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Case 14. Part-time Employees


Professor Molly Rosell, Chair of a mid-sized department, has been notified by her Dean that the school is under financial pressure and that as a result, the Sociology Department will be downsized.  Scott Katz, an untenured faculty member in his fourth year, has been evaluated by the faculty in the past as an excellent classroom teacher whose research productivity is not up to expected levels. In this university, tenure track faculty are hired on an annual basis until they are considered for tenure in their sixth year. The Dean suggests strongly that Scott Katz be terminated because of his slow research progress. The Dean offers Chair Rosell temporary allocations for instructors - funded by the course - in order to lower costs but maintain (or even increase) the student credit hours for the department. 


  1. What are the ethical obligations of Chair Rosell to untenured faculty members like Scott Katz during downsizing actions? What steps should the Chair take to ensure that fair employment and termination procedures are in place?
  2. Does downsizing threaten Chair Rosell's responsibility to provide a high quality teaching program to students? What are the ethical responsibilities of the Chair to ensure that students have access to courses needed for their undergraduate requirements?
  3. Do the Chair and other faculty members have an ethical obligation to maintain a high proportion of tenure track positions in the department?
  4. What ethical complications arise if Dr. Katz applied for one of the temporary teaching positions?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.