Chapter 1 – Introduction

The Faculty Handbook is a living part of our academic community that contains the central policies of the University.  My deepest thanks go to the Academic Senate and its committees for their continuing crucial role in determining these policies.  The amendments in this edition of the Faculty Handbook were carefully developed over the last two years by the Senate Handbook Committee, reflecting recommendations by school faculty councils, the advocacy of the Senate Committee on Non-tenure-track Faculty Affairs (as it was known then), and the review of the Senate Executive Board, and were voted upon by the Senate after discussion at two Senate meetings this Spring.

Development toward inclusivity

The amendments in this edition that are closest to my heart deal with the essential matter of understanding who and what are USC’s faculty.  Over the decades, USC’s Senate has led the way in defining the faculty appropriate for our university’s evolving academic model.  The tenure system is primary at USC and will remain primary.  The size of our tenure-track and tenured faculty has not diminished and we intend to grow it.  Our preference is that every appointment we make is tenure-track or tenured, except where there is a sound academic reason otherwise.  Indeed, the Senate recognized years ago that sometimes such academic reasons do exist, because tenure’s requirement of an up-or-out decision after six years was too restrictive to be applied to all the faculty required by USC’s research, clinical, and educational purposes.  The Senate expanded its faculty model so that each of our schools could create positions according to its needs, including faculty with a more intensive research load, teaching load, clinical or practical training load.  This flexibility allowed our schools to enhance research, provide students a better educational experience, and offer patient care and professional training that take advantage of our location in a great metropolis.

The Handbook’s developments on these subjects lead me to two observations. First, the current Handbook amendments dealing with faculty outside the tenure track are organic developments rooted in our history.  And, second, USC’s growth toward inclusivity of faculty of every track is an achievement that is rare among great research universities.  We are far from perfect, but we have made remarkable progress.

Let me now recount the evolution of the Senate’s thinking on this subject as shown from the pages of past Handbooks and Senate records .  Our first Faculty Handbook in 1950 acknowledged that we had part-time faculty to meet certain academic needs: teaching staff would be recruited each semester as needed from local professional and business people to supplement regular faculty for a unit called University College that offered late afternoon and evening courses, as well as for the Civic Center Division of what was then the School of Public Administration.  Faculty Handbooks beginning with 1961 also recognized that some researchers would have ”employment under special contracts” lasting for the duration of the research contracts or foundation grants.  The 1971 Handbook announced that some “distinguished” part-timers could have ranks with adjunct or clinical professorial titles, while other part-timers were designated lecturer.  In the 1972 Handbook “adjunct” faculty were defined in a way that did not yet fully embrace them: “adjunct to, but not an integral part of, a department or school.”

The 1979 Handbook recognized the general category called “special faculty” parallel to the Handbook’s longstanding reference to “regular faculty,” and restated the restriction that lecturers had part-time appointments only.  In 1984 the Handbook modified our policy to recognize full-time as well as part-time lecturers, but the full-timers could serve only up to one year.  In 1985-86, the Senate’s Special Committee on Promotion and Tenure Policy considered the faculty status of our librarian colleagues.  A 1993 Senate article noted the number of non-standard special faculty titles then in use, such as language instructor and field professor.

1997 was the first year that the Senate Nominating Committee put up a non-tenure-track professor as one of the two candidates in the election for Senate president.  In 1998 the Handbook changed the nomenclature for the category in an attempt to be more respectful, from “special faculty” to “non-tenure-track faculty.”  Lecturers were authorized to serve full-time up to three years in any discipline, not just one year and not just part-time, and a “senior lecturer (special skills)” could be appointed beyond three years, but only in designated skill-based fields.  As a special case to accommodate the practice in mathematics, the undifferentiated title of assistant professor was authorized for a non-tenure-track appointment up to three years.

A major step was the 1998 Handbook’s recognition of the diversity of academic needs among our schools.  Each school’s faculty and dean were asked to establish school-specific written guidelines on non-tenure-track faculty, which would be reviewed by the Provost with the advice of the Academic Senate Executive Board.  Each school would determine its own appropriate limit on the percentage of teaching-track faculty.

