Daily Egyptian

GPSC to draft resolution opposing the elimination of graduate student instructors of record

Members+of+GPSC+meet+for+the+first+time+this+fall+on+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+5%2C+2017%2C+at+the+Student+Center.+%28Daily+Egyptian+file+photo%29%0A
Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

By Amelia Blakely

At its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Graduate and Professional Student Council members voted to draft a resolution in opposition to Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s decision to eliminate graduate student instructor of record positions.

The meeting also included the first reading of GPSC’s resolution to oppose the chancellor’s plan to eliminate all academic departments.

Sheena Hart, a third-year law student, and Derrick McDowell, a second-year law student, both voiced their support for diplomacy rather than a vote of no confidence in the reorganization.

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“That way we can show an attempt of reaching out, but also to give specific corrections and/or advice that are narrowly tailored to these situations,” McDowell said.

Clay Awsumb, the council’s vice president for graduate student affairs, relayed information about eliminating instructors of records from the chancellor’s Vision 2025 website.

According to the website, graduate students will no longer be able to have “the independent responsibility for creating and delivering courses, including making determinations about which students may enroll in the course, what instructional materials are used and what grade the students will receive.”

Awsumb said graduate students would continue to teach under the mentorship of a faculty member.

Graduate students would lose their ability to create and deliver their own courses, Awsumb said, including making decisions about which students may enroll in the courses, what instructional tools are used and what grades students receive.

Awsumb said he isn’t sure if that would mean teaching assistants could not decide the final grade for the course or each grade given throughout a semester.

Flowers said about 50 percent of graduate teaching assistants are instructors of record.

Dianah McGreehan, the council’s vice president of administrative affairs, said that during a meeting with Associate Provost David Dilalla she asked for the reasoning behind eliminating instructors of record.

“It really was simply the philosophy of one person,” McGreehan said, referring to the chancellor. “There is no empirical data that proves that this was even brought up as a complaint by any students, that it would even help increase enrollment. There is nothing there except an opinion of one man.”

The elimination of instructors of record will become effective in the fall of 2018, Awsumb said.

McGreehan said that most non-tenure track professors have only a master’s degree, while most instructors of record are doctoral candidates.

“I could literally be going into the market one semester later, but would not be able to teach on record here, even though I’m fairly qualified to do so and I have years of experience,” McGreehan said.

Flowers said about 17 percent of instructors of record that will be affected by the decision are in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, while 14 percent of the affected instructors are in the College of Education.

“It’s not just the humanities that’ll feel this one,” Flowers said.

Staff writer Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “GPSC to draft resolution opposing the elimination of graduate student instructors of record”

  1. Bradley Skelcher on November 15th, 2017 2:41 pm

    Good for you.

  2. Michael on November 15th, 2017 4:37 pm

    GAs and TAs,

    Below is Article 7, Section 7.2, Professional Judgement, in your contract:

    “Section 7.2 Professional Judgment. Graduate student employees shall have reasonable latitude to exercise their professional judgment within their area of expertise in deciding how best to accomplish their assignments within the scope of the directions given by the individual’s supervisor as well as fiscal and time constraints. Assistants shall also have the freedom to create syllabi, select course materials and to determine grades in accordance with Board policies unless otherwise standardized by the Employing Unit.”

    This is specific contract language and the Board must adhere to it. If there are existing Board policies that are in conflict with it then the Board must alter those policies to comply with the contract. In other words, the contract language trumps any University other policy by virtue of its standing under Illinois state law. Since the Board chose specifically to include language on grades, course materials, syllabuses, etc., they are required to renegotiate Section 7.2. The union can just say no if they want to keep the language. Obviously, the Chancellor can’t unilaterally take away your rights under 7.2.

    The GPSC should have a say, but its your union, GA United, who is the real player here.

    Good luck, and don’t let yourselves be pushed around.

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