Future of faculty contracts under discussion by board

Illustration by Jessica Martinez/The Et Cetera

Illustration by Jessica Martinez/The Et Cetera

HARRIET RAMOS, Editor in Chief

The Dallas College Board of Trustees is talking about eliminating the three-year rolling contract for faculty and replacing it with a merit-based, three-year contract.

At the Oct. 5 board meeting, Provost Shawnda Floyd said a merit-based, three-year contract is more practical for the new structure of Dallas College and will make it more competitive with other institutions.

“A three-year contract would align our practices with colleges that offer multi-year contracts and opportunities,” Floyd said. “But it also gives us opportunity to compete in that space where we’re moving into the baccalaureate arena.”

Dallas College currently uses a three-year rolling contract — the practice of giving faculty a one-year contract for the first three consecutive years of their employment. From then on the contract annually renews by one year, essentially giving the faculty a perpetual contract that cannot be terminated without a due process hearing, retirement or death.

If the board votes to eliminate the rolling contract, it will be replaced with a regular three-year contract that will be renewed on the basis of an evaluation tool that has not been finalized yet.

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The board did not say when they will vote on this issue.  As of the end of August, there were 737 faculty on a three-year rolling contract, according to information shared at the meeting.

Tricia Horatio, associate general counsel for Dallas College, said among area institutions, the rolling contract is unique to Dallas College. Collin College uses a multi-year contract after three consecutive, one-year contracts, and Tarrant County College offers tenure on terms unique to that institution.

Floyd said a merit-based contract would have a positive impact on faculty morale.

“This is a great way to acknowledge and also retain high-performing faculty who exceed our expectations routinely,” Floyd said.

Erin Kelley, faculty of literature at Richland, said she is against changing the system. She told the board at the meeting that rolling contracts provide stability for faculty and are vital to student success.

“Good teaching is done when whole, well-supported professors have resources, time and stability to maximize their potential,” Kelley said.

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Texas law requires that faculty receive a written contract but does not regulate the type of contract. According to Dallas College records, the rolling contract has been in place since at least 1987 when the college began keeping records.

In addition to the discussion on contracts, the board also swore in a new trustee for District 1 to fill the vacancy left by the death of J. L. Sonny Williams in July. Gretchen Minyard Williams will finish out her late husband’s term, which expires in 2022.

Williams said it is an honor to take over her husband’s responsibilities, and Chancellor Joe May praised her commitment to the community.

“We are very grateful for you to continue not only his legacy and work, but yours as well,” May said.

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