This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education
  Wednesday, November 22, 2000

  Report Details Colleges' Heavy Reliance on Part-Time Instructors


  A report aimed at injecting hard data into the long-simmering
  debate over the use of part-time professors in academe has
  mostly confirmed the conventional wisdom: that nontenure-track
  instructors make up almost half of the teaching staff in many
  humanities and social-science disciplines. The survey also
  found that the nontenure-track professors receive far less pay
  and far fewer benefits than their peers.

  The report, to be released today by the Coalition on the
  Academic Workforce, an association of the leaders of
  disciplinary societies, surveyed departments in 10
  social-science and humanities fields to discover which types
  of faculty members teach what courses, and what kinds of pay
  and benefits the professors receive. The survey, which was
  conducted by the opinion-research firm Roper Starch, made
  these findings:

  Freestanding composition programs have by far the highest
  proportion of classes taught by part-time and graduate-student
  instructors (31.4 percent and 34.9 percent, respectively) and
  the lowest taught by tenure-track instructors (14.6 percent).

  Except in history and art history, full-time tenure-track
  professors teach fewer than half of the introductory
  undergraduate courses offered. In English, composition,
  foreign languages, and philology, full-time tenure-track
  instructors teach only a fraction of such courses, ranging
  from 6.9 percent to 34 percent.

  In different disciplines, graduate-student instructors teach
  anywhere from 7 percent to 34 percent of all undergraduate
  classes, and up to 42.5 percent of introductory courses.

  Part-time faculty members are rarely afforded benefits. Only
  22.6 percent of history departments offered any benefits to
  part-timers, while in other disciplines, only about 40 percent
  offered benefits.

  Even teaching four courses a term, part-time faculty members
  are paid at a rate -- less than $3,000 per course on average
  -- that puts them in an equivalent salary range to fast-food
  workers and baggage porters.

  In part, the coalition's study stems from pressure put on
  professional disciplines by graduate-student activists within
  the Modern Language Association. During the 1998 meeting of
  the M.L.A.'s Delegate Assembly, the association's
  graduate-student caucus introduced a successful motion to
  require the M.L.A. to collect and publish data on the salaries
  and working conditions of part-time faculty members. (See an
  article from The Chronicle, January 8, 1999.) In the years
  since the 1998 meeting, leaders of the M.L.A. worked with
  their counterparts at other academic associations -- 25 in all
  -- to form the coalition and to conduct this joint study.
  Because of the specific demands of the graduate-student
  motion, the M.L.A. will release its own report on
  graduate-student and part-time instructors; that report will
  attach the names of departments at specific universities to
  the data.

  A preliminary summary released by the M.L.A. looked at
  part-time and graduate-student instruction by type of
  institution. These results are among the project's most
  surprising, as they show that elite, Ph.D.-granting
  institutions are just as likely as colleges that grant only
  associate degrees to use nontenured or part-time faculty
  members in English and foreign-language courses.

  According to the M.L.A., full-time tenured or tenure-track
  professors at doctorate-granting institutions teach only 30.5
  percent of English classes and 28.4 percent of
  foreign-language classes; in departments at associate-degree
  colleges, full-time tenured or tenure-track instructors teach
  31.8 percent of English classes and 26.2 percent of language
  classes. Only in English departments that do not offer
  graduate degrees at institutions that grant only bachelor's
  degrees did the proportion of tenured and tenure-track
  instructors exceed half (53.6 percent); 46.3 percent of the
  foreign-language courses at those institutions were taught by
  tenure-track and tenured faculty.

  Faculty members interviewed by The Chronicle -- full-time and
  part-time alike -- expect the findings of the two surveys to
  strengthen the claims of advocates for part-timers.

  Ernst Benjamin, director of research for the American
  Association of University Professors, emphasized that the
  surveys broke new ground by taking the accounting of faculty
  members down to the departmental level. "That's new data," he

  Mr. Benjamin said the report did far more than simply confirm
  the anecdotal sense that colleges rely heavily on part-timers.
  In the past, he said, researchers have known how many
  part-timers were teaching, but researchers haven't known what
  proportion of the classes part-timers were teaching. While
  many academics are eagerly awaiting the M.L.A.'s release of
  the data broken down by departments, Mr. Benjamin said that
  even without those details, the survey is important. "This
  survey is very valuable even if doesn't name names because
  it's telling us what the salary patterns are." He added:
  "People call me all the time for part-time salary data and I
  can't give it to them. So for first time I can tell them that
  25 percent make less than $2,000."

