November 5, 2012

Adjuncts Build Strength in Numbers
The new majority generates a shift in academic culture

Sarah Bones for The Chronicle "We do a lot of teaching," says Caroline Meline, an adjunct instructor of philosophy at Saint Joseph's U. "That's just the way it is in our department." She is among adjuncts pressing for higher pay and a voice in governance on a campus where two-thirds of the faculty are off the tenure track. Ten years ago, less than half of the faculty were off the tenure track. By Audrey Williams June Philadelphia Caroline W. Meline stood at the front of her classroom one day last month and began reading from a red paperback, Karl Marx: Selected Writings. A few sentences in, she paused and closed her eyes. "I just have to catch my breath," she told her students. She was 15 minutes into a philosophy class at Saint Joseph's University. "This is my third class of the day. I need to regroup my energy."

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D. In the philosophy department. At the private. in philosophy from Temple University in 2004 and has taught at Saint Joseph's for eight and a half years. where two-thirds of the faculty is now off the tenure track." says Ms. up from 63 percent. Not Sustainable When professors in positions that offer no chance of earning tenure begin to stack the faculty. Across the nation. Meline to take the brief respite is. better pay and working . They push for roles in governance. The University of San Francisco saw the proportion of its nontenure-track faculty rise to 67 percent from 57 percent. the number of nontenure-track faculty members has more than doubled over the past decade. "That's just the way it is in our department. campus dynamics start to change. where nearly 64 percent of the instructional faculty isn't eligible for tenure. At places like Eastern Washington University and Oakland University. less than half of the university's faculty was off the tenure track. the cost of being an adjunct here.Enlarge Image The breakneck pace that drove Ms. Meline. where Ms. Community colleges have traditionally relied heavily on nontenure-track faculty. adjunct faculty are teaching close to half of the 82 class sections offered this semester. At Kean University. Change has occurred more rapidly on some campuses. Meline is one of more than 400 part-time faculty members. a proportion that has crept higher over the past decade. "We do a lot of teaching. nontenure-track professors now account for 78 percent of the faculty." That's the way it is in many departments at Saint Joseph's. About 70 percent of the instructional faculty at all colleges is off the tenure track. who earned her Ph. Now nontenure-track faculty make up roughly 55 percent at both institutions. particularly at regionally oriented public institutions and mid-tier private universities like Saint Joseph's. Jesuit institution. part-time faculty and professors who worked full time but off the tenure track made up less than half of the instructional faculty a decade ago. But the trend has been increasingly evident at four-year institutions. colleges have undergone similar shifts in whom they employ to teach students. for her. Growing numbers of adjuncts make themselves more visible. according to the most recent federal data available. with 85 percent of their instructors in 2010 not eligible for tenure. whether as part-timers or full-timers. Ten years ago.

a shrinking number of tenured and tenuretrack faculty members are left to advise graduate students—a task that typically does not fall to adjuncts. who coordinates the French program. In French. Many adjuncts don't have office space. all but one of them part time. "If we want to solve the world's problems." says Ms. many of whom are good teachers but aren't supported on the job in the ways that their tenured colleagues are. The shift can also affect students." Elsewhere. there are four tenured professors and eight who work off the tenure track. however competent they may be. "What they're doing is not sustainable. too. their jobs could be in jeopardy. At many institutions with graduate programs. which is striving to be a top research university. If students retaliate by giving them bad evaluations. about three-quarters of the faculty in the foreign languages were tenured or on the tenure track. leaving them with more service work and seats on more committees at the same time that research requirements. She is among those adjuncts pressing for higher pay and a voice in governance at Saint Joseph's." says Ms. much as they have in foreign-language departments nationwide. Studies show that they suffer when they are taught by adjuncts. When she arrived. although now in the minority. in 2000. The changing nature of the professoriate affects tenured and tenure-track faculty. an attitude that limits the ways they might engage students in critical thinking and rigorous discussion. Cummins. "I think the tipping point is now. Many adjuncts are also cautious about what they say in the classroom. Meline. we can't do that with adjunct faculty. she argues. are just keeping body and soul together. Ms.conditions. for some. are still the power brokers. Having more adjuncts doesn't provide the help they need to run their departments. without reversing the trend of adding adjuncts to the payroll at every turn. a professor of world and international studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. is worried about the sustainability of her university's growing use of adjuncts. her discipline. Patricia W. "Virtually everything they want to accomplish with our strategic plan requires tenured and tenure-track faculty members. have also increased." . Cummins. And some adjuncts themselves say their fears about job security can make them reluctant to push students hard academically. and recognition for work well done. Cummins says administrators have big ambitions for Virginia Commonwealth. And they do so at institutions where tenured faculty. Now the percentages have flipped. with one-quarter teaching part time or in nontenuretrack full-time positions. which means they have no place on campus to meet privately with students. but we have a long way to go. who. I definitely think the president is on the right track. But it will be nearly impossible to achieve that goal.

