In my last post I promised readers of my blog that I would move beyond the problems in Higher Education to focus on a list of solutions that pertain to non-tenure track faculty. This is an issue I have been discussing for some time with my colleagues at both Columbia College and UIC. What follows is a list of proposed workplace changes composed by Brianne Bolin and myself as part of an Adjunct Manifesto. This list is simply a piece of the larger work. To read the full text of the manifesto, go to this site: http://adjunctmanifesto.tumblr.com/
WE, AS NON-TENURED FACULTY, CALL FOR REFORM FROM WITHIN THE CURRENT SYSTEM. WE DEMAND THAT OUR ADMINISTRATORS ADOPT THESE CHANGES:
- All hiring and firing of adjunct faculty will be handled by a non-partisan committee composed of tenured and non-tenured faculty in the same discipline, a union representative (if applicable), and a human resources staff member.
- All adjunct faculty will be hired on a contract that is a minimum of one year and a maximum of five. No longer will adjuncts be hired by the semester or the class.
- Tenure will be opened to all faculty. The current system treats adjuncts status as a stigma and blocks advancement from within. Even in corporations, this does not align with common practice.
- Evaluation of all faculty for tenure and promotion will be based on three components: a dossier of research and/or educational materials, teaching evaluations, and a classroom visit report from a senior member of the faculty in their discipline.
- Governing bodies of an institution, such as departmental committees and faculty senates, will be comprised of representatives in a ratio that mirrors that of the faculty. For instance, if adjuncts represent 77% of the total faculty at a college of university, they must account for 77% of the departmental committee appointments and faculty senate membership.
- Courses will be assigned based on expertise. Many of us hold degrees and experience that allow us to teach courses at the intermediate and advanced level, yet because we are deemed “contingent,” we are only assigned introductory-level classes. Not only is our current system of course assignment arbitrary and unfair, but it shortchanges our institutions. By adopting this practice, our institutions will be supporting greater diversity and innovation of instruction.
- Salaries will be based on experience in a field of study, evidence of quality teaching practices, adoption of innovation in instruction, job performance, and length of service.
- Terminology will be clarified to more accurately reflect the expertise of existing faculty. MA and MFA holders will be referred to as Instructor or Senior Instructor, regardless of their employment status. PhD holders will be referred to as Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor, with the prefix “Visiting” added to those not on the tenure track.
These are just a few of the solutions that came to mind. I encourage readers to think of their own and also to offer suggestions about how to improve those listed above. We are but a handful thinking and speaking on these issues for the first time. Add your voice to the conversation and turn these musings into realities. Once we gain critical mass, perhaps we can motivate those organizations that supposedly represent our profession to take action on our behalf.