Ratio of instructors to tenured profs could change

Regents raise cap to 20% of faculty to help colleges deal with recession

Students at Georgia's public colleges may have more lecturers teaching their classes this coming academic year under a change approved by the state Board of Regents.

The board changed its policy last month to raise the cap on lecturers from 10 percent to 20 percent of a college's faculty. The amended rule allows all colleges to use lecturers, not just research institutions.

Lecturers are instructors who don't have tenure. They earn less and have the time to teach more courses than professors, who conduct research. National studies show lecturers often teach freshmen and introductory courses.

Officials with the University System of Georgia have been reviewing all policies, and Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst said the change gives college leaders more flexibility as they deal with the economic downturn. College leaders can use lecturers to start new majors and meet students' needs in high-demand courses, Herbst said.

Lecturers make up less than 5 percent of the faculty at the University of Georgia, and there are no immediate plans to increase the number, said Jere Morehead, vice president for instruction. He said students choose UGA because they want to study under research faculty.

Officials at Kennesaw State University said they have relied on part-time and temporary faculty to keep up with increased student enrollment and will convert some of them into lecturers.

Thomas Eaves, associate provost at Clayton State University, said the college will likely increase its lecturers, who can also assist with student advising.

Some faculty questioned why the state didn't set a cap on the number of part-time adjunct faculty.

"It doesn't make any sense why you would address one but not the other," said Hugh Hudson, a Georgia State University history professor and head of the state chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Hudson said the 20 percent cap on lecturers prevents "an outright assault on tenure."

Herbst said colleges have always had adjunct professors, but that limits are needed for lecturers.

"We don't want there to be so many lecturers that it creates an imbalance with tenured professors," she said. "Lecturers do fill a need, but what really makes a university stable is the tenured faculty. We never want to cut into those ranks too much."