Faculty role requirements change resulting in reassignment at WSC

While announced in March 2016, the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) new set of requirements still surprised many on Wayne State’s campus.

The HLC, Wayne State College’s regional accreditor, made changes to the faculty role guidelines and announced those changes in March of 2016, but granted a deadline extension until September 2017 to allow institutions to make the necessary changes to be in compliance with the new guidelines.

Those guidelines, aimed at putting the most qualified instructor into each role, were revamped and concentrated. Specifically, instructors are now required to possess credentials that are directly related to their teaching field.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Elliot said the guidelines were initially to be instituted in 2015 but there were some changes adopted. Wayne State went ahead with a transcript review at that point for its faculty.

There are some exceptions being made by the HLC, where tested and equivalent experience are being taken into account. The HLC defines equivalent experience as a minimum of 18 graduate hours in the field of study they wish to teach.

The requirements changed very little at Wayne State, Elliot said. 

“It was such minimal impact to our campus,” said Elliot. “Our campus just had to shift some to be more in line with what is now required. The real work that had to be done was on the dual credit side.”

Unfortunately for some, the requirements don’t take into consideration number of years teaching on subjects, like in the case of Dr. Katherine Butler who possess her degrees in English but also teaches philosophy courses.

In an interview with the Wayne Stater, Butler said, “My graduate courses contained philosophical material, but I can’t reach out to my old professors for confirmation because they are all dead.”

That means though she has been teaching English and philosophy at WSC for over 50 years, her time teaching philosophy has come to an end.

While there is not a philosophy department nor even a philosophy major at Wayne State, according to Elliot, there is a minor and philosophy courses are utilized for general education requirements, so there will still be instructors teaching the classes.

With faculty such as Dr. Catherine Rudin retiring this year, it also brings up some very important questions regarding hiring.

Rudin teaches linguistic courses at Wayne State, but those are required courses for an English degree, which begs the question — does Wayne State hire a linguist or an English professor?

“When we schedule courses, it’s about the content of that course, so that is what would determine who would lead the course,” Elliot said. “We are being very congnicient of the language we use when we advertise for those positions.

Elliot went on to explain that the specific language used depends on the specific requirements of that position. What is required may be an industry profession or it may be credentials-based. His example was that of the expansion of the technical and manufacturing opportunities at Wayne State with the construction of the Center for Applied Technolgoy (CAT) building.

In those majors especially, a seasoned industry professional does the best teaching, not to mention there isn’t any like a PhD in welding. 

And that’s why there is a search committee and will continue to be search committees for every single new hire on campus.

The changes were brought about with good reason and likely good intention, though some are frustrated that the time they spent teaching a certain subject doesn't count as credit or professional experience.

Needing time to acclimate and adjust is  expected, Elliot said, but he reiterated that WSC was lucky to have very minimal changes brought about by these requirements, stressing that quality education is paramount at Wayne State.

The Wayne Herald

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