Faculty Status Committee Supplementary Report

Presented to the Executive Board on November 28, 2000

 

At the end of Spring Semester 1999 the Executive Board requested that the ad hoc Faculty Status Committee reconvene in order to consider several questions that had arisen since the committeeís original report was submitted to the Executive Board in September 1997. The committee solicited additional information from the Office of Human Resources, and then considered the questions individually, communicating via e-mail. The committeeís supplementary report follows, and individual membersí comments are appended. Members of the committee are Rick Moore (Chair), Tom Akins, Charles Brown, Chuck Donbaugh, Bill Sayle, Ed Thomas, and Marilyn Williamson.

Questions Addressed by the Committee

  1. Should we consider retroactive award of General Faculty status to people who were hired sometime in the past to positions which will now merit General Faculty status? At least one group of such employees has requested General Faculty status.
  2. Should employment rules for "Professional Classified Staff" (Statutes, 2.4.1.1(c)) be different in any way from those for other General Faculty? For example, General Faculty status seems to confer the right to consult one day per week. Is consulting an appropriate activity for "Professional Classified Staff?"
  3. Should Georgia Tech approach the Board of Regents and recommend that all Tech employees be permitted to participate in an Optional Retirement Plan?

Retroactive Award of Faculty Status

The committee believes that retroactive reclassification should be considered. Indeed part of one of the long term goals included in the 1997 committee report was a recommendation that titles of existing personnel and positions be reviewed to determine whether they should be changed to better reflect job function. Further, the committee recommended that the responsibility for such review should rest with individual units.

The potential cost of a large-scale retrospective change of status is a consideration that would need to be addressed. Presumably, increases in vacation accrual rates would be the most costly aspect for Georgia Tech of a change to faculty status for many individuals at the same time. The right to participate in faculty governance would not be costly to Georgia Tech. If retroactive changes become possible, procedures would need to be developed. These procedures should include justification by the supervisor for the change, and a statement of changes in benefits for the staff member together with a signed agreement by the unit head and the individual that the unit approves benefit changes and will bear any additional cost (e.g. for enhanced vacation accrual) through existing resources of the unit.

Employment Rules for Professional Classified Staff

This committee reaffirms that all members of the General Faculty should have the same perquisites insofar as Georgia Tech can provide them, and should work under the same employment rules. For example, if consulting is an appropriate General Faculty activity, then everyone in the General Faculty should be eligible and qualified to consult. Since consulting activities require permission of the supervisor, it does not seem likely that inappropriate participation in consulting would become a problem. As long as Georgia Tech determines through the professional nature of job requirements that an employee is a member of the General Faculty, there should be no difference in employment rules for any segment of the General Faculty.

Participation in Optional Retirement Plans

Questions about faculty status, and special requests for faculty status for new employees had increased over the years as Georgia Tech became a larger and more complex institution and as competition in hiring increased nationally. Pressure to clarify the meaning of faculty status increased, and requests that new employees receive faculty status became more numerous when the State of Georgia made Optional Retirement Plans possible for University System faculty members but not for classified staff. Even though faculty status has now been more clearly defined, there is still some perceived dissatisfaction with the availability of Optional Retirement Plans.

Some members of the committee suggest that Georgia Tech ask the Board of Regents to permit all employees to choose an Optional Retirement Plan if they so desire. (At least one member does not concur with this suggestion.) Many persons hired into staff positions at Georgia Tech are recruited on a nationwide basis, and the rigidity of the Teachers Retirement System is a substantial hindrance to effective recruitment. For this reason, we would ask that Optional Retirement Plans be made available to all incoming employees, faculty and staff alike; and the option should be extended to all existing employees as well, as long as they are not vested in TRS. At a minimum, employees who transfer from staff to faculty positions should be allowed to choose an Optional Retirement Plan if they are not vested in the Teachers Retirement System at the time of the transfer. Such a change is not now possible, and it may be perceived as an inequity by affected individuals.

The committee does not believe that the Board of Regents would respond affirmatively to such a request, but several of the members feel that the request should be made anyway as an expression of the presumed will of the faculty and staff. The minority view would include political and financial reasons for not making the request.

Appendix: Committee Membersí Individual Responses to the Questions:

Answers to Question 1:

Answers to Question 2:

Question 3: