and simplifies planning, there also are salutary effects — e.g., improved student performance and retention and communication to the institution when contingent faculty members have greater FTE assignments. Those in the instructor category also benefit from being benefits-eligible.
When is a part-time teaching position eligible for benefits?
Eligibility may arise through either the Affordable Care Act provisions or guidelines from the Arizona Department of Administration. In brief, a person is eligible for benefits while employed at ASU if he or she meets the following criteria:
- The person will work for ASU at 0.50 or greater FTE averaged over the academic year.
- The person will work for ASU at 0.50 or greater FTE averaged over any continuous 90 calendar day period, including the time immediately before or after the period to the person is employed part-time.
- The person who has worked or will work for ASU 90 calendar days or longer then begins working 0.50 or greater FTE.
To ensure compliance with these sets of expectations, the guidelines below explain how to handle these appointments. For appointments of one semester or longer, these guidelines are conservative. Appointments for less than a semester will require greater scrutiny, documentation and approval by the Provost’s office.
What types of part-time teaching positions exist?
ASU hires a varying number of fixed-term instructional personnel called faculty associates, academic associates and instructors. These roles temporarily fill gaps in the normal pool of faculty so that a unit can offer needed specialized knowledge, provide coverage due to faculty leaves, etc. The lengths of the term for these fixed-term temporary appointments will vary based on the needs of the institution. Beyond the fixed term of the contract, there is no explicit or implicit expectation of continued employment, including the number of courses to be assigned.
Faculty associate or academic associate job titles are only to be used for part-time, non-benefits eligible positions. Faculty associates should not be hired routinely for multiple semesters in a given year. Beyond the fixed term of the contract, there can be no explicit or implicit expectation of continued employment for faculty associate positions, including the number of courses to be assigned.
The Instructor job title is used for part-time and full-time benefits-eligible, fixed-term temporary instructional personnel positions.
Most appointments will be for one semester or for an academic year. Appointments of less than one semester such as Session A or Session B require prior review and approval by the Provost’s Office. These appointments of less than one semester will require extra documentation by the appointing unit, which may delay their implementation. One focus of the Provost’s review will be to determine whether benefits must be provided.
When should I use the title faculty associate and when should I use the title instructor?
The use of either title depends on whether the person is receiving benefits because of the above considerations or because they hold another job at ASU that makes them benefits-eligible. Our intention is to have the title reflect whether the person is eligible for benefits as an instructor or non-faculty associate. For that reason, the title might not strictly correlate with FTE for the temporary, fixed-term teaching position.
- If the person who will take the temporary, fixed-term teaching position will be benefits-eligible, including if the person is benefits-eligible due to another appointment at ASU, the job title for the temporary, fixed-term teaching position should be instructor, regardless of FTE.
- If the person who will take the temporary, fixed-term teaching position job does not qualify for benefits — either from the temporary, fixed-term teaching position or from another benefits-eligible position at the institution — the temporary, fixed-term job should carry the title faculty associate.
What FTE is appropriate for a part-time teaching position?
The standard work-week assignment for one three-credit-hour course is no more than 0.20 FTE when that course is offered over an entire semester — for example, session C — and no more than 0.40 FTE for a course offered in a 7.5-week session — for example, session A or B. FTE assignments for other course credit-hour variations will be calculated on this same basis, pro-rated for the number of credit hours. Exceptions to this standard will require the department to submit a justification and request for approval of an alternative FTE assignment through the respective dean to the Provost; the Provost’s Office is responsible for final approval of any variation from the standard.
For Faculty Associate positions of one semester or more in duration, an assignment of a three-credit-hour course each in A and C or B and C is allowable, as the average over the semester is 0.40 FTE. This assignment should be entered into HRIS as follows:
- Session A or B plus Session C jobs must be reflected in two EMPL/JOB records with an average of 0.40 FTE for the semester. The job record of both sessions — either Session A or B and Session C — must be 0.20 FTE each in HRIS to average 0.40 FTE for the semester. Session A or B paid over five pay periods and Session C paid over 10 pay periods. Remember: One three-credit-hour course for the semester in Session A or B is 0.40 FTE, and one three-credit-hour for the semester in Session C is 0.20 FTE.
