Monday, July 13, 2015

Holy shit, did anyone know this?

The term “contingent faculty” includes both part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty. Their common characteristic is that their institutions make little or no long-term commitment to them.

Today, more than 50 percent of all faculty hold part-time appointments. Many faculty classified as “part-time” actually teach the equivalent of a full-time course load.

To support themselves, part-time faculty often commute between institutions and prepare courses on a grueling timetable, making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students.

Since faculty classified as part-time are typically paid by the course, without benefits, a sizeable number of college teachers lacks access to health insurance and retirement plans.


  1. Well, at least there is now acknowledgement of the problem. That is progress. Remember how lack of such acknowledgement was a major complaint of "Generation X Goes to College," the 1996 book by Peter Sacks, as well as the 1996 essay by Henry Bauer, "The New Generations: Students Who Don't Study"?

    I like the parts about academic freedom further down the page.

  2. They/we also tend to be people who can't afford $375-500 conference registration fees (on top of $58+ yearly dues, with "events" involving speakers and meals $80-90 extra apiece), which probably explains our absence from the conversation at AAUP annual conferences. I've considered proposing a paper a few times, but I'm used to registration fees that are 1/3 to 1/4 of that. Maybe customary fees vary by discipline/frequency of grant funding (I have a similar problem with the Council for Undergraduate Research), but to this contingent humanities proffie (and, I suspect, to most contingent proffies) the AAUP's look astronomical.

    Many of us are also a bit less obsessed with preserving tenure than the AAUP historically has been.

    But, those caveats aside, the page does a pretty good job of laying out the basic facts and issues (including the weakening of faculty governance, which is a subject on which the tenurable and the untenurable can presumably agree -- at least if the tenurable are willing to embrace true democracy rather than the existing, ever-strengthening, oligarchy which some tenured faculty mistake for faculty governance. No faculty member is truly free unless we're all free).

    1. Why don't you get some co-author who does little or no useful work but pays the fee? Some ambitious or desperate person in need of publications may be happy with the arrangement. If you find that unethical, you can actually have the person try to help you. It's just that you shouldn't count on that being publishable.

  3. You'd be surprised how many people actually don't. Smart people. People in and near universities. People in positions of authority and responsibility. University students....