Faculty Senate supports new titles for some faculty

The Faculty Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution that would allow Northeastern University full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members to use the title of “teaching professor” rather than “academic specialist.” The measure is intended to provide these faculty members with titles that better reflect their skills and responsibilities in the university community.

In colleges electing the use the new titles, full- time, non- tenure- track fac­ulty members currently appointed as assis­tant aca­d­emic spe­cialist, asso­ciate aca­d­emic spe­cialist, or senior aca­d­emic spe­cialist may become assis­tant teaching pro­fessor, asso­ciate teaching pro­fessor, or teaching pro­fessor, respectively.  Colleges may also consider extending the new titles to other qualified full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members, such as lecturers who hold terminal degrees in their fields.

Lori Gardinier, an associate academic specialist in Human Services who chaired the committee that investigated the issue, noted that “academic specialist” is a title not typically used in higher education.

“In our evaluation of current titles both here and elsewhere, we were reminded of the varied roles and functions that are preformed by people in these categories and made acutely aware of the complexities in identifying an appropriate alternative,” Gardinier told the Senate.

Faculty members currently holding the “academic specialist” title can choose to continue using it if they prefer. There are 182 academic specialists throughout Northeastern’s nine colleges.

The Senate also passed a resolution to eliminate three associate degree programs in the College of Professional Studies: mechanical engineering technology, computer engineering technology, and electrical engineering technology.

John LaBrie, dean of the College of Professional Studies, explained associate degree programs are no longer consistent with the college’s portfolio and that these three programs have also seen dwindling enrollment. However, the programs will still be offered to students currently enrolled in them.

In other business, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution to establish a Bachelor of Science in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. It also tabled discussion and action on a proposed resolution that would revise the nomination process for the University Excellence in Teaching Awards, which are presented annually at the Academic Honors Convocation.