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Chapter 12: Faculty

Faculty Contract Employment

In: Self-Study Report, January 1974. Click here to download a pdf of the entire Self-Study Report.

At the time the decision was made to appoint faculty under renewable contracts, the advantages and disadvantages were carefully weighed. The major advantages were seen to be:

  • The periodic evaluation of faculty effectiveness in the reappointment process helped insure sustained quality among faculty.
  • Career development would be encouraged among faculty who would be asked to periodically submit new proposals for their next phase of teaching and scholarship.
  • The College could continue to sustain experimental efforts by having an opportunity to discontinue faculty no longer committed to the major mission of the College.
  • The College was encouraged to develop new career opportunities for departing faculty.

The major disadvantages warned about were:

  • Peer evaluation across all ranks (i.e., the absence of a tenured senior faculty) would lead to a lowering of standards for reappointment below those maintained for tenure appointments.
  • Evaluation procedures having high consensual endorsement would be very difficult to achieve.

At this writing the recent revision of procedures for reappointment strongly suggests that both the advantages and disadvantages have appeared. The chief deficiency to date has been the slowness with which the College has developed a career opportunities service for young faculty. The creation of a new faculty, program, and physical campus is an exhausting, demanding challenge. It is not surprising that the initial round of reappointments shows a very low rate of non-renewal. However, consensus has been slow to form about the evaluation procedures, and a School may sometimes vote reappointment for a faculty member who does not receive subsequent endorsement from the College Committee on Reappointments, leaving the President to resolve the conflict. A majority of the faculty seems to favor a strong effort to establish a more effective evaluation system within the present framework. A minority favor a shift to a tenure system. (p.78-79)

Employment by Faculty Contract

by Robert C. Birney. October 1975. Click here to download a pdf of the entire report.


In 1968, two years after Hampshire College's incorporation, a core administration of seven persons had been formed. During that year much important planning took place. In the course of one meeting with the Board of Trustees the subject of faculty tenure arose, and the Deans of Hampshire's Schools suggested that the College should experiment with the appointment of faculty on a renewable contract basis with separate provisions for protection of academic freedom, rather than adopt in full the American Association of University Professors 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Debate followed, and the Board of Trustees, which included the Presidents of Hampshire's four sponsoring institutions, responded positively to the suggestion...

Interestingly enough, in the consultations with Hampshire College officials, there was not expressed by the AAUP representative any major concern about the ability of the institution to guarantee academic freedom. The position taken was that the preservation of academic freedom is a matter of tradition and culture, strongly upheld and practiced by the institutions in the Five College area, and that there was every reason to believe that Hampshire College could combine adequate protection for academic freedom with a faculty contract system.

The chief feature of the contract system proposed for Hampshire College was the concept of renewal by proposal. The College required faculty condidates to submit detailed proposals describing what they intended to teach and accomplish during the term of their initial contract. It was hoped that each contract review period would generate similar proposals which would provide for periodic review of accomplishment and restatement of objectives, thus maintaining an atmosphere of experimentation and innovation. Many Hampshire faculty formerly had had experience with a tenure system and were dismayed by the tendency of many tenured teachers to drift away from their colleagues and students with little or no incentive for counteraction available; thus this notion of review, restatement and renewal seemed very appealing.

A second compelling dimension to the contract system was its potential stimulation of faculty career development. It might well provide an incentive to faculty looking forward to renewal to be more explicit in planning their professional development than if they were securely employed without term.

Finally, an intimate connection was posited between the maintenance of Hampshire College as an experimenting institution and the contract system. The history of new and innovative institutions strongly suggested that, with the settling in of permanent faculty, the spirit of innovation is often lost. it was especially appealing, therefore, to test the contract system as a device for maintaining vitality and a spirit of renewal among the faculty. (p.1-2)


All social systems have unexpected consequences and outcomes, some of which are clearly negative. Just as it is possible to detail the aspirations of the system, so it is important to detail the limitations of the system to date.

First, the existence of an open file, whith input from an unlimited number and range of sources, can produce a genuine fear and an inhibition against participation in the system. Thus some people may refuse to write anything to anyone's file and may be quite cautious in their voting behavior out of a sense that they will in time be subject to possible retaliation should they provide negative comment on someone who may be reappointed and later sit in judgment on them. This may produce a situation where a file is predominantly composed of praise, however faint, while the vote shows negative judgments. The School Dean may be well aware of werious reservations held about a candidate, but search in vain for an expression of them in the file material itself.

Second, the broad consensus which surrounds the standards of judgment has been viewed by some condidates as highly irrelevant to good teaching and good scholarship. The democratization of standards is regarded by some as a coercion imposing on them an obligation for social participation and political cultivation which is wholly unrelated to their major task as teachers. Such standards or expectations may be interpreted in various lights, and polarization of politically or socially active groups may result.

Third, some persons, having a high degree of respect for professionalism, have been reluctant to pass a judgment on the scholarly qualifications of an individual in a discipline in which they have no competence and have relied too heavily on the judgment of the candidate's fellow disciplinarians. Thus a candidate's immediate disciplinary colleagues may unduly influence the voting. In those cases with an honest difference of opinion among the members of a discipline, we have seen the glimmer of a genuine and insidious threat of violation of academic freedom of the worst kind: a candidate finding his/her teaching career threatened because of respectable intellectual differences of opinion with disciplinary colleagues. (p.5-6)


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