The academic rationale for non-tenure-track faculty in our university was stated in a 2002 Senate white paper that the provost endorsed as University policy: Where it is feasible, it is better to appoint a tenure-track faculty member.  However, some proportion of non-tenure-track teachers may be academically desirable in a given unit, whether to bring an admixture of practical orientation to students in a professional school, or to do skills teaching in the College.  Part-time non-tenure-track appointment is generally to be avoided.  Part-time appointment is appropriate for an individual who holds some other primary full-time position and is asked to teach a course because of special expertise.  Schools were asked to avoid use of “freeway flyers.”

The Academic Senate took another major step in 2010 by abolishing time limits for full-time non-tenure-track faculty appointments.  In addition, professorial titles and promotional tracks were authorized for all these colleagues.  I am glad to say that our evolving USC model is that a majority of full-time teaching-track appointees now hold multi-year contracts.  In Dornsife College, for example, every teaching-track faculty member promoted to associate professor receives a three-year appointment, and everyone promoted to full professor has a five-year appointment.

Non-tenure-track faculty have long been represented in faculty governance, including service on the Senate and as chairs and members of University-level committees and school faculty councils.  The role of non-tenure-track colleagues in governance was formalized in 2012 by an amendment to the Senate constitution.

The 2014 Handbook recognized basic principles growing out of the 2001 Senate white paper. Tenure is indispensable to the success of our institution in fulfilling our obligations to students and to society and USC is committed to the tenure system.  “Adjunct” titles are limited to those who already have a primary position or an equivalent artistic career.  So-called “freeway flyers” teaching at multiple academic institutions are not appropriate at USC.  Non-tenure-track faculty actively participate in faculty governance at both the school and University level, except in matters concerning tenure.  As continues to be declared unchanged in 4-B (4)(a), the tenure system is the principal form of faculty appointment, and tenured or tenure-track appointments are preferred whenever feasible.  Research-track and clinical-track full time faculty are invaluable to help perform the research and clinical practice missions of the University, and teaching-track and practitioner-track faculty may be invaluable for our teaching mission when it is academically desirable to make such appointments, for example to bring a practical orientation or to teach skills.  Part-time appointments are generally to be avoided, but are appropriate for individuals who are asked to teach a course because of special expertise and who have another full-time position or career.  Any exceptions require special approval by the Provost.

Our shared governance system deals with faculty on their individual merits.  In 2014 a teaching-track faculty member, Professor Ginger Clark, was elected by her Senate colleagues to be president-elect of the Academic Senate.  Her presidency was a landmark among research universities that drew national attention.

Current changes embodying inclusivity

The Senates minutes show that during 2015 and 2016 the Senate resolved to retire the term “non-tenure-track” because it defined people for what they are not, and replaced it by referring to research-track, teaching-track, professional-track, and clinical track.  (Subsequent consideration led to the term practitioner-track instead of professional-track, and we have sometimes used the term practice-track.)  Here, as elsewhere in the Handbook, “clinical-track” refers to health professionals, even though some schools use the word “clinical” to designate colleagues on the teaching-track.

The Senate recognized that, with a few exceptions such as tenure rights, all faculty at USC have the same rights and responsibilities in the Faculty Handbook and resolved that the Handbook should therefore refer to them as one body, except where there is a clear need for distinction between the various tracks and profiles of faculty.  Subsequently the Handbook Committee was also directed to remove from the text any differentiation between part-time and full-time faculty except where it is truly needed.

Taken together, those actions demonstrate a self-understanding that is rare among great research universities: in our academic culture and in faculty governance, we are all one faculty, whatever our status.

The history I have just recounted shows that the Senate is not a newcomer to these topics.  It has devoted continuing attention to how best to define our faculty to meet our evolving academic needs.

I will now summarize how the principles of the 2015 and 2016 Senate resolutions are expressed in this edition of the Faculty Handbook.

The old term “non-tenure-track faculty” is replaced by “teaching-track, research-track, clinical-track, practitioner-track, and librarian faculty,” in 3-B (2)(a) on activity profiles; the relevant sections (b) through (h) discuss their appropriate responsibilities. 4-D (2) and 4-G make the same change in nomenclature.

