The Fifth-Year Interim Report

Part III: The Fifth-Year Compliance Certification


2.8 Faculty

The number of full-time faculty members is adequate to support the mission of the institution and to ensure the quality and the integrity of each of its academic programs. Upon application for candidacy, an applicant institution demonstrates that it meets the comprehensive standard for faculty qualifications.

Judgment of Compliance

Compliance

Narrative

Alcorn State University (ASU) has adequate full-time faculty to support its mission to prepare graduates to be well-rounded future leaders of high character and to be successful in the global marketplace of the 21st century.

Adequacy of Full-Time Faculty

ASU has sufficient faculty to carry out its primary mission to “emphasize intellectual development” as evidenced by 82% (Fall 2015) and 80% (Spring 2016) credit hour production by full-time faculty. ASU does not employ a separate faculty to teach online courses. The same faculty are used to ensure the quality and the integrity of all degree programs offered at Alcorn.

In 2015, ASU enrolled 2,911 undergraduate students and 607 graduate students for a total enrollment of 3, 518 students. The institution employed 128 faculty at the rank of assistant professor or above. And, 43% of those faculty held tenure. The university also employed 39 full-time instructors and five visiting faculty. The student to faculty ratio was 17:1 based on the majority of the undergraduate student population being full-time. There were 2, 556 undergraduate students who were enrolled on a full-time basis. This student to faculty ratio has remained consistent for ASU since 2011.

Faculty Overview

There are five ranks where full time faculty can be classified and one rank for part-time faculty at ASU. The definition of each rank can be found below and in the ASU Faculty Handbook p.13-14.  In keeping with its stated core value of academic excellence, “the university upholds the highest, rigorous academic standards. We expect excellent scholarship, preparation, and performance from every student, faculty, and staff member.” Full-time faculty members, regardless of rank, are expected to perform in four distinct areas—teaching, research, service, and professional development based on the ASU Faculty Performance Evaluation.

The regular faculty consists of all persons appointed to the ranks of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and instructor. All full time faculty members hold or have the potential to hold tenure, unless their appointments specify otherwise. Instructors are not eligible for tenure. Non-tenure track faculty positions are established for full-time professional faculty employed in technical, special, career, research and public service programs, which are anticipated to have a limited lifespan or funded fully or partially through non-system resources. Part-time, temporary, visiting, adjunct, and non-tenure faculty are not tenure eligible.

Faculty Responsibility

All full-time faculty responsibilities are outlined in the ASU Faculty Handbook, p. 26, which states:

Faculty members are expected to do the following as a condition of employment at Alcorn State University:

  1. Meet all scheduled classes on time;
  2. Attend faculty meetings;
  3. Maintain approved office hours for conferences and academic advisement;
  4. Properly maintain the roll book and call the roll at each class meeting;
  5. Fulfill commitments to research and public service projects;
  6. Attend special university functions (including commencement) which may be announced from time to time;
  7. Serve on various committees to which they are assigned; and
  8. Administer examinations as scheduled by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Part-time faculty are not expected to meet all of these faculty responsibilities beyond the teaching requirements, but may be asked to attend faculty meetings and serve on university committees. However, such action is rare and unusual.

Definition of Full-time Faculty

Full-time faculty are those members whose primary appointment is within an instructional department within the university and carry at least the minimum number of credit hours designated by the university for full-time faculty or an equivalent number of hours in teaching, research, services, and/or outreach activities.

Full-time Faculty Workload

According to the ASU Faculty Handbook ,p. 27, faculty loads reflect differences in assignments for teaching undergraduate classes, advising, directing seminars, supervising clinical experiences, and directing theses. Where laboratory and skill courses are involved in determining the teaching load, two clock hours of laboratory or skill instruction equal one clock hour of lecture time. Departmental chairpersons may teach up to six (6) semester hours each academic semester. Faculty are also expected to maintain ten hours/week of office hours for advising and consulting with students.

The teaching load is twelve (12) semester hours each academic semester at the undergraduate level, and nine (9) hours at the graduate level. Because the university does not have a separate graduate faculty, all full-time faculty are generally expected to teach twelve hours of course work each academic semester. Those twelve hours may include at least three hours of graduate instruction. Two notable exceptions are the Masters of Nursing (MSN) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programs, which have only graduate faculty.


Research and Service Activities

Faculty are expected to serve on committees and conduct research. The amount of research activities is based on the department. For instance, the Fine Arts program is identified as a service unit where faculty are expected to engage in more performance activities than in empirical research. The math area focuses primarily on teaching, whereas, some programs have been designated as teaching and research units at the university. The teaching and research programs that have been identified are biology, chemistry and physics, biotechnology, and applied sciences.

For those teaching and research units, course load adjustments have been made to allow appropriate time for research. For instance, two biology professors and one physics professor received 25% release time to allow for research activities. As evidence, in the schedule that is attached. Educational units such as agriculture and biotechnology have research as a primary function of the unit.

