A few weeks ago, a new pilot program for scheduling part-time faculty made its debut in CHSS. The Course Scheduling Pool Program, or CSP, initiates a three-tier scheduling process for CNM faculty. Full-time faculty are scheduled first, veteran part-time faculty who have elected to join a CSP and who have been approved to do so are scheduled second, and remaining part-time faculty are scheduled last. This replaces the two-tier system used before Fall 2017. This scheduling system was designed to offer some stability in scheduling to veteran part-time faculty so they could plan their academic year more effectively. The trade-off, for the part-time faculty bargaining team that negotiated this pilot program, was the opportunity for CNM to budget health insurance benefit costs more predictably.
However, since significant misinformation about this program is circulating, this column clarifies the issues the program does and does not address. First, this is not a program that caps the number of classes that can be assigned to part-time faculty. Such a proposal would have been a non-starter for the part-time faculty negotiating team that spent more than a year debating this program and other items in the part-time faculty contract that was ratified in December 2016. Second, not every department will choose to create a CSP. Some departments will continue to schedule part-time faculty as they have in the past, based on seniority and class availability. Third, this program does not guarantee a specific number of classes to veteran part-time faculty in the Course Scheduling Pools but it does assure that veteran part-time faculty in the pools will be offered course loads averaging to at least 10 credit hours per term, subject to some caveats.
Before this program was conceived, part-time faculty health insurance eligibility was erratic. For instance, a single employee might begin a semester with enough classes to qualify for health insurance benefits at CNM, lose that eligibility when a course failed to gain enough enrollment and was cancelled, and then regain eligibility when assigned a late-start class that had adequate enrollment. Multiply that single employee, going in and out of benefit eligibility three times in the course of a two-week period, by several hundred part-time employees with the same set of scheduling issues, and you can see why CNM was willing to entertain the possibility of creating an alternative course scheduling system.
To address this problem, CNM was willing, for the first time, to offer some scheduling stability to part-time faculty. In the past CNM has maintained that no part-time faculty member was guaranteed a class assignment, no matter how many years he or she had taught for CNM. As CNM’s enrollment began to decline, this created severe hardships for veteran part-time faculty who sometimes taught the equivalent of a full-time faculty load in some departments. The new program offers some stability for those veteran part-time faculty who are available and willing to accept a teaching load averaging ten credit hours per term for each term of the academic year. The Course Scheduling Pool Summary from the Key Processes page on the Academic Affairs website says “Faculty included in this Pool will be offered course loads averaging to at least 10 credit hours per term.” The operative phrase here is “at least.” That means that course loads offered to part-time faculty included in the pool are not limited to 10 credit hours per term but that they will be offered course loads averaging “at least” 10 credit hours per term.
But what if you opt-in and are not accepted into the Course Scheduling Pool? Or, what if your department does not have a Course Scheduling Pool? Does that mean you will not be able to teach at CNM or that your courses will be capped at less than 10 credit hours per term? Absolutely not. I spoke with Human Resources Senior Director Tom Manning about this very issue to be sure that my understanding is consistent with contract language. Manning explained that course assignments for part-time faculty are based on operational need, a term that covers a variety of issues in various CNM departments, the most pressing of which for part-time faculty assignments, is class availability, and that, as we all know, is subject to enrollment. Full-time faculty course loads must be satisfied first, since CNM is contractually obligated to assign a specific number of courses to full-time faculty. However, depending on enrollment (operational need), CNM is “not seeking to arbitrarily suppress for its own sake,” part-time faculty course assignments. In short, part-time faculty, both those in a Course Scheduling Pool Program and those who are not in a Course Scheduling Pool Program, may be assigned courses equating to more than ten credit hours per term. That does not mean that part-time faculty will receive the same number of courses they have been assigned in the past—enrollment is declining, after all. However, the Union’s part-time faculty bargaining team did not arbitrarily create a pilot program that would cap part-time faculty course assignments at 10 credit hours per term and CNM had no intention of creating such a program either. Anyone who tells you that is stating, in the oft-repeated words of Kellyanne Conway, “alternative facts.”
For reference to the specific details concerning the Course Scheduling Pool see the part-time faculty contract and the Course Scheduling Pool Program Details on this website (click on Contracts in the Menu) and the Academic Affairs Key Processes website Faculty (Part-Time) Course Scheduling Pool Documents (https://www.cnm.edu/depts/academic-affairs/key-processes/faculty-processes)