2-B (1) declares that “the faculty” and retired faculty constitute the Faculty Assembly, without differentiating separate tracks, and 3-A defines the composition of “the faculty” inclusive of all faculty regardless of status. 3-E (2), 4-A, and 4-B (2)(d) reflect the same shift to using “faculty” as the general term.  These wordings follow the existing 2-B (3) which has always said that “the faculty” of each school have established an elected Faculty Council.  In discussing the selection of division or departmental chairs, the wording of 2-A (3)(b) clarifies that all full-time faculty, not just tenured and tenure-track faculty, are consulted, paralleling language elsewhere in that section.  4-B (3)(b), instead of carving out mention of “non-tenure-track faculty” from the category of “faculty,” instead carves out “tenure-track faculty.”  This section, like 4-D (2), also reminds the reader that being a candidate for tenure is not an unalloyed positive as it means that one is subject to an up-or-out decision.  The wording at the beginning of 8-A on formal dismissal for cause is clarified to deal with all statuses of faculty.  8-D recognizes that the President of the Faculty need not be a tenured faculty member.

Our tradition of inclusiveness is reflected in 4-C (2), which restates our practice that part-time faculty are eligible to be elected or appointed to faculty governance bodies.  Each academic unit determines for itself the best way to incorporate the perspectives of part-timers.  In both the first and fifth sentences of 3-B (4), the language is changed to avoid distinguishing between full-time and part-time faculty.  4-H (1) deals with inclusion of part-time faculty in personnel panels dealing with a part-timer.

Other current amendments

The Handbook changes I have discussed reflect the inclusive definition of our faculty.  There are many other amendments in this edition.  Following my custom, I will now summarize some of them.

2-A (3)(b) makes the process of selection of a chair more transparent by requiring that, when it is the Provost who makes the decision, the dean and faculty are provided with its rationale.  2-B (4) simplifies the wording recognizing that, in our system of shared governance, University and Academic Senate committees exercise a wide range of powers and duties delegated by the President.  Members of University committees continue to be nominated by the Academic Senate and others and, as is our practice, can be appointed by someone else in place of the President.

3-I (4) on outside educational work was wholly rewritten to state clearly the process for requesting approval, and the criteria applied.  Faculty should submit to the Provost’s office a request for advance authorization.  What will be considered, for example, are whether the outside work duplicates what we teach, dilutes our academic stature, or interferes with the faculty member’s USC responsibilities.

As to 3-E (3)(b) and (3)(c), I would like to mention some additional ways in which we recognize faculty rights.   We consider any reasonable accommodations necessary to enable a disabled faculty member to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by similarly-situated faculty who are without disabilities; we observe California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law; we provide leaves to deal with serious health conditions of a domestic partner’s child; and we recognize that sometimes, by law, some protected leaves do not run concurrently.

In 4-B (2) on faculty titles, subsection (b) corrects the titles of contract librarians, (d)(1) clarifies that our faculty teach courses for USC credit, and (f) permits USC staff to receive a title as adjunct professor, not just as lecturer, when given permission to teach a course for credit.  Such staff remain subject to staff policies.  (e)(2) recognizes the visiting assistant professor type of appointment now used in some disciplines for temporary faculty who are entry-level.

4-B (2)(f) makes clear that “adjunct” appointments are for those who have some other primary position or career (or have retired from one).  Part-time faculty who do not meet that definition are properly termed “part-time lecturers” and such appointments can be made only when required by exceptional need.  Existing 4-B (4) makes clear that this exception requires special approval by the Provost.

4-B (2)(h) and 4-B (3)(c) recognize that the category of “academic staff” (previously termed “affiliated academic staff”) encompasses, for example, research scientists and teachers of non-credit subject matter.  In addition to the titles listed other non-faculty titles can be used as appropriate.  Academic staff are not faculty and fall under non-faculty policies, whether as staff, students, post-doctorals, or some specially defined category.  Some material was moved to this section from 3-A.

4-B (4) states the traditional interpretation that in preserving the tenure system as the principal form of faculty appointment, it is the number of teaching-track appointments that are to be considered when each school sets its limit.  Research-track and clinical-track appointments are based on the needs of externally-funded grants and contracts, and patient needs.

In 4-D (1), to remove unnecessary detail, language has been deleted that stated that with one or two years of prior service, the maximum probationary period will be shorter by that amount.

5-B added a cross-reference to the limited cases discussed thereafter.  5-B (2) deals with research that is classified, export-controlled, or has other restrictions, and incorporates language based on recommendations from the Senate-Provost Research Committee.

