My department has several non-tenured/non-tenure-track faculty in teaching-only positions. My department is also hiring at the tenure-track level this year and these non-tenured faculty are taking an active role in the search, even voting with the tenured and tenure-track faculty on who should be hired. Is this appropriate? Is there a precedent?

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    It is appropriate if the rules of the department allow it. Otherwise, appropriateness is purely a subjective measure. Though, I must admit, I find the idea of voting for candidates surprising. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 21:26
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    We have votes if the subcommittees don't have a clear preference. But you're right that it's better if a consensus emerges prior to voting.
    – Suresh
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 21:46
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    My point was more that these non-tenured faculty are carrying the same responsibilities as a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who just happens not to be on the search committee. This seems unusual to me because their job expectations are not the same and they are employed on a year-to-year basis.
    – user5981
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 21:56
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    So what? Are you objecting that someone is doing more work than they have to, are you objecting that the teaching faculty are being asked to do work outside their normal expectations, or are you objecting that teaching faculty aren't qualified to have an informed opinion about tenure-track hires? (My department includes a meeting with PhD students in every tenure-track faculty interview, and we take the feedback from those students very seriously. In practice, the student meetings are often the most brutal for the candidates.)
    – JeffE
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 22:11
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    Some departments will even put PhD students on the search committees.
    – mako
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


While on the job market this last year, I talked with top departments that gave all their full time non-visiting members of the faculty a vote in tenure-track faculty hires. So there is definitely precedent.

Personally, I'm not thrilled by the shift at many universities to having a larger proportion of the active faculty be non-TT. But when this means that the responsibilities of non-TT jobs are similar, it is only reasonable that the rights should be similar too.

Benefits of doing so include all things that come from a work environment that is perceived as more democratic and where all faculty get a vote in determining the future directions of the department. The drawbacks are much less clear to me.

  • If you are getting paid per-class as a contingent faculty member, then doing administrative-service work is unpaid labor. I would have no problem if contingent faculty also got paid for doing service work such as serving on committees or sitting in faculty members, but I'm sure provosts would not be happy with this.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:21
  • @RoboKaren: One thing is being given a vote. Another thing is forced to use it. In my department non-TT faculty can vote in most department matters if they choose but but they aren't forced or expected to and their participation in something that factors into their performance evaluations.
    – mako
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 22:57

Actually, there's a wide variety of latitude given to hiring processes.

At both of the universities I attended as a student, undergraduate and graduate students were involved in the selection processes for new university presidents.

Similarly, at the school where I currently work, undergraduate students regularly sit on the hiring committees for faculty hires, and can actively sink a nomination if they have concerns about his teaching credentials. (Normally, however, this implies that the other committee members have a bone to pick with the candidate as well.)

So it seems to me that there would be nothing wrong with a policy that lets non-tenured faculty vote on such a hire. After all, they are going to be colleagues, and it makes sense that there's a consensus.

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