 

Definition of Part-time Faculty

Part-time faculty are those faculty members whose primary appointment is within an instructional department, but whose teaching, research and/or services activities are less than that designated by the university for full-time faculty.

 

Distribution and Definition of Faculty by Rank

Table 1 describes the number of faculty by rank at ASU. There are 128 full time faculty members at the rank of professor, associate professor, and assistant professor. Additionally there are 39 full-time instructors and five full-time visiting faculty. There were 59 part-time adjunct faculty who were hired to meet specific enrollment demands.

 

Table 1: Distribution and Definition of Faculty by Rank 2015-2016

Title

No. at Rank

 

Full-time/

Part-time

Description (Faculty Handbook)

Professor

40

Full-time

This position is the highest academic rank at Alcorn State University. Ordinarily, it requires fifteen years of teaching, research and service, ten years of which must be at the college level with a minimum of six years at the associate professor rank.

Associate Professor

30

Full-time

This requires the terminal degree and service as an assistant professor for at least five years at Alcorn State University or equivalent acceptable service elsewhere, with a minimum of nine years of teaching, service and/or productive research experience, five of which must have been at the college level.

Assistant Professor

58

Full-time

The appropriate terminal degree is required for this rank, but an assistant professorship may be awarded in the absence of the degree to individuals who have made significant teaching, research or service contributions and who have shown evidence of academic potential. Appointments to the rank of assistant professor normally will require that the person will have served in the rank of instructor for at least four years.

Instructor

39

Full-time

Employment as an instructor calls for the master’s degree in the subject field or a master’s degree and 18 graduate semester hours in the subject field.

Visiting Faculty

5

Full-time

This is non-tenure track appointment that operates for a specific time with no commitment beyond the yearly contract.

Adjunct Faculty

59

Part-time

This is an appointment that is temporary and irregular within an instructional department.

Source: ASU Faculty Handbook p. 12-14 and Office of Institutional Research
 

 

Table 2 describes ASUs faculty by rank and school across the five-degree granting schools at ASU. There are a total of 172 full-time faculty members and instructors to ensure the quality and integrity of all programs that are offered.
 

Table 2: Distribution of Faculty by Rank and School (Full & Part Time)
2015-2016
 

Rank/School

School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS)

School of Arts & Sciences

School of Business

School of Education and Psychology

School of Nursing

Alcorn State University Total

Professor

11

20

3

2

4

40

Associate Professor

6

10

3

8

2

30

Assistant Professor

16

24

3

6

10

58

Instructor

7

25

2

5

0

39

Visiting Faculty

3

2

5

Adjunct Faculty

13

16

2

26

2

59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

53

95

13

50

20

231

 

The faculty by rank table  provides the disaggregated number of full time faculty by degree programs.  This data demonstrates that ASU relies upon a strong cohort of full-time faculty to ensure the quality and integrity of its academic programs; the teaching, advising, service, and committee work is carried out by a group comprised of 75% full time faculty.  In fact, the majority of the academic programs offered had 67% or above full-time faculty.  A few exceptions included the following units, which relied more heavily on part-time faculty because of unforeseen resignations of full-time faculty, leave, and/or the need to identify experts in the field. 

The Department of Advanced Technologies in the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS) had to utilized part-time faculty who had expertise in teaching radiation technology and special programming courses; their professional experiences, technical skills, and knowledge of the industry added to the students' academic learning experiences. 

An administrator in the Department of Human Sciences School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS) also serves as part-time faculty; in this position, the individual has normal teaching responsibility and is available for student advising, and service on departmental and institutional committees.  

The Department of Social Work in the School of Arts and Sciences had one associate professor who was on leave; therefore, the university had qualified, credentialed social workers who taught the courses during the leave period.

The Department of Education and Psychology in the School of Education and Psychology had two faculty members to resign prior to the fall semester.  To addresses gaps such as this, the department maintains a pool of qualified part-time faculty that consist of superintendents and lead elementary school teachers from the surrounding districts who are able to teach and serve on special projects and thesis committees.

The Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in the School of Education and Psychology had a faculty member to resign before the beginning of the fall semester. There were qualified adjunct faculty who taught the classes for the academic year.  

In the five departments that were below the 67% threshold, academic quality and integrity was not diminished because capable, qualified part-time faculty were utilized.

Credit Hour Production

The number of full-time faculty is sufficient both to support the university’s mission and to ensure the quality of academic programs. This is evidenced by eighty-two (82%) percent of student credit hours are taught by full-time faculty. The Fall 2015 Credit Hour (CH) Production table is disaggregated by departments to demonstrate the number of faculty credit production hours by full-time and part-time faculty.