You don't want to count on that forever. Cummins's colleagues to widen the circle of faculty who take part in certain service work. an associate professor in the department of management at Virginia Commonwealth. "They do all kinds of things. he says. and play host to various events for foreign-language students and nearby residents. Cummins. the share of non-tenuretrack faculty at the institution is 70 percent. Ms. Mr. Rao increased tuition by 24 percent and used the new revenue. in 2009." Virginia Commonwealth's full-time. "We need those people to do research and to do a lot of the mentoring of students at all levels. Andrews." he says." the president says." Research and Mentoring Michael Rao. "A lot of them. on their own.Full-time faculty members who are not on the tenure track at Virginia Commonwealth constitute 54 percent of the faculty. He plans to add a total of 560 professors. says Ms." Most part-time faculty in the humanities at Virginia Commonwealth earn about $2.500 per course. The dwindling number of professors with tenure or who are on the tenure track has forced Ms. faculty members on the tenure track. Faculty off the tenure track are usually paid only for their teaching. which a decade ago was the proportion of tenured and tenure-track professors. says he has made clear that he wants to stem the growing use of adjuncts there. says he can understand their fear. in part. "What I saw when I came was a research university that had 33." Mr. nontenure-track faculty and part-time professors are "incredible resources to the university. in comparison to peers. "But these are not the kinds of things you can expect somebody to do if you've asked them to come in and teach a three-hour French class. "I would like to see that change. In fact. are doing a lot of the mentoring of students. "They're not in the position to be raising their voices. Not long after he arrived. Thirty more professors have joined the institution since then. to hire nearly 100 tenured and tenure-track faculty. direct the university's annual Arab Film Festival. they have also stepped up to work on grants with tenured faculty. but many do service work because they're committed to their jobs. Even as part-timers play an integral role in their programs and departments. Cummins says. Robert L. Rao says. Taking part-timers into account. Cummins says. by looking at the proportion of tenured and tenure-track at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. In the foreign-languages department. they often feel that their continued employment as instructors requires maintaining a low profile." Ms." .000 students and way too few. a figure he came up with. several adjunct professors in the School of World Studies who were contacted for this article didn't respond to requests for an interview. Virginia Commonwealth's president.

"No. "We have representation on pretty much everything that doesn't involve the promotion and tenure and periodic performance view of tenured and tenure-track faculty. an associate professor of higher education at the University of Southern California who studies adjuncts. is the way adjuncts are used to teach high-demand courses in some disciplines. Expanding Adjuncts' Role "English departments on a lot of campuses are likely to be leaders for broader changes. and other institutions. There are relationships there. who is an instructor in upper-division composition. "One of the things that is important to students is the ability to get classes. Contingent faculty can serve on an advisory committee of the Faculty Council at Colorado State. says Adrianna Kezar. Rao says. But can you make some progress along those lines? Certainly. Nearly all of them teach four courses a semester. Colorado State's English department has 47 full-time faculty members who aren't on the tenure track.What's likely to remain the same at Virginia Commonwealth." Mr. At Colorado State University at Fort Collins. Why don't you join us in governance?." she says. "Sometimes large numbers of adjuncts can create a negative dynamic. you can't. and they outnumber the tenured and tenure-track faculty by more than a dozen. since they have used nontenure-track faculty for such a long time." Some colleges have made progress in improving the work life of adjuncts. "When you have required courses that everyone has to take. The tenured professors could see this as a threat and instead of saying. such as English composition and introductory courses in biology and math. . the composition committee. "That's correlated with the number of faculty you have to teach them. and the committee that hires faculty who work off the tenure track. they might dig in and actively campaign against them having a voice. Almost 20 years ago." Ms. the number of nontenure-track faculty in English was in the low single digits. Thomas says "there is still plenty of work to do" on the university level when it comes to expanding adjuncts' role in governance. nontenure-track English faculty members have gained representation on the literature committee. but they are not allowed to vote and they can't serve on the council itself. a salaried position that comes with a course release that allows her to lead workshops for other writing instructors and provide them with additional professional-development opportunities. can you front-load those courses with all regular faculty members?" he asks." says Laura Thomas. Adjuncts who work in departments with a long history of using nontenure-track faculty can sometimes see the resulting connections lead to better working conditions and pay —more so than when adjuncts try to use their large numbers as leverage.