  Many observers were struck by how meager the per-course pay is
  for part-time faculty members. "To be honest," said Eric
  Foner, president of the American Historical Association, "I
  thought the pay was a little better. What is it they're
  making? Sixteen hundred? Two thousand? That sounds like 20
  years ago. Clearly, it's impossible to make a living teaching
  adjunct courses."

  Mr. Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University, said
  that he hoped the study's concrete findings would prompt
  tenured professors to pay more attention to the part-time
  issue. "This is really the first time that tenured professors
  are taking notice and taking action," he said. "In the past,
  it was, 'We have tenure, we're teaching what we want, it's not
  our problem.'" Mr. Foner said that with this study, professors
  are starting to realize that the part-time system "undermines
  tenure, undermines the institutions they work in."

  He added: "We don't want to be the last generation of
  full-time faculty."

  David Adamany, the president of Temple University, who
  participated in the first meeting of the Coalition on the
  Academic Workforce in 1998, said the report failed to confront
  the most important question of all: What effect does the use
  of part-timers have on the quality of education?

  "This describes who does the teaching but not whether that has
  any effect upon students or not," he said. "It may well be
  that part-time teachers are as effective or even more
  effective in introductory courses than the full-time faculty,
  but we don't know that. This report gives us useful
  information but doesn't answer the fundamental question of
  whether the growing use of part-time faculty has any effect
  whatsoever on education."

  Mr. Adamany agreed that part-time salaries are too low, but he
  questioned where the money for raises was going to come from.
  Institutions don't have the resources to hire more
  full-timers, he argued, when the full-time professors they
  already have are winning reduced teaching loads and avoiding
  teaching introductory courses. "Institutions are filling in
  the curriculum that is no longer being taught by the full-time
  faculty by hiring part-timers."

  Mr. Benjamin said that the new data make clear that there
  aren't even enough full-time professors to provide instruction
  to first- and second-year students. "If you took the full-time
  faculty teaching upper divisions and said, `You should teach
  the introductory courses,' then there wouldn't be anybody to
  teach the upper divisions."

  Part-time faculty members found vindication in the survey.

  "I think this study reinforces what a lot of us have thought,"
  said Keith Hoeller, a part-time instructor of philosophy at
  Green River Community College and cofounder of the Washington
  Part-Time Faculty Association, which represents adjuncts in
  Washington State. "The academy has developed a caste system
  for its faculty. I've called it `academic apartheid.' A
  minority of full-time faculty rule over a vast majority of
  part-time faculty."

  Critics often complain that the use of part-time and
  graduate-student instructors gives students substandard
  education. Mr. Hoeller said -- and Mr. Foner agreed -- that
  students are "cheated" by the part-time system, but not
  because part-time instructors are less-able instructors. Said
  Mr. Hoeller: "First, a fraud is being perpetrated by colleges
  by their not revealing the large number of part-time faculty
  that they are using." But just as harmful to a student's
  education, Mr. Hoeller argued, is the fact that "by having us
  come and go on campus, our ability to be involved with
  students is undercut." The coalition's study confirmed that
  many part-timers don't have access to e-mail, or their own
  offices or phones on campus, Mr. Hoeller noted. "Students
  can't get a hold of part-timers -- they're not in the phone
  directories, they're not in the catalogs."

  Cary Nelson, an English professor at the University of
  Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who helped the graduate students
  push their original motion within the M.L.A., described as
  "stunning" the survey's finding that English departments at
  Ph.D.-granting institutions depend on part-timers and graduate
  teaching assistants as much as community colleges do. "I have
  made the argument before that you can go to Yale and basically
  get the same instruction you'd get at Long Island Community
  College because higher education is relying on the same labor
  pool," he said. "So you have the institutions with the highest
  self image and the greatest amount of pride and the greatest
  amount of cult prestige aligned, in terms of their labor
  policies, with institutions at the bottom end of the ladder.
  The survey made that stark."

  The full report can be found at

  Courtney Leatherman contributed to this report.


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