Wording has been changed in a number of places within chapter 6 on sexual harassment and similar matters.  In 6-A (2)(a) and (2)(b) and 6-E (3), references to “student” and “victim” are revised. 6-A (9)(a) and 6-E (1)(a) point to the policies and practices of the Office of Equity and Diversity, and 6-A (9)(b) clarifies some of the language on fairness. 6-A (13), on harassment not based on a protected category, has been moved from 6-B (3).  Under existing 6-E (1), the University may designate persons to deal with such complaints in place of the Office of Equity and Diversity.  6-B (2)(b) removes unnecessary detail. New 6-B (4.5) provides an explicit prohibition of non-consensual viewing or recording of sexual activity, or dissemination of such recordings.  6-D (1)(b) reaffirms the principle that it is only the Office of Equity and Diversity that investigates and that reaches factual findings and conclusions on whether there has been a violation of the policies in Chapter 6.  No other USC unit, individual or committee is permitted to do so, except for the appeal to the Provost’s delegate that is provided in 6-F (1) and except for harassment not based on a protected category as provided in 6-E (1).  Similarly, 7-D declares that, for cases involving Chapter 6, a grievance panel does not substitute its judgment for the Chapter 6 process. 6-E (1)(b) and 6-F add references to designees. 6-E (4), 6-F (1), 6-F (4) and 6-G (1) deal with process details, and clarify current practice.

A change in 7-B (2) looks forward to the Academic Senate’s future provision of an online method to file grievances.  There are several other amendments to chapter 7 on grievances that clarify or make explicit what was already our practice. 7-B (1)(a) and (b) make clear that faculty are invited to discuss and consult on any work-related grievance with the President of the Faculty, and with the Vice Provost who represents the Provost. Another addition in 7-B (2) deals with selection of the panel if there is more than one party on a side, for example in a hearing from a Chapter 6 ruling when the original complainant and respondent may be parties in addition to the University. 7-C (2)(a) clarifies how to calculate a deadline.  7-C (4) deals with the situation where a party claims that some material is “necessary” evidence and requests the good offices of the hearing panel to secure it.  Material generally cannot be provided if it involves the privacy of an individual or is confidential or legally privileged.  The committee chair or panel may request the Provost to make a ruling on such material; the committee does not make the ruling.  This is the existing practice. 7-C (4) also reaffirms our traditional principle that a grievances panel’s report is to deal only with the issue of infringements of the grievant’s rights, and is not to discuss other matters.  And 7-C (4) also restates the provision of 6-A (9)(b) that in Title IX cases both the original complainant and respondent have equal opportunity to participate in the grievance.  7-C (5) recognizes that, in matters involving Title VII or Title IX, government guidance requires the burden of persuasion to be the preponderance of the evidence, but otherwise the standard is clear and convincing evidence.  The former wording of “a clear, persuasive preponderance” of evidence “in the record considered as a whole” meant the same but could be confusing to those used to the terminology familiar in courts. In the first sentence of the second paragraph of 7-D, “actions under chapter 6” was added.  As I noted above, grievance panels do not re-do the investigation, the findings, or the conclusions of chapter 6 matters, which under 6-D (1)(b) are the sole responsibility of the Office of Equity and Diversity.

8-D (1) adds a requirement of the associate professor rank so that those involved in the decision have appropriate experience. 8-D (2)  continues the Handbook’s longstanding policy that the procedures for grievances are the same as for dismissal cases, with the University having the same burden of persuasion for dismissal as grievants have for grievances.

9-AA clarifies that the parent receiving the benefit is the sole caregiver half time or more during the work week. 9-D clarifies the process.

Finally, some changes are housekeeping matters.  Citations to websites have been updated throughout the Handbook.  In a number of places, subheads, paragraphing, or paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference.  2-A (1) and (2) update the size of the Board of Trustees and list of University officers and 3-F updates a committee name. In 2-A (3)(b), “academic units” replaces the terms “divisions or departments.”  In 3-E (2), 4-B (2)(i), and 4-B (3)(b), references are corrected. Throughout Chapter 6, the term “complainant” replaces “accuser” and “victim,” the term “respondent” replaces “accused” and “alleged offender,” and the new name Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services is used for what was previously called the Center for Women & Men.  In 6-A (8) and 6-D (1)(a), names of individuals and contact information have been updated.  6-A (11) refers to a statute by its full name.  In 6-B and 6-B (2), mention of staff is deleted: while the Faculty Handbook used to include sexual harassment policies concerning staff, staff are now governed by a separate policy.

