Academic journal article College Composition and Communication

Half a Loaf? Hard Lessons When Promoting Adjunct Faculty

Academic journal article College Composition and Communication

Half a Loaf? Hard Lessons When Promoting Adjunct Faculty

Article excerpt

In discussions of working conditions for non-tenure-track adjunct faculty in university and college writing programs-most recently, the "CCCC Statement on Work- ing Conditions for Non-Tenure-Track Writing Faculty"-the goal of equity leads to calls for comparable pay and benefits, hiring practices, access to professional development, class sizes and assignments, and work space and resources. Sometimes there are calls for pathways to better positions: for example, part-time faculty should be given opportunities to apply for full-time positions, or full-time nontenure- track faculty should be offered pathways to tenure-line positions. What seems less common is specific advocacy for some sort of promotion process for part-time, non-tenure-track faculty. The New Faculty Majority lists professional advancement as one of its seven goals: "Equity in Professional Advancement: Progressive Salary Steps and Equal Access to Professional Development Opportuni- ties for All Faculty." The "CCCC Statement" does briefly mention promotion in its first core principle: "Departments, programs, and faculty must work to ensure equity for NTT writing faculty by attending to issues associated with employment: compensation; job security; benefits; access to resources; access to shared governance; and opportunities for professional advancement." In similar fashion, the MLA Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members recommends that "All faculty members should have access to advancement opportunities that allow for a progressive career path" (Committee). In fact, at many institutions, part-time faculty work for years without recognition of their experience and excellence. A fifteen-year veteran may be paid the same per-course rate as a newly hired adjunct. Excellence in teaching is seldom recognized through a review process that leads to recognition, much less promotion.

Whenever broad principles like those cited above are discussed among university faculty, people often respond by saying, "At my institution," followed by accounts of local contexts, histories, and constraints. To think globally and act locally is a cliché precisely because it is an obvious statement of how the world works. The authors of this article think it might be instructive to share an account of how we participated in an effort to apply principles of faculty equity at our university. As we worked with other faculty and administrators to implement a promotion policy for part-time faculty, we learned yet again that every effort to improve the working conditions of contingent faculty ultimately highlights the ways those faculty positions remain inadequately supported and out of alignment with the conditions of tenure- line faculty. This case study may encourage and guide faculty at other institutions to develop a comparable process allowing contingent faculty an opportunity for professional advancement. It will also remind us all that systemic inequity cannot be papered over and must be addressed by systemic change, not temporary amelioration.

Institutional Context

At our institution, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a large urban university in the Midwest with some PhD programs, especially in professional schools (such as medicine, law, engineering, nursing, etc.), each school has considerable autonomy through what is known as Responsibility-Centered Management (RCM). Variations in salaries, working loads, and budgeting are the norm, and are especially striking when it comes to part-time faculty working conditions. In some schools, part-time faculty are paid well and receive increases over time; in other schools on the same campus, including the School of Liberal Arts (SLA), where the writing program is located within the English department, parttime faculty salaries remain low, increases are infrequently given, and when given are applied equally to all part-time faculty currently employed, with no recognition of years of service or professional excellence. …

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