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Adjunct Professors – the New Majority

Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions

Facts about adjuncts:

Vital Statistics

  • 75.5% of college faculty are now off the tenure track, meaning they have NO access to tenure.
  • This represents 1.3 million out of 1.8 million faculty members.
  • Of these, 700,000 or just over 50% are so-called part-time, most often known as “adjunct.”

Source: Dept of Education (2009)

  • Basic demographic info is available through Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and used to be collected through the National Study of PostSecondary Faculty, which is no longer funded and is gone.
  • According to AFT, “Underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are even more likely to be relegated to contingent positions; only 10.4 percent of all faculty positions are held by underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and of these, 7.6 percent — or 73 percent of the total minority faculty population — are contingent positions.”

Resources on Adjunct Working Conditions

  • Coalition on Academic Workforce (CAW), a group of 26 higher ed associations, disciplinary associations, and faculty organizations committed to working on the issues associated with deteriorating faculty working conditions and their effect on the success of college and university students in the United States. CAW just released the results of a survey of compensation (including benefits) and some working conditions of faculty off the tenure track in Fall 2010. Enormous response: 20,000 valid responses, of which half were part-time faculty.
  • The Adjunct Project a crowdsourced data collection project founded by one of our board members, Josh Boldt, an adjunct English instructor in Georgia, inspired after he attended our January summit and realized that the Modern Language Association, the disciplinary organization for professors of language and literature, recommends minimum compensation for 2011–12 of $6,800 for a standard 3-credit-hour semester course or $4,530 for a standard 3-credit-hour quarter or trimester course. These recommendations are based on a full-time load of 3 courses per semester (6 per year) or 3 courses per quarter or trimester (9 per year); annual full-time equivalent thus falls in a range of $40,770 to $40,800. (As far as we can tell from the data we have collected thus far, only 7% of departments in the modern languages are meeting or exceeding this recommendation)
  • The Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success  addresses the fundamental shift in the American academic workforce from tenurable to contingent faculty and focuses on the effects of that shift on student learning.
  • American Association of University Professors defends academic freedom and tenure, advocates collegial governance, and develops policies ensuring due process.
  • MLA Faculty Workforce Academic Workforce Data Center resources from the Modern Language Association, the national professional organization for teachers and scholars of languages and literature
  • Unions:
  • Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers
  • American Federation of Teachers Higher Education
  • National Education Association Higher Education
  • SEIU Adjunct Action

Key Findings of CAW Survey:

  • The median pay per course, standardized to a three-credit course, was $2,700 in fall 2010 ($24,000 FTE) and ranged in the aggregate from a low of $2,235 at two-year colleges to a high of $3,400 at four-year doctoral or research universities. While compensation levels varied most consistently by type of institution, part-time faculty respondents report low compensation rates per course across all institutional categories.
  • Part-time faculty respondents saw little, if any, wage premium based on their credentials. Their compensation lags behind professionals in other fields with similar credentials, and they experienced little in the way of a career ladder (higher wages after several years of work).
  • Professional support for part-time faculty members’ work outside the classroom and inclusion in academic decision making was minimal.
  • Part-time teaching is not necessarily temporary employment, and those teaching part-time do not necessarily prefer a part-time to a full-time position. Over 80% of respondents reported teaching part-time for more than three years, and over half for more than six years. Further­more, over three-quarters of respondents said they have sought, are now seeking, or will be seeking a full-time tenure-track position, and nearly three-quarters said they would definitely or probably accept a full-time tenure-track position at the institution at which they were cur­rently teaching if such a position were offered.

The gap between what a part-time faculty member earns and the median earnings of full-time, year-round workers of equivalent educational attainment is … Read More at:

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