whose executive committee includes Ms. Ms. and in order for our units to work effectively." Ms. Meline. Thomas.Sue Doe.230 per course—plus a total of $6. Wachterhauser. That fear bleeds over into the classroom. Ms." Forming a union. however. in 30 parcels of $200 each." but what he did isn't enough. Meline and other adjuncts say. of Saint Joseph's. she earned a Ph. "People are realizing just what a majority we are.000 in grant money." she added. "The provost. is that university really promoting critical thinking?" says Eva-Maria Swidler. Doe says. "Instead of having this sort of underlying mistrust of what the other group is up to. who will now start at $3. to tap if they need financial assistance to go to a conference to present a paper." . Ms. met with the provost. still comprises only about one-third of the adjuncts on the campus. has been extremely accommodating. Meline." Ms. contingent faculty at the university formed an adjunct association. Meline says. Meline. Their lack of job security. and became a tenure-track faculty member in 2007. complaining of low pay and a lack of job security and health benefits. Last year. The association was able to get raises for adjuncts this academic year—highest for new hires. She helped write a report on a universitywide survey of contingent faculty at Colorado State. an assistant professor of English at Colorado State. an Army officer. "If almost 70 percent of the faculty at an expensive private university is watching what they say in the classrooms because they don't want to be controversial in any way. at the university in 2001. mostly as she followed her husband. to the detriment of students. keeps many from being advocates for their own cause. in history eight years ago and now teaches semester by semester at Saint Joseph's. members of the group say. Doe worked as an adjunct for more than 20 years. I think we're at the place where we need to get past that. so far. The findings shed new light on the sometimes-tense dynamics between the different sectors of the faculty. is a possibility. doesn't know how far the good will of administrators can take adjuncts like her. who earned a Ph. "They are looking to fly beneath the radar so they can be renewed next semester.D. around the country. Brice R. is an ally of adjunct faculty like Ms. "Now we're looking to go forward from this platform and negotiate something better. she says. they say." says Ms. "Adjuncts are not going to teach controversial courses.D. to talk about their concerns. we have to be respectful of one another. we all have to realize that we're working side by side. "At the end of the day. The group. The group's membership. After he retired.

the class that she began by reading Karl Marx's writing ended with her students watching part of Modern Times. like Ms. and Freud. Swidler." says Robert K. Swidler. Meline. an evening survey course about Western civilization. called "Hume. Meline is among the most outspoken leaders of the adjunct association. "Philosophy and Evolution. Another course she designed." http://chronicle. with Charlie Chaplin as a worker who tries to make it in the industrialized world. Meline designed herself. isn't worried herself about repercussions. says Mr. She expects her career at St.Ms. Meline. The course she teaches. I'm going to make sure that it happens." will be offered this spring. "is long overdue. Joseph's will end this semester. an unusual opportunity for an adjunct. "It's important that the senate address this issue." A discussion about how to get adjuncts more involved in governance. who goes there once each semester. too. Moore. 'Appreciate the Work' Soon an ad hoc committee of Faculty Senate members at Saint Joseph's will discuss the adjunct association's request to participate in faculty governance on a university level." As for Ms. The course. "I will make as much noise as I possibly can. as she has for the past five years." says Ms. "I had no intentions of organizing anything. She will teach that. "I think that it's important for us to recognize the value of our adjunct colleagues and acknowledge them and appreciate the work that they do for us. a liberal-arts institution in Vermont where students study independently and work with faculty mentors." is a new one that Ms. She'll continue to work half-time at Goddard College. who started her academic career when she was in her early 60s. Darwin. is being phased out under the university's new general-education requirements. but I'm enjoying this thoroughly. an assistant professor of sociology who is president of the senate. She's chosen not to think about whether her insistence that adjunct faculty—the majority—at Saint Joseph's be treated better could harm her career here. who along with Ms." she says. "in whatever time is allotted for me to be cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en . Moore. Marx.


