Dear Case Western Reserve University Faculty:
Through every stage of the development and approval of the UGER, faculty pre-major advising has been a central part of our goal to strengthen connections with our students. Ensuring that all undergraduates can connect with a professor when they first arrive on campus is an important way to build trust and a sense of belonging among our students. This helps them to realize that they are part of an institution that cares about them and their personal growth.
Under SAGES, discretionary accounts were allocated to faculty who served as pre-major advisors. Importantly, these accounts were not provided as salary supplements, but rather, as discretionary accounts that could be used (with no tax liability) to support faculty activities related to teaching and research. Faculty typically used these funds for equipment, books or travel to professional meetings.
You may also be aware that the Faculty Handbook states the following about faculty remuneration: “Service in the teaching programs, research programs, and administrative activities of the University is regarded as within the faculty member's obligation and is compensated for by regular salary.”
Related to this, the faculty have voted, through approval of the new UGER, to perform pre-major advising as part of their regular duties. Therefore, compensation for pre-major advising should be considered as part of their regular salaries. Thus, it is not appropriate to create a new salary stream for compensating this specific form of teaching, as there are many important activities that faculty perform (including during Discover Week and beyond) and these are compensated through regular salary.
Our current plans include holding pre-major advising trainings prior to Discover Week, which is outside of the contract period for many faculty. Because of this, I have decided to compensate all faculty for their time who receive this training with a salary supplement (taxable) of $600. In addition, I will allocate to each school/college dean an amount equivalent to $100 per pre-major advisee served by their school/college. The deans will have discretion to use these additional funds to support pre-major advising, which may involve faculty discretionary accounts similar to the SAGES model, and/or larger programs and events made possible by pooling these funds.
I will add that I am greatly appreciative of the time that faculty will devote to training under our new UGER system and the time they will commit to their advisees. This work is essential for our students’ well-being at a time when they may be most unsure of themselves as they start a new phase of their life, and as we work to advance our new UGER that will serve them well.
From my view as interim provost, I feel that just as faculty are provided academic freedom to teach in the way that best serves their students in the classroom, I feel this extends to the decision on how faculty best decide to advise their students. Therefore, for the time being, I will allow for the option of both group and individual meetings to be determined at the faculty member’s discretion for Discover Week. However, I wish to remind faculty that the UGER voting document as it stands now explicitly called for individual meetings, and therefore some of the interactions between pre-major advisors and their students should occur as individual meetings this semester.
These two issues have been long-standing matters, and I have strived for transparency and fairness in these decisions that impact multiple areas of the university. Furthermore, I will be asking the Faculty Senate (and FSCUE) to assess how pre-major advising worked well this fall and how we may improve for next year.
I end by extending my appreciation for all that you do as faculty–whether it be in serving our students, our research mission, and/or our campus and local community. Your work is seen and valued and I am most humbled to work in this community alongside of you.
Joy K. Ward
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President