General comments

I now turn from a summary of various amendments to some general matters.  As I state in each edition, the Faculty Handbook contains many, though not all, of the current official policies of the University directly affecting the faculty, as established by the Board of Trustees or by the President under authority delegated by the Board of Trustees.  Our Board of Trustees has specifically affirmed its endorsement and support of a collegial process of consultation and review in the development of amendments to the Faculty Handbook.  In language that has also long been set out in Section 2 of the Handbook, the Trustees’ policy in this regard states:

The Board of Trustees endorses and supports a collegial process of consultation and review in the development of amendments to the Faculty Handbook.  This process must include, at a minimum, the Academic Senate and Provost’s Council, and may also include representatives of other university constituencies which might be affected by such amendments.  To be sure, any amendments that are endorsed by the Academic Senate and approved by the President will be incorporated into the Faculty Handbook.  However, the University Bylaws make it clear that the Academic Senate is strictly advisory with respect to the President. Thus, in the context of a collegial process of consultation and review, the policy of the Board of Trustees has been and continues to be that the President bears the final authority and responsibility for amending the Faculty Handbook. 

As might occur in the governance of any complex organization, conflicts may arise from time to time in the interpretation of sections of this Handbook vis–à–vis the University Bylaws or the policies of the Board of Trustees.  As in previous editions, the Handbook continues to make clear that the language of the Bylaws and the Trustees’ policies will prevail.

This edition of the Faculty Handbook continues the tradition of stating some basic principles.  A number of more detailed policies are available at www.usc.edu/policies.  In order to be official policy, a document must bear the signature of the president or the senior vice president for academic affairs, administration or finance.  Official policies may also be established by resolution of the Board of Trustees.  School-specific guidelines yield to university-wide policies if there is any conflict.  Some very useful web sites are the Faculty Portal, http://www.usc.edu/faculty/, the Academic Senate, http://academicsenate.usc.edu/, and Information for Research, Teaching, Practitioner, and Clinical Faculty, http://rtpc.usc.edu/.

Shared governance

I reaffirm with appreciation what previous Faculty Handbooks have declared:  Faculty are partners in the work of the University, in the collective responsibilities of managing the academic enterprise as well as in their roles in teaching, research, artistic creation and professional practice.  Faculty bear the responsibilities of leadership in our university, and I am grateful that our finest scholars, educators and artists take their turn in carrying a wide range of roles. Emblematic of eminent faculty who have carried these responsibilities is the late Solomon Golomb, who passed away this year, who had been both a Senate president and a laureate of the National Medal of Science.

The Academic Senate constitution, approved by a 2-1 vote in an all-university faculty referendum in 1993, describes our tripartite system of shared governance:  Each school has an elected faculty council.  The Academic Senate is made up of the presidents or other leaders of those councils and the Senate draws on the entire University faculty in electing its own officers.  University-level faculty committees deal with a wide range of specific subjects.  Many of those committees report to the Senate while the independence of decision-making committees is protected by a provision in the Senate’s constitution.  Underlying this University shared governance system is the traditional structure of faculty meetings and committees within the academic units, a structure that is vital for our academic excellence.

It is one of the great strengths of USC’s faculty and of the University as a whole that the Senate is an “Academic” Senate: the faculty chose that name to symbolize our shared mission.  The Senate’s first purpose, as declared in the constitution, is “to contribute to the intellectual vitality of the University.”  So it is truly apt that Senate President Clark’s memo transmitting to me the first tranche of the current Handbook amendments began, “The Academic Senate recognizes the important role that all USC faculty play in lifting up the University, and contributing to its stature as a top tier research institution.”

The Senate Constitution declares that our faculty governance bodies are forums for faculty decision-making, and are the voice of the faculty in the making of university policy and the consideration of academic issues.  Our evolving Faculty Handbook is a vital aspect of our shared governance, and I thank all those who have helped shape this edition.

C. L. Max Nikias
President