At our college, it is sometimes difficult to find faculty with the minimum qualifications for our discipline. Occasionally, we have hired someone prior to the completion of all requirements for the master's degree, but the individual assured us that the orals, thesis, or qualifying exam would be completed in the summer. What happens if the individual never actually earned a master's degree and now has been teaching for several years? Will we be audited and lose apportionment for classes taught by this person?
Still Waiting on Final Transcripts
Dear S. W. O. F. T.,
For full-time faculty (and most part-time faculty), Human Resources Department and/or senate hiring procedures indicate that a newly hired individual must provide copies of official transcripts prior to the beginning of the academic year. This requirement is communicated in good faith to the new hire, and all parties expect the degree to be conferred prior to classes beginning. It is the responsibility of the Human Resource Department to follow up and ensure that all required paperwork has been received by the college/district. If the degree is being completed just before the beginning of the semester, many districts will allow unofficial transcripts or other verification methods with the proviso that official transcripts are provided in a timely manner-just relying on the say-so of the candidate should not be considered as verifying the degree.
In considering the current practices at your college or district, give the folks in the Human Resource Department a call to see how a tracking process may be created to follow up with faculty who will earn degrees over the summer or another time after they are officially assigned work at your college to ensure that the required degrees have been completed by the first day of the faculty assignment. The bargaining unit or contract may provide additional information regarding hiring and assignment that will be useful to the senate as it considers an improved process.
In addition, you can also take a look at utilizing the Faculty Internship Program. This allows a college to hire someone who is within one year of meeting the minimum qualifications for the discipline. Interns in this program are considered to be temporary faculty and serve in this category for up to two years. They serve under the direct supervision of, and are evaluated by, a mentor who is qualified in the discipline. For more details, check 53500 through 53502 of Title 5.
The bottom line is that your senate and governing board must jointly agree to all faculty hiring processes, including the process for determining equivalencies (Education Code 87360). Timelines for completion of degrees seem like an important element to be included in your processes, especially the role of your Human Resources Department. Any faculty hired by a documented process that has been jointly agreed upon by your academic senate and board are legitimate hires, and no one-not the state Chancellor's Office, the accrediting commission or other agency, can claim that your decisions are invalid thereby jeopardizing apportionment or the units earned by students taught by those faculty. In the case of the person where the process was not followed, an audit and consequent lost of apportion are possible.
Signed Executive Committee