Less research, more teaching track offered

Cameron Koch

Faculty looking to join WKU now have another option, thanks to Board of Regents approval of the pedagogical faculty track Friday.

The pedagogical faculty track allows professors joining the university to focus more on instruction and teaching than on scholarly research.

Those hired under the new track will be expected to have a higher teaching load than those faculty members who do research and will not have expectations of completing research.

President Gary Ransdell said he believes the new option for faculty is a step in the right direction for the university.

“It’s a remarkable step forward, and it’s not a common step forward on most college campuses,” Ransdell said. “It’s a progressive step, it’s an important step, and it allows faculty to focus on that which they choose to do best and in areas which they excel and be evaluated accordingly.”

The pedagogical track will join existing faculty tracks such as clinical and research tracks.

Last year, the board approved a research track to serve faculty whose primary interest was in research, though they were not tenure-eligible and were contracts that usually lasted for under a year.

Unlike the research track, pedagogical faculty positions will be tenure eligible.

Patricia Minter, associate professor and faculty regent, stressed that the creation of pedagogical positions would come from “the bottom up,” rather than “the top down,” as in the administration would not set a specific number of pedagogical faculty that each department must have.

Tenured faculty will instead vote on the creation of pedagogical positions in their respective departments.

Current faculty members cannot change tracks, though if a pedagogical position is created, existing faculty members can still apply for it.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said that if nontraditional faculty tracks such as the research and pedagogical tracks start to reach higher numbers that the situation would be evaluated at that time.

However, Ransdell said the university didn’t expect the new positions to grow in size quickly.

“It will likely be some time before it reaches that point,” Ransdell said. “We don’t expect it to be that aggressive.”