or even wants to do. So everyone's unhappy. Two of the five lowest paid state employee categories are adjunct faculty.Showing 12 comments triumphus 5 hours ago I know many of these adjuncts and they are mostly unappreciated except at the level where all of the money is counted. I saw some fancy new buildings. Now I learn that they--like most of academe--have transformed their tenure-track faculty into exploited adjuncts. Students at our state universities will . parking attendant. The adjunct faculty make more than the laborers and the parking attendants but less than the food workers. When I last visited. they self-selected graduate school). How will that work for the next generation when most of your faculty members are transient adjuncts? 7 people liked this. I feel great loyalty to some individual faculty members. the "bottom five positions by pay with at least 20 employees" are listed. a few of whom are still there. But managing isn't something that the average faculty member is good at (remember. Many TT faculty are now "directors" of something or other that in fact is taught by adjuncts. Welcome to the higher education factory. The other three lowest positions are laborer. reineke 2 hours ago Excellent article. In this Sunday's Register. They ARE Saint Joseph's University as far as I am concerned. The Des Moines Register published its annual list of all state employee salaries recently. pannapacker 3 hours ago It was the English Department at Saint Joseph's University that inspired me to go to graduate school with the goal of becoming a professor at a similar school. and food worker. Jean Goodwin 3 hours ago The shift from tenure track to adjunct faculty has an additional downside: it means that the TT faculty remaining have an increasing chunk of their job devoted to managing-managing adjuncts. • 2 people liked this. 10 people liked this. but I really returned to see my old mentors.

" I was reminded of this statement: “Over the past twenty-five years. Peter 4 people liked this. in the current job market. almost all of whom have the credentials that would have gained them tenure track status in former years. These individuals. Best. where they would make similar salaries doing working fewer hours. but increasing student populations something has to give. What is going into their tummies is. Adjuncts who continue to work these horrible jobs are complicit in a corrupt.D. olympicctc 1 hour ago Reading this article that hopefully asserts that "Adjuncts Build Strength in Numbers. but it remedies some of the worst features of multiple part time appointments. 12 people liked this. unjust system. curmudgeonintraining 1 hour ago It is getting harder and harder to to feel sorry for adjuncts who refuse to move on to other careers. they are not expected to do and publish research.S. It is not a good solution. excellent piece. but teach twice as much (eight to then courses a year). it is the only way to balance the need to teach more with a need to sustain scholarly productivity by tenure track faculty. and may participate in departmental self-governance. This academic elitism on many campuses that want to drive adjuncts out of academia needs to stop. U. A number of universities have assayed a half-way covenant: so-called teaching professionals.encounter food workers in the dining halls who make more money annually than do the faculty teaching in the classrooms. dvacchi 2 hours ago Good theme with this article . colleges and universities have substantially increased their reliance on part-time and adjunct faculty . the adjunct faculty are described on this list as "professor. worthy of more compensation than what is going into their heads. Of note. that designation means that they hold a Ph. pchoffer 2 hours ago Folks: I agree. and sadly one that seems to appear every year in CHE. Although they labor alongside tenure track. or other terminal degree. Only the statistics change--they get worse. making them a kind of second-class citizen in a research university department. have a reasonable expectation of continued employment (renewable or term contracts).in the era of declining budgets. get a salary equivalent to tenure track hires." In Iowa higher education.

