Students do not often have the opportunity to learn and think deeply about faculty concerns; however, Debbie and I had the opportunity to join the 2019 Joint Provost/Academic Senate Retreat as Presidents of the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Governments. Focusing primarily on two broad topics, experts in various areas presented for 15-20 minutes on facts and figures about specific parts of USC.
The first session was based on faculty composition, with presentations about the changing faculty populations, USC’s own statistics and trends, the importance of faculty diversity, and understanding the newer research track. As a student, I never really knew the differences between different types of faculty until the past year. Did you know that besides tenured faculty and tenure-track faculty (TF and TTF, respectively), there are research, teaching, practice, and clinical (RTPC) faculty? These are all full-time faculty that make up a whopping 37% of the 7,400 members at USC. Adjunct faculty, who operate part-time, make up another 20%!
As someone who often hears other students complain about the status/title of their instructor, I was blown away by knowing more about the purpose of each type of faculty and the differences in how they are treated. Because both past and current faculty roles have never been intentionally designed, there is now a disproportionate emphasis on research and publications over core competencies in teaching and service. While there was no concrete action plan set in place to fully consider the diversity of faculty within the larger university mission, it was fascinating to absorb all these statistics and arguments for a more inclusive faculty body.
The retreat also covered strategies to work together across schools and break down existing barriers for collaboration. We often discuss how USC is compartmentalized into “siloes” and the problems of repetitive and restricted access to resources. This was not a surprise at all – we often discuss this issue in student government meetings and have been working on several initiatives to calibrate existing programs between all 19 schools and the many department-level programs.
All in all, I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to understand faculty concerns more deeply and connect with faculty who are interested in collaborating with students to work on common hurdles. Hopefully, the group effort to push USC in the right direction will have some fruitful outcomes soon!