The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 16, 2012

MSU Board approves three-year contracts for faculty members

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — Mountain State University’s Board of Trustees has approved a three-year rolling contract structure for faculty members.

In the previous structure for contracts, a faculty member was given a one-year contract, renewable each year July 1 if they passed their performance reviews in April and May.

Acting president Dr. Jerry Ice says the three-year contract structure is more like that of other higher education institutions.

The Faculty Employment and Benefits Committee submitted the recommendation Dec. 9, 2011. The new contract structure will be implemented July 1 with the start of the new fiscal year.  

Ice says the Board of Trustees is 100 percent behind the new plan and faculty members have applauded it.

“Faculty members will feel more of a commitment and sense of security at the institution,” Ice said.  Adding, with a three-year rolling contract, faculty members could feel more at ease when making long-term commitments, such as purchasing a home or establishing a long-term lease.

Ice says this is a positive not only for faculty, but for students as well.

“Good teachers are rewarded by continuous employment.”

He said students “indicate high praise” for the current faculty members in feedback he has received.

“Faculty at MSU have a real commitment to development and learning.”

Ice confirms that MSU has placed offers to fill the four vacancies in the nursing department.

The Faculty Employment and Benefits Committee members believe there are many strengths with the new contract system.

In justifying the new contract structure, they say “The policy will assist in recruitment of qualified faculty. In lieu of tenure, the realization of a ‘three-year rolling contract’ supplies economic and employment security.”

For existing faculty who have a continuing contract, they can retain that contract or adopt an annually-renewable three-year contract. All faculty who have worked at the institution for two or more years, and are recommended by their dean and CAO, will receive an annually-renewable three-year contract.

If a faculty member is under a “work-improvement plan” or has worked less than two years, they will be given a one-year contract.

After that year is complete, they will either receive an additional one-year contract and an additional improvement plan, or they will be eligible for the three-year contract.

Newly hired faculty will receive a one-year contract, but after working for a full year, could be eligible for a three-year contract at the discretion of the university president.

New faculty members who have worked under a one-year contract for two consecutive years will receive an annually-renewable three-year contract.

“I think both the community, the faculty and the students have a great institution in Mountain State,” Ice said. “Faculty are attracted to teaching at Mountain State because they truly change students’ lives that otherwise may not have the opportunity to go to a higher ed institution. When you have faculty that are in that classroom because they love teaching and they can change what a student can see in their future as their ability to be successful, it makes a powerful combination of students and faculty.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com