The professional arts education programs at Mason Gross School of the Arts (MGSA) rely on the expertise and talents of their tenured and tenure-track faculty. These faculty members are highly accomplished creative artists. It is their achievements in the creative area that provide the perspective and expertise students need as developing artists, and that enable programs to attract the most talented students. It is also their creative activities that earn them tenure. The criteria for reappointment and promotion of the tenured and tenure-track faculty at MGSA are teaching, scholarship and/or artistic accomplishment, and service.
Rationale for Creating a Professional Practice Track in MGSA:
The professional arts programs at MGSA also rely on the services and expertise of faculty who teach very specific technical skills that are also necessary in the training of artists. Examples include a costume construction teacher in Theater and an ear-training/fundamentals teacher in Music, both of whom possess superior, but narrow skills. For a costume designer to excel creatively, he or she must first understand the mechanics of actually sewing and constructing a costume. Similarly, for a musician to benefit from instruction on a specific instrument, he or she must first be able to hear the music precisely and clearly. While the faculty who teach these skills are essential to the education of artists, the limited nature of their expertise means that they do not carry out either the research or creative activity that would merit tenure at Rutgers. MGSA depends on these faculty to instruct students in the applications, crafts, and technologies that support their relative fields and that enable aspiring artists to platform into the more creative areas.
At present, assistant instructors and faculty in specialized areas who have been denied tenure or who have taken themselves off the tenure-track to assume staff titles fill such a role at MGSA, and the results are less than ideal. Instructors are limited to annual appointments not to exceed a total of four years, regardless of the instructors’ quality or the school’s need. This does not allow sufficient recognition of the faculty members’ contributions, nor does it allow the career growth, or provide sufficient salary increases to retain the quality professionals that students require. The use of staff titles does not recognize the pedagogical contributions of these individuals nor does it permit these individuals to participate in faculty governance. As a result, MGSA has had difficulty in the recruitment and retention of individuals in key specialized positions.
The professional arts education programs at MGSA would be enhanced by the ability to attract and retain the highest quality professionals, particularly in highly specialized areas. Professional Practice faculty in MGSA would supplement and support the efforts of the tenured and tenure-track faculty.
Expectations for Professional Practice Faculty:
Appointments of Professional Practice faculty will be utilized only for specialized positions where the faculty member is unable to meet the standard research/creative achievements due to the narrow focus of their specialty rather than a lack of talent or ambition. Positions utilizing this title would be recommended to the dean by the faculty and chair of each department after consultation with the department’s Executive Committee. The dean will only approve positions that are not otherwise capable of being filled by tenure-track faculty. Professional Practice faculty will be judged based on teaching, professional practice, and service, rather than scholarship and/or artistic accomplishment.
Details of Professional Practice Appointments:
Term of appointment: Appointments of Professional Practice
faculty will normally be made for periods of three years and are renewable.
Appointments and renewals will be made by the dean based on the recommendations
of the tenured faculty of each department. A Professional Practice
faculty member is not precluded from applying for or being offered a tenure-track
position, but no preference is accorded in the selection process for other
Criteria for Appointment and Reappointment: As noted above, Professional Practice faculty will be evaluated on teaching, professional practice, and service. Reappointment will be based on satisfactory performance in each of these areas, as well as a continuing need for the position, and approval by the dean. Professional Practice faculty may be hired, reappointed, or promoted to the titles of Assistant Professor Professional Practice, Associate Professor Professional Practice, or Professor Professional Practice. As Professor II emphasizes traditional forms of research and scholarship, there will be no Professor II Professional Practice.
Evaluation of Professional Practice faculty: Evaluation shall take place in the third and final year of each three-year contract. Chairs should also meet with each Professional Practice faculty member annually.
Voting Rights: Professional Practice faculty may participate and vote on all issues at faculty meetings with the exception of appointment, promotion and tenure of tenure-track faculty and voting on his/her own appointment.
Practices at Peer Institutions:
Institutions with professional and applied programs require flexibility
to adequately accommodate the specialized teaching faculty required in
While the titles used, and the application of those titles, varies among the institutions surveyed, all had a means of accommodating non-traditional teaching faculty. Amongst these are Columbia University, New York University, University of Washington, University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University, Yale University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music, University of California – Irvine, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas – Austin, and Carnegie Mellon/College of Fine Arts. All of these institutions have devised a means of providing technical/applied faculty with long-term contracts and promotion paths.
Benefits to School and Students; Conclusion:
Tenured and tenure-track faculty alone cannot provide the specific technical
skills that are necessary in the training of artists. The use of
assistant instructors and staff titles to provide specific technical skills
has not proven to be satisfactory, in the sense that such appointments
do not provide continuity or stability of staffing, preventing MGSA from
hiring and retaining faculty in critical technical areas. In order
to supplement and support the efforts of the tenured and tenure-track faculty,
an attractive and stable practitioner track should be developed.
The combination of the traditional tenured and tenure-track faculty and
the Professional Practice faculty will ensure that Mason Gross students
receive the best professional training in their fields.