 

CH Production, Full-time and Part-time
Fall 2015

 

School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS)
 

School of Arts & Sciences

School of Business

School of Education and Psychology

School of Nursing

Alcorn State University Total

# of CH FT

3,957

22,882

2,332

4,473

1,426

35,070

% of CH FT

73%

88%

93%

61%

97%

82%

# CH PT

1,440

2,980

180

2,863

50

7,513

% CH PT

27%

12%

7%

39%

3%

18%

Total CH

5,397

25,862

2,512

7,336

1,476

42,583

 

The Spring 2016 Credit Hour Production table is disaggregated by departments to demonstrate the number of faculty credit production hours. The number of full-time faculty is sufficient both to support the university’s mission and to ensure the quality of academic programs. This is evidenced by eighty (80%) percent of student credit hours were taught by full-time faculty, as demonstrated in the table below.

CH Production, Full-time and Part-time
Spring 2016

 

School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS)
 

School of Arts & Sciences

School of Business

School of Education and Psychology

School of Nursing

Alcorn State University Total

# of CH FT

3,977

20,087

2,461

4,009

991

31,525

% of CH FT

70%

90%

84%

54%

83%

80%

# CH PT

1,728

2,257

483

3,385

204

8,057

% CH PT

30%

10%

16%

46%

17%

20%

Total CH

5,705

22,344

2,944

7,394

1,195

39,582

 

All departments at ASU have greater than sixty (60%) percent of student credit hours taught by full-time faculty with the exception of the Department of Education and Psychology and Human Sciences. For various reasons, these programs had to rely on part-time faculty to provide instruction. But, this did not affect the quality and sufficiency of faculty for the institution.

For instance, the Department of Education and Psychology had two faculty members resign before the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. In the fall 2015 semester, 41% of student credit hours, and 50% of student credit hours in the spring 2016 spring semester were taught by part-time faculty. However, there was a qualified pool of adjuncts available to teach classes that were affected by these sudden resignations. Additionally, these adjuncts held the necessary credential to be approved through the graduate school as affiliated faculty to serve on special projects and thesis committees as needed.

The Department of Human Sciences in the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS) has one faculty member who also serves as a university administrator and recently retired faculty with teaching and advising experience on part-time basis in addition to the five full-time faculty members.

Also, the student credit production hour tables reflect a change in full-time faculty credit production hours for the MBA program from fall to spring. There were two gaming and hospitality courses that were added during the spring, which required the addition of two part-time faculty members who had expertise in these specialized areas.

The nursing program employed a full-time faculty member who taught didactic and clinical courses for the fall 2015 semester, but transitioned to part-time status for the spring 2016 semester teaching didactic only. This change in the nursing program did not affect quality because the faculty member continued providing instruction and advising in psychology of nursing, which was her area of expertise. The other two faculty members were able to provide instruction for the ten clinical students for the spring semester.

Student to Faculty Ratio

Seventy-five (75%) percent of the faculty at ASU are full-time faculty. Although the national student-faculty ratios include 59/3 part-time faculty in the calculation, it does provide a means of benchmarking with other institutions with regard to total faculty resources. Student to faculty ratios are an appropriate assessment as they support the integral part of the university’s mission relating to “intellectual development”. The student to faculty ratio for ASU was 17:1, using the standard Integrated Postsecondary Education Data (IPEDS) formula.

Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Student Ratio Comparisons

The table below provides a summary of the student faculty ratios among the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning with an enrollment of less than 10,000 students. The student to faculty ratio was marginally higher than other state institutions for the 2015 fall term; the student to faculty ratio has remained consistent since 2011 for ASU.

Institution

Total Enrollment (UG Enrollment)

Student to Faculty Ratio

Alcorn State University

3,518 (2,911)

17:1

Delta State University

3,454 (2,653)

14:1

Jackson State University

9,802 (7,475)

18:1

Mississippi University for Women

2,673 (2,470)

14:1

Mississippi Valley State University

2,309 (1,948)

16:1

 

Alcorn State University Student to Faculty Ratio (2011-2015)

Term

Student to Faculty Ratio

Fall 2015

17:1

Fall 2014

16:1

Fall 2013

17:1

Fall 2012

18:1

Fall 2011

19:1

 

Faculty data were analyzed at the department level rather than the program level since faculty budget lines are at the department level. All full-time department faculty are responsible for all academic programs offered through the department regardless of delivery method or geographic location.

The courses taught at the Natchez site are related to two areas: the MBA program (synchronous) and the School of Nursing, both of which teach 100% of their program hours in Natchez.

No programs teach a significant portion of their program credit hours at the Vicksburg Expansion Center. Courses are only offered in Vicksburg based on market demand and faculty availability. These courses are taught by both full-time and part-time faculty members and their credit hour production are represented in the tables. There were six night courses offered at the Vicksburg Expansion Center that served 89 students for the fall 2015 semester. No classes were offered at the Vicksburg Expansion Center spring 2016.