- For an assignment of less than a semester’s duration, assignment of two three-credit-hour courses in an A or B session to a part-time faculty member may be allowed based on additional documentation, and review and approval of the details of the appointment by the Provost’s Office as noted above. The results of that review will determine whether or not the appointment will require benefits to be offered.
- In the summer, a three-credit-hour course equates to a 0.50 FTE in a six-week summer session and to 0.38 FTE in an eight-week summer session. A Faculty Associate may be assigned to teach up to one three-credit-hour course in each six-week session or in an eight-week session, provided the person did not work more than 90 consecutive calendar days encompassing the session(s) when the person is employed, including time prior to or after the session in which the person is to be employed. Also, it does not average more than 0.50 FTE. if the person has worked or will work at ASU for more than 90 consecutive calendar days and will be 0.50 FTE or more, that person should have the Instructor title and be provided benefits.
These FTE equivalencies apply regardless of the mode of instruction — e.g., face-to-face, online, hybrid.
FTE assignments must be adjusted immediately when changes in teaching assignments affect the number of credit hours taught.
To minimize the number of fuzzy situations, a total FTE assignment greater than 0.40 and less than 0.50 for a semester during the academic year is not permitted. Responsibilities for the period of employment should be adjusted to move the position either below 0.40 FTE or above 0.50 FTE. Depending on the considerations above, this change may alter the benefits eligibility.
What about multiple part-time positions?
An employee with a faculty, academic professional or postdoctoral position that is less than 0.50 FTE will not be allowed to hold more than one job at the university. If multiple departments or colleges desire to share a part-time employee, there must be a single offer letter that specifies expectations and proportion of FTE for each department or college for each of the assignments that comprise that single job, consistent with the limit of 0.40 FTE during a given semester. If changes are made to any of the assignments comprising the original offer, an amendment to the original letter will be made.
Multiple departments or colleges may share a full-time benefits-eligible, nontenure eligible position, in which case there must be one offer letter that specifies expectations and proportion of FTE for each department or college for each of the assignments that comprise that single job. Sharing colleges should reach an agreement on how benefits costs are to be shared, if applicable. This sort of arrangement should only be used to meet a critical instructional need that cannot be met through regular Faculty Associate appointments.
Departments may use multiple job records in HRIS to manage and pay for assignments that cross sessions — e.g., one course or record for A and one course or record — for C or departments, but the records must be managed by the respective college business office to ensure Faculty Associate positions do not exceed 0.40 FTE for the semester.
See the question regarding the appropriate FTE for HRIS instructions on entering assignments that cross sessions.
For a full-time faculty member who teaches an overload in his/her regular department, compensation for the overload will be paid as supplemental pay (not as a separate job), unless otherwise approved. Per ACD 510-02, supplemental pay equivalent to greater than 33 percent of the regular pay requires approval from the Provost’s Office. For a full-time faculty or staff employee who teaches outside of their regular department or job, compensation will be paid through a separate job.
- A staff employee who teaches outside his/her regular job should be given a second job titled instructional Professional or another staff title.
- A standard offer letter template that includes language prohibiting part-time employees from holding more than one job at ASU may be obtained from the Provost's Office.
Can students with a graduate teaching or research assistantships also teach part-time?
A key purpose of a graduate teaching or research assistantship is to enhance the student’s education and training. Even so, graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants are first and foremost graduate students. Students who hold graduate teaching or research assistantships also are pursuing graduate studies for the program to which they have been admitted.
- Students who hold 0.50 FTE cannot be hired as part-time teachers.
- If the graduate teaching or research assistantship is less than 0.40 FTE, review and approval of any potential job offer to the student must be made by the Provost’s Office and will require extra documentation.