Replaceable Professors: An Observation

Article excerpt

This article is an extension of a comment made by one of the authors relative to the future of college and university professors and their collective bargaining units. In it, one of the authors suggested that professors may be easily replaceable and thus collective bargaining units could find a new avenue of survival with health, disability, pensions, life insurance and other amenities for the growing army of adjuncts, Snell (2000:8)

Discussion

This theme was first visited in an article entitled "Junior Faculty in an Age of Scarcity" numerous years ago, Snell et. al. (1976:245-252.) In that essay, one of the authors suggested that times would probably not improve for faculty. Years later, that appears to be valid. Recently, Community College Week (2000:6-8) did a nationwide survey of community colleges and discovered that most were struggling to make ends meet. Additionally, the NEA ADVOCATE (2000:3) indicated that a national survey suggested that there is a concern among full time faculty over the increased use of adjuncts.

As community colleges remain labor intensive, numerous strategies have been tried to stabilize tuition. One is to cap enrollment. Another is to cut entire departments. A third is to raise tuition. A fourth is to cut faculty numbers and increase class size. All have been met with varying degrees of success.

It would appear that one of the alternatives most viable is to continue to increase adjunct professors. This alternative gives an educational institution remarkable fluidity to adapt to changing markets, hold cost down, and provide small classes. Community College Week (2000:18) indicates that 65% of all community colleges teachers are part time. There is a movement to organize collective bargaining for adjuncts, however, as Professor Roueche (League for Innovation) indicates, the money is not there to hire more full time staff and part timers are plentiful.

Thus, it would appear that adjunct armies remain with us. However, there appears to be two things that community colleges can do to acknowledge the value of adjuncts. One is to notify collective bargaining agencies that there is a pool of applicants that may participate in numerous insurance programs. …