Guest Blogger Dr. Elizabeth Keenan teaches music history at Fordham University and Columbia University. With the exception of a one-year VAP, she has been adjuncting since 2007.
I’m an adjunct at two different private universities.* In those positions, I’ve encountered numerous tenured and tenure-track faculty who were allies to adjuncts, and numerous faculty who were not. After Monday’s post critiquing ineffective tenured allies, I want to be a bit more productive than deconstructive. One of the things that I’ve learned from my long years studying feminist activism is that critique has its place, but positive actions should emerge from it.
Here are some handy tips, if you have tenure (or are close to getting it), and you’d like to be an ally: Continue reading
I initially was going to post this as a comment to Aaron’s post, but it became too lengthy to seem a reasonable “comment.”
Like Aaron, I myself and many others among us who now hold tenure-track positions have had some experience as adjunct faculty. I taught at four institutions for six years while finishing my dissertation–or, more precisely, while eventually trying to time my application for the degree to any sign of even a modest improvement in what was then a terrible job market. (I wonder how old one has to be to remember the last time that the higher-ed job market was actually “good.” In 1978, when I started my graduate studies, the bottom must have fallen out, for there were 29 new Ph.D’s for every tenure-track opening.) I calculated that being slow to finish the degree would be less a liability than having an “old” degree. As it turned out, I was very, very lucky to be offered a position just before the 1990 recession caused yet another round of hiring freezes.
I recount my own background, here, because I think that many tenured faculty have some firsthand experience with the impossibility of trying to make a living in any professionally satisfying way as an adjunct faculty member, and some of us are actually taking concrete (if sometimes maddeningly incremental) steps to try to change things for the adjuncts at our own institutions and even beyond. Continue reading
Why is it that we, the lucky ones, try so hard to divorce ourselves from those who have not had the same breaks? Why do we, the tenured ones, look away when we see adjuncts grading papers while sitting in a stairwell? Why do we, the lordly observers, think of ourselves as the master teachers when sitting in on the class of a part-timer who may be teaching at two other schools—and whose sense of our students is probably better than our own? Why do we, with our lovely PhDs, think of ourselves as having “earned” something those poor contingent hires could not—forgetting that our degrees are also a gift from those who financed our schooling and that quite a few of these others also have doctorates? Why do we forget what Phil Ochs tried to teach us so many years ago: “There but for fortune/Go you or I.” Continue reading
AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum spoke on Oct. 12 at the Field Museum in Chicago to the Illinois AAUP conference. Here is the powerpoint he used in his presentation on the AAUP in the 21st Century:
AAUP’s Mission in the 21st Century.pptx
The president of AAUP is also a very fine contract negotiator.
This is the article on the new contract written by Meagan Pant that appeared in the Dayton Daily News:
Nearly a year after voting to join a union, Wright State University full-time faculty not eligible for tenure have their first contract, which offers them raises, creates job security and sets typical workloads.
The American Association of University Professors announced Monday that the union and university had an agreement for the 180 faculty. Continue reading
As American universities start to collaborate more closely with colleges and universities in other countries, ticklish questions are beginning to arise. Oh yes, the questions have been around for a long time, but only now are they beginning to have an impact on American faculties. Few places in the world outside of the US and Europe have any respect at all for the traditions of Academic Freedom that are a bedrock (though much eroded) of European/American education. As American institutions establish campuses elsewhere in the world or develop intimate connections with foreign universities, the question becomes critical: How to we American academics respond to the abrogation of Academic Freedom elsewhere? Particularly, how do we respond when it is abridged?
Today in Capeheart v. Terrell (2013 IL App (1st) 122517), an Appellate Court of Illinois overturned a state court’s previous ruling that NEIU (Northeastern Illinois University) officials were protected by Illinois’ anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law against a defamation suit by NEIU professor Loretta Capeheart. The appellate ruling reinstates Capeheart’s lawsuit, and means she is no longer liable for NEIU officials’ legal costs.
On Monday, September 9, Ohio Conference AAUP President John McNay delivered testimony [full text provided below] to the Higher Education Reform Study Committee–a new standing committee started in the Ohio House of Representatives over the summer.
The committee has embarked on a “road show,” traveling all over the state to public and for-profit colleges to discuss a myriad of issues in higher education.
On September 9, the committee met at Columbus State Community College to address the topic of ”Reducing the High Cost of Higher Education.” “Faculty Workload” was a topic listed under that heading.
During his testimony, McNay explained, ”The common assumption is that universities’ costs are so high due to the labor (e.g. faculty) that they have to employ…Yet the most recent data from the Integrated Post-Secondary Data System (IPEDS) reveals that between FY 2002 and FY 2011, Ohio’s institutions spent, on average, 29.5 percent of their operating budgets on total instructional compensation (e.g. salaries and benefits). Over the 10 year period, total instructional compensation declined by 3.9 percent.” Continue reading
Last week, President Obama released a higher education reform proposal, citing the goals of making college more affordable and reining in student debt.
While the AAUP applauded the President for raising these concerns - ones that we share – AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum called the plan “little more than a version of the failed policy of ‘No Child Left Behind’ brought to higher education.”
In his statement, Fichtenbaum distinguished between the “costs” and the “prices” of higher education, highlighting tthat while costs in higher education are growing rapidly, they are not growing as quickly as tuition prices.
The growing tuition prices have been driven by drastic declines in state support, as well as massive growth in administrative spending. The President’s plan fails to acknowledge these root problems.
While President Obama promised to consult with colleges and universities in rolling out his plan, Fichtenbaum noted that means communicating with university presidents and not the faculty.
As a result, a White House petition was initiated to ask the President to consult with college and university faculty about higher education reform. The petition requires 100,000 signers in order for the White House to respond.
Please click on the link, sign the petition, and share widely via e-mail and social media.
The following statement was made yesterday by the Purdue AAUP about plans to cut faculty positions at Purdue Calumet. An hour after the AAUP statement was released, the chancellor sent a memo expressing hope that the cuts can be rescinded.
Faculty Terminations at Purdue Calumet
The recent announcement of faculty terminations by the Administration at Purdue Calumet is extremely troubling. These terminations do not appear to have been conducted with the proper faculty input, in contradiction to the concept of shared governance. The timing of this announcement, coming in the week before the academic faculty return to teaching, under scores this apparent lack of shared governance. The justification for terminating faculty has centered on Purdue Calumet’s claim of financial difficulties. The faculty has yet to be able to confirm this assertion, as the administration seems reluctant to share financial information. However, while claiming that they are in such dire financial trouble they must lay off instructors, lecturers, and tenure track faculty, Purdue Calumet is actively hiring more administrators, increasing funding to the athletic program and hiring fitness assistants.