Core Requirement 2.8  

The number of full-time faculty members is adequate to support the mission of the institution and to ensure the quality and integrity of its academic programs. (Faculty)  

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative: 

The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) employs a strong instructional base of full-time and part-time faculty.  Full-time faculty are comprised of tenured, tenure track, and non-tenured members teaching at least 6 hours per semester. Tenured and tenure track full-time faculty carry the academic ranks of professor, associate professor, assistant professor. Non tenured, full time faculty members carry the academic rank of senior instructor or instructor. 

Each candidate for appointment at the rank of instructor is expected to have earned the master’s degree and to offer evidence or promise of competence in teaching.  Many of these faculty are employed in the Schools of Nursing and Education and are highly skilled in their roles as nurses or teachers. An instructor who holds at least a master’s degree and has held a full-time faculty appointment at USC Upstate for a minimum of six years may apply for promotion to Senior Instructor. Part-time, visiting or temporary faculty are not eligible for tenure. 

Conditions for appointment and advancement in rank are presented in the Faculty Manual.  All full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members, unless the terms and conditions of their appointment letters states otherwise, are expected to engage in teaching, scholarship and service.  Duties of full-time instructors in most departments and schools are focused in the areas of teaching and service.  The initial letter of appointment indicates faculty member’s academic rank, tenure or tenure-track status and penultimate year for promotion and tenure.

In fall 2010, over 65% of the 224 full-time faculty at USC Upstate held terminal degrees in their discipline (MLS, MFA, EdD, PhD, DNS, or DNP).  The University is also committed to recruit highly-qualified faculty who reflect the demographic composition of the student population.  While the realities of the academic labor market preclude achieving this goal in the short term, approximately 15% of full-time faculty in 2010 had a racial or ethnic background from a minority group.  The proportion of full-time female faculty was 55%.

In fall 2010, the ratio of full-time faculty to students was 1:16 overall, ensuring quality teaching-learning interactions between faculty and students. The ratio of full-time to part-time faculty has been relatively stable over a three-year period, despite fluctuations in state funding.  The stability of this ratio reflects USC Upstate’s emphasis on the quality and integrity of academic programs. Full-time faculty per major are adequate to support the University’s mission and to ensure the quality and integrity of academic programs.

Separate accreditations are conducted systematically for the professional schools attesting to their excellence and the quality of their faculty. The George Dean Johnson, Jr. School of Business and Economics was last visited for reaffirmation in 2010; the School of Education was reaffirmed in spring 2011; and the Mary Black School of Nursing will receive its reaffirmation team in fall 2011. Several programs within the College of Arts and Sciences are also accredited by discipline specific organizations such as engineering technology management, computer science, and healthcare informatics.

Many full-time faculty teach general education courses, not only to ensure quality of instruction, but also as a means to attract majors in their specific discipline. For the past few years, approximately 50% of all general education courses are taught by full-time faculty.  In general education, full-time to part-time faculty ratios indicate that full-time faculty teach critical introductory courses.

The mission of the University states that “the University’s primary responsibilities are to offer baccalaureate education to the citizens of the Upstate of South Carolina and to offer selected master’s degrees in response to regional demand.” This continues to guide our hiring and evaluation of qualified faculty. To ensure faculty quality, all faculty members undergo a formal annual performance review as specified in the Faculty Manual.  Tenured faculty members also undergo post-tenure review every six years (available for review onsite).

Distance Learning

Distance learning” is defined by USC Upstate as a teaching modality that is independent of time and place and uses technology, such as the Internet or other interactive technology, to engage the learner. USC Upstate operationally defines distance education as courses that are delivered entirely through an off-campus medium using a teaching modality that is independent of time and place and comprised of the most up-to-date pedagogical strategies and innovative technologies to engage the learner. 

Faculty who express an interest in offering courses in an alternative delivery format are offered the opportunity to learn the strategies for successful implementation of courses to ensure quality of the distance learning course are equal to the quality of courses offered in class.  A Center for Teaching Excellence was established in fall 2010, with the addition of a position devoted to Distance Education in the summer of 2011.  The Director of Learning Technologies is responsible for offering ongoing educational professional development. A Technology Training Specialist, a part-time faculty member, assists in delivery of the offerings. Courses are offered to assist students and faculty in the use of distance learning course material to include the use of Blackboard and other electronic media and communication tools.  Beginning in fall, 2011, all new faculty are required to obtain a certificate in online teaching prior to teaching an distance education course offering.  The certificate course is offered as a joint initiative through the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Distance Education. 

USC Upstate follows the “Principles of Accreditation” in all the distance education offerings. 
The RN to BSN program and other distance education courses within specific programs are consistent with the mission of the institution. As with all curricular offerings, faculty assume primary responsibility for and exercise oversight of distance education to ensure rigor and quality of the course offerings. 

Faculty workload is calculated on credit hour offerings regardless of teaching modality, and faculty do not receive extra compensation for teaching courses using educational technology.  As with all course development, faculty retain ownership of all materials they develop. Faculty are apprised of copyright issues related to teaching during orientation for new faculty members as well as periodic workshops held by librarians.

Adequate numbers of full-time faculty teach those courses. All faculty are evaluated using Student Opinion Polls (SOP) for each course in every semester.  Students enrolled in distance education courses evaluate faculty using online SOPs (available for review onsite). 

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