Short contracts make MU’s nontenure-track faculty more vulnerable to layoffs

The University of Missouri System’s fiscal crisis could be especially difficult for nontenure-track faculty members.

In a system-wide email sent on Monday, UM System President Mun Choi announced that the system needed to cut its budget by about 8 to 12 percent for fiscal year 2018 and that layoffs of staff and NTT faculty may be necessary to get there.

Choi’s email, which put NTT faculty with staff rather than tenured and tenure-track faculty, was frustrating, said Nicole Monnier, co-chair of the MU Nontenure Track Faculty Committee.

The problem with Choi’s email, Monnier said, is that NTT faculty make up an indispensable piece of MU. NTT faculty made up 43.6 percent of MU faculty in 2016, and that number has steadily risen, up from 30 percent in 2007.

A big difference between the types of faculty is contracts. Nontenure-track faculty are hired on one- to three-year contracts without the possibility of tenure, which carries long-term job security.

The issue in a financial crisis like the one MU is facing, says John Lory, an associate extension professor in the plant sciences department of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is that NTT faculty don’t have the contract provisions to protect them. And if they aren’t renewed, those faculty are left with only months to find a new job in time for the next academic semester.

Choi’s email called for each UM campus to submit a budget plan by May 19, with final plans released on June 2.

Read more: Columbia Missourian

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