Friday, November 21, 2014

Breaking News.

Adjunct faculty: We are the 76.4 percent
from the Burlington Free Press

In the past 25 years, there has been a dramatic shift in higher education. In 1990, most college courses were taught by full-time, tenured faculty. In 2014, the majority of college courses are taught by part-time, "contingent" faculty, who now make up 76.4 percent of all college professors nationwide.

Many people outside academia assume that with the title "professor" comes a decent salary and benefits. After all, college professors have played by the rules, worked hard, taken on those student loans, gotten those advanced degrees and (as the saying goes) "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" into a respected profession.

Unfortunately, for adjunct faculty, this is not the case at all. Instead, teaching the maximum allowed course load of three courses per semester, my annual after-tax income is under $20,000.

The Rest.


  1. A valiant effort. I don't know how much good it will do, but it can't hurt to try. In the last few years, my hopes have shifted from the possibility that the "consumers" (students and parents, who in this context do somewhat deserve the name) will object to their ever-increasing tuition dollars being directed to everything but the salaries of the people who interact directly with students to the possibility that those same students, as graduates into what might actually turn out (finally) to be an improving economy, become increasingly likely to rule out grad school (at least the sort of grad school that involves TAships and leads to academic jobs) as a viable option. That won't be a good outcome for the academy in the long run, but if we can't fix things from the inside out, they're going to have to be addressed on the (labor) supply side.

    Apropos of (at least some) of the above: I know the headline refers to local conditions, but my first thought on seeing it was "we've gone from 70% to 76% in a few years? At this rate, when will the tenured faculty disappear entirely?" The answer, of course, is not anytime soon (if only because there are a reasonable number of deans and subdeans and sub-sub-deans who still negotiate tenure as part of their contracts), but the power of the tenured is quickly eroding along with their numbers.

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