I was reading through AAUP’s Conversion of Appointment to the Tenure Track (2009) and found some interesting points.
Let me state up front that while I would like a full-time job, as far as I have been able to tell, at least half the adjuncts at both the schools I work with are perfectly happy in part-time positions. So I am not sure that converting to tenure would be in all the contingent faculty’s best interests.
Having said that, however, I think the AAUP does make some good points.
By 2007, however, almost 70 percent of faculty members were employed off the tenure track. Many institutions use contingent faculty appointments throughout their programs; some retain a tenurable faculty in their traditional or flagship programs while staffing othersâ€”such as branch campuses, online offerings, and overseas campusesâ€”almost entirely with contingent faculty. Faculty serving contingently generally work at significantly lower wages, often without health coverage and other benefits, and in positions that do not incorporate all aspects of university life or the full range of faculty rights and responsibilities. The tenure track has not vanished, but it has ceased to be the norm for faculty.
I think this is interesting. 70% of the faculty are off the tenure track! If that is correct, then community colleges are not the only ones hiring significant numbers of adjuncts to save money.
I am not sure that all adjuncts want all aspects of university life, but I am sure that more want it than have it.
I was reading this line thinking, Oh, no, give me a break. Then I finished it.
Faculty on contingent appointments frequently purchase their own computers and office supplies, stay in touch with students through cell phones and Internet connections that are not subsidized by their employers, and dip into their own wallets for journal subscriptions and travel to conferences to stay current in their fields.
Yes, we do often purchase our own computers (so?), but staying in touch with cell phones that are not subsidized, I can see that. I think anyone who gets personal journal subscriptions is dipping into their own wallets and travel to conferences is seriously underfunded at all but R-1s, and, according to rumors, it is underfunded at some of those, too.
That’s not a legitimate gripe for adjuncts. It’s just a gripe we all have. Now, maybe the unis should be footing the bill for all the conference traveling we do, but I don’t think that is ever likely to happen at all levels. It’s just prohibitively expensive.
Now this, though, I totally and absolutely agree with. In fact, I developed this, in terms of adjuncts, for an article coming out in Teaching English in a Two-Year College’s FORUM.
In addition to the injuries to students, campuses that overuse contingent appointments show higher levels of disengagement and disaffection among faculty, even those with more secure positions.
There are too many contingent faculty at my CC for the full-time faculty to have an opportunity to get to know. It’s seriously a disengagement and disaffection issue.
I also agree with them on this:
The best practice for institutions of all types is to convert the status of faculty serving contingently to eligible for tenure with only minor changes in job description. This means that faculty hired contingently with teaching as the major component of their workload will become tenure-eligible primarily on the basis of successful teaching.
Here’s another issue I disagree with them on.
Several noteworthy forms of conversion to tenure have been implemented or proposed at different kinds of institutions. The most successful forms are those that convert the status of individuals hired contingently to eligible for tenure, as opposed to those that convert positions while potentially leaving behind the faculty in them.
Yes, I think converting jobs to tenure-track is a good idea. But if they are going to pay full-time wages, I think colleges should have the opportunity to hire the best for the position. Hopefully that will be the adjunct, but if it is not, I don’t see why keeping them in the position simply because they were willing to do it for less is useful to the college. If they are paying, they ought to be able to hire the best they can reach with that salary.
I recommend you read it for yourself and see if you agree or disagree with most of what they had to say.