Thursday, February 11, 2016

Survey Finds Support and Concern for Contingent Faculty Wanting

Results of a recent survey from the New Faculty Majority, a national coalition for adjunct and contingent faculty equity, provides evidence that working conditions do not provide adequate resources or support for non-tenured faculty on higher-education campuses. The survey polled 400 contingent faculty members across 33 states in 2015, building on the results of the same survey administered in 2011. The results, which have changed little since 4 years ago, show some startling realities for contingent faculty members to which tenured faculty members simply are not exposed.

The conclusion here is that most post-secondary institutions do not prioritize contingent faculty when considering whom of their employees need to be supported seriously or compensated fairly for their work.

Some of the most jarring results are related to the livelihoods of contingent faculty, Despite the fact that forty-five percent of contingent faculty receive less than $20,000 per year from their teaching, seventy-three percent derive most of their income from their teaching positions and two-thirds of them have actively sought or are seeking tenure-track positions.

Other than the difficulties of supporting themselves, contingent faculty also face difficulties in securing the infrastructure and support they need to teach effectively. More than half of contingent faculty reported never being provided access to an office phone at at least one appointment, twenty four percent reported having no computer access at all at at least one appointment, and twenty-eight percent reported never being provided with office space at at least one appointment.

Contingent professors also suffer from a lack of guidance and attention from their university or department administrations. A full 70% of contingent faculty reported that they had never received any departmental or institutional orientation when they first began a new teaching appointment. More than half of contingent faculty have had to prepare to teach courses with less than three weeks' notice, and 23% percent have had to prepare to teach courses for which they never received curriculum guidelines.

All of this forces the question: Do institutions of higher education realize how much of the teaching load contingent faculty bear, and how do they support contingent faculty in lifting such a load?

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