Penn State wins Delphi Award for enhancing support for non-tenure track faculty

November 08, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has been named as one of only two recipients of this year’s Delphi Award, which recognizes innovative support of adjunct faculty in promoting student success.

The Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California, which administers the annual award in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, selected Penn State as one of this year’s winners for the University’s multi-year efforts to overhaul the system of promotion, review and definition of academic rank for non-tenure track faculty.

The changes being recognized by the Delphi Award include establishing a consistent title and rank system for teaching faculty; standardizing promotion procedures and including non-tenure track faculty members in the review process; and forming committees of non-tenure track faculty to examine opportunities and support for non-tenure track faculty at each of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses. One of the major goals of this initiative was securing longer, multi-year contracts for many non-tenure track faculty across the University, benefitting these faculty members by creating greater job stability.

The policy on non-tenure track promotion and academic rank — university policy AC21 —was enacted in 2018 and represents years of work by the Penn State Faculty Senate and the efforts of three separate Senate chairs in close collaboration with University administration. Since being enacted, 390 non-tenure track faculty members have been promoted under this policy.

“I believe these efforts exemplify the best of what shared governance can be.”

– Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones

“Developing this policy over the past half decade was a mission priority for the University Faculty Senate because it provides improved opportunities for the more than 3,000 non-tenure line faculty at Penn State, which in turn better supports their professional goals and the students they serve,” said Nicholas Rowland, current chair of Penn State's University Faculty Senate. “We are fortunate to work at an institution that values its faculty in this way. Having the support of the administration was instrumental in developing this watershed policy that improves the working lives of non-tenure-line faculty across the commonwealth.”

Members of University leadership, including Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones, worked closely with Faculty Senate in developing and implementing the new policy.

"We are thrilled to be the recipient of this year’s Delphi Award. Much hard work has occurred between the University administration and Faculty Senate to support non-tenure track faculty in their exemplary efforts to drive student success,” Jones said. “I am especially thankful for the ongoing commitment and multi-year collaboration with three separate Faculty Senate chairs. I believe these efforts exemplify the best of what shared governance can be. At Penn State, we embrace all members of our faculty and work to put into place opportunities for them to thrive, including improved promotion channels to support professional goals.”

Laura Cruz, an associate research professor of teaching and learning scholarship, helped compile the materials to nominate Penn State for the Delphi Award. She said the breadth of Penn State’s new policy represents nothing short of “a change in university culture” — one that has the potential to serve as a model for other institutions.

“Because we are one Penn State, we are able to effect change on an unprecedented level of scale and scope, and our extensive efforts have the potential to serve as a rich source of evidence and practice for a range of change strategies to be implemented at other universities,” Cruz said.

Last Updated November 12, 2019