but in comparison to their full-time colleagues. if not those on track to tenure. Symptomatic of the dismal situation is the discussion about pay per class. No longer. with the statistics getting worse each Also. adjuncts have very little progress to show in the 40 years contingency has been identified as a problem. like per filling or bridge.S.S. many institutions have no ability to transition their nontenured professors into tenured positions. At this rate. but annual salary.. not annual income. The . Jack Longmate Adjunct English Instructor Olympic College. the majority of part-time faculty members teach under emphatically substandard conditions. as adjuncts push to dignify their labor through participation in governance. When that occurs. this nonsense will burden their task without increasing their compensation.. perhaps that's all there is to celebrate. we will keep on having similar stories in 2022 and 2032. The best hope for U. as a plan to do so.instruction… The working conditions of part-time faculty members vary widely. as we U. articles like Audrey's appear every so often. academicspring 53 minutes ago Great article.. and may accreditation be someday returned to an honest reckoning of institutional resources. 2 people liked this. Yet we talk about pay per class. See http://vccfa. WA 3 people liked this. chriskox 1 hour ago The accrediting bodies used to care about full time faculty ratios. The compensation of dentists is not in terms of piecemeal efforts. Bremerton. Now its the arcana of "learning" output measures and an industry of "learning" In the absence of real progress. It is wonderful when the role of adjuncts is recognized on a campus and when selected adjuncts are motivated enough to try to organize. there may again be an increase in full time faculty. May the gods have mercy on their souls. As others have noted.." That statement was written 15 years ago in 1997 (“Statement from the Conference on the Growing Use of Part-Time and Adjunct Faculty” http://www.. Sadly.aaup. even if those nontenured work there for years. yet it would seem as applicable now as then. Many will throw themselves headlong into it -. community colleges that I see is to emulate the Vancouver Model where equality for all faculty exists.having drank from the font of delusion and so convinced they are performing a genuine public good.

Organizing is the only way these things will change. my salary would have gone a lot farther providing for other necessities... We need to be mindful of the reality that faculty working conditions=student learning conditions. they will go ahead and work full-time for $20. and if they could pay $1000 a course. but this is often what adjuncts make (or less) working full-time. or NTT faculty--suffers from an overuse of contingency... Administrators simply do it because they can. 3 people liked this.000 a year or even $30. or MORE than full-time.. Even when they make more. they can't count on it continuing. While one group or another may work independently to redress this situations. and so many other places (or sometimes less). It's a terrible way to treat teachers and a disservice to students as well.. They say they 'have' to in order to balance their budgets.000. no mention was made about the lack of benefits that contingent faculty struggle to do without--no health insurance. Had I not had to pay $950/month to Blue Cross Blue Shield before I became old enough for Medicare. Betsy Smith/Adjunct Professor of ESL/Cape Cod Community College camgray 0 minutes ago . All who are responsible for setting and agreeing to those kinds of wages for OTHER people while they make FAR more should be ashamed. no retirement. It is also surprising to me that while salaries at a few specific institutions were given. Once again. We cannot wait for health coverage until we turn 65. And $2500 a course at Virginia Commonwealth. as if this should even be an option. they would do that. too. TT.institutions create their own boxes and then act as though they simply must work within the constraints of their boxes. We also cannot afford to retire when we turn 65 if our employers have not contributed a penny to our pensions. even when it is such a disservice to the professors as well as to students who work with them. Except for the ever-growing administrative corps. these rates would be against the rules of their institutions. every segment of academe--whether students. wilkenslibrary 5 minutes ago It is surprising to me that an article about contingent faculty working conditions could omit the excellent work of New Faculty Majority (http://www. those decision-makers will never decide that in the interest of the budget.newfacultymajority. If they had any decency. it is when teachers and students come together to advance their congruent interests that they stand the greatest likelihood of bringing about change. Of course. we see that counting on administrators to 'do the right thing' does not work. we need to offer the best possible working conditions to all of our faculty. so if we truly want to offer the best possible education to our students.

there will be no money provided to fund more full-time positions. Point the finger back at legislators who have made it clear that they will continue to reduce funding higher education while also requiring more oversight and regulation and cheaper degrees for more students. but pointing the finger at administration as if they can simply print more money is a mistake. Until society finally accepts that a solid education is a worthy expense and that students will suffer as a result of the adjunct problem. The math just doesn't work out. We will all watch as excellent teaching continues to be devalued and defunded. . .The plight of adjucnt faculty is grave. You also won't find many students and parents lining up to pay increased tuition rates (if schools can even get them approved). You can't have more students get more degrees with improved outcomes at a reduced cost without exploiting someone along the way.

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