Adjunct News

Taylor Fontes

Adjunct Orientations Take Hold

Posted on: March 15th, 2013 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

A handful of universities around the country are beginning to provide adjunct orientations to help adjuncts acclimate to the university, learn valuable skills to apply in the classroom and feel part art of a community on campus.  The scope, structure, content, emphasis and delivery method of the orientations vary across universities.   National Louis University in Chicago uses an online orientation which adjuncts are required to take before they are assigned classes and focuses primarily on university policies and the logistics of teaching.  At CUNY Queens College orientation is conducted in-person and among its topics is how the faculty union and benefits work.  Mesa Community College in Arizona uses team-building exercises as part of its agenda.  And Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia provides a 2-hour event in the auditorium open to adjuncts from all departments.  The content of their orientation consists mainly of university policies.

Editorial Comment:

This is something that the Hofstra AAUP has contemplated incorporating into its own policies, but just how to go about it has been the challenge.  Our adjunct recruitment campaign was rife with obstacles because we didn’t even know who our adjunct members were let alone how to reach out to them.  And after the painstaking research to identify them, it came to our attention that many have been working here for years and not only did not know that they were in our bargaining unit, but that we even had a union.  Since then we have made tremendous strides in growing our adjunct membership, and as a result we are in a better position to develop and deliver an orientation that would, at the very least, provide an overview of the union, its function at Hofstra and the critical articles of our collective bargaining agreement.  With adequate resources we would be able to enhance the orientation by providing other types of information, which would help with professional development and community building among the faculty, both adjunct and tenured.

To read the full article by Audrey Williams go to:

http://chronicle.com/article/Adjunct-Orientations-Take/137631/?key=TW51d1RmYipEYiw1MjtAbzcGOyQ4M04nY3dIOnsobl5dFA==

Taylor Fontes

U. of Maryland Weighs Big Changes for Faculty Members Off the Tenure Track

Posted on: March 6th, 2013 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

The University of Maryland has announced an unprecedented, groundbreaking effort to improve working conditions for non-tenure track faculty on their campus.  The University Senate is scheduled to vote today on an “internal task force report” that documents the disparities between faculty and proposes the long-awaited changes sought out by non-tenured faculty and their advocates.  Such changes include more pay, (particularly for work demands that were previously fulfilled gratis), better job security, better and more consistent hiring practices, and more respect.  Equally important as proposing such dramatic improvements in working conditions is the report’s commitment to transparency regarding how much they rely on non-tenure track faculty and the hidden costs associated.  If the University Senate votes in favor of the report, it will provide a model for other major research institutions.  Democratic lawmakers had proposed to offer full collective bargaining rights to adjuncts at the university, however they have since dropped the proposal in light of the report.  If improvements are not made, they may revisit the issue.

Editorial Comment:

There is no denying that a major step being taken at the University of Maryland in proposing this task force report, and other universities should follow suit.  However, one might speculate that these efforts could have something to do with lawmakers proposing that adjuncts be given full collective bargaining rights.  If the administration placates them by offering all of these improvements and promising greater transparency with respect to disparities, etc. then just maybe the adjuncts will deem collective bargaining is superfluous.  In a perfect (academic) world it would be great if the administration were so charitable toward faculty that there would be no need for unions.  But we all know that this is rarely, if ever, the case.  So while we should indeed praise the University of Maryland for paving the way toward more equitable treatment of adjuncts, we must never forget that nothing is free and always be leery of ulterior motives.

To read the full article by Peter Schmidt go to:

http://chronicle.com/article/U-of-Maryland-Weighs-Big/137691/?key=TWgmIgZoYi9GMHxhbm1FYDldYSNqNBl6ZyZPaisibl5cEw==

To read the task-force report go to:

https://www.senate.umd.edu/meetings/materials/2012to2013/030613/NTTF_Task_Force_Report_12-13-41.pdf

Taylor Fontes

Succeed and Lose Your Job

Posted on: March 1st, 2013 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

A non-tenure-track professor at Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication was told that he would undergo his 3-year review and would therefore not be rehired for the 2013-2014 academic year.  The news was a complete shock, as the instructor who was part-creator of a highly successful on-line master’s degree program.  The impetus behind the decision most likely relates to union representation and collective bargaining.  Instructors off the tenure track at the university are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement until after they pass their third year review.  Although the faculty of the school passed a resolution to allow the review to proceed, the director denied it.  By denying the review the administration avoids the legal obligation to provide a formal reason for not renewing the contract.

Editorial Comment:

It is bad enough that non-tenure-track faculty are treated as the untouchables of academe, but this case truly adds insult to injury.  If it was not imperative that adjuncts be afforded the right to union representation before, then it certainly is now.  This type of exploitation is unacceptable and has repercussions that go far beyond this individual’s career.  It has the potential to unravel the higher education system and negatively impact students who pay good money to receive quality education.

If a professor, tenured or not, cannot be assured protection over his or her professional contributions then students cannot be assured the that they are getting what they deserve from the educational services that they avail themselves of.  The integrity of academe as a whole is under threat if administrators continue to assault faculty’s right to bargain collectively.  We need to begin to take these threats seriously, organize and fight back.

To read the full article by Carl Straumsheim go to:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/26/kent-state-university-gets-rid-lecturer-who-helped-launch-successful-masters-degree