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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2004

Faculty Task Force Recommends a Fix-It Plan for New Scholars

A task force investigating faculty recruitment and retention at Canadian universities says administrators must do more to attract and retain new scholars.

The task force, established three years ago by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, thinks too many new faculty members are not offered the support they need in the critical first few years of their careers.

"While new scholars are excited by the opportunities offered for professional and personal development in their tenure-track appointments, many also often experience significant feelings of alienation, uneasiness, and frustration - feelings which are not always effectively dealt with by current institutional practices," the task force concludes.

To help universities address this problem, the task force is releasing recommendations and a manual of best practices for meeting the needs of new scholars.

"All departments, faculties, unions and administrations are currently doing several things, which foster a community of scholars and our manual is a compilation of successful practices already in place in many institutions across the country," said Patricia Demers, professor of English at the University of Alberta and chair of the task force.

To help ease the transition from graduate student to faculty member, the task force recommends that departments, faculties and administrations develop mentoring programs to help guide new faculty through the "labyrinth of institutional expectations and demands."

In addition, the task force's proposed model calls for administrators to adopt practices that assure teaching and service assignments are fairly and equitably distributed and that junior faculty members are fully aware of their progress towards tenure.

"Anecdotal evidence reveals that new scholars find the tenure process enormously stressful," the task force
offers. "They report that much of this stress results from the fact that they often receive conflicting, and politically charged, information about the process from a variety of sources."

The task force also said scholars taking on contract employment should be on an equal basis as those receiving tenure-track appointments.

"In several disciplines, contract faculty are responsible for nearly 50 per cent of undergraduate teaching," the task force notes. "Their work in our departments is, in many cases, indispensable. Given the level of commitment to their profession and to their academic careers and also given the contribution they make to our intellectual communities, new faculty hired on temporary contracts need to be welcomed into the academy with the same enthusiasm and support given new tenure-track faculty."

Copies of the CFHSS manual, The Academy as Community, will be available soon at