Report from first meeting of OPTFA

Energy was in the air when about a dozen adjunct faculty members from campuses in the Akron and Cleveland areas turned out for the first meeting of the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association on Jan. 27. If you couldn’t make it to the meeting and want to know what happened, here is an update:

  • A regular meeting schedule for OPTFA was set. OPTFA will meet on the fourth Sunday of each month at 6 p.m. and on the fourth Wednesday of each month at noon. Meetings will be held at the OPTFA office, Suite 26, 2830 Copley Road, Copley, Ohio. Weekend and weekday meetings were scheduled to accommodate the varied schedules of adjunct faculty. Dates for the next meetings are Sunday, Feb 24, at 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 27, at noon.
  • Two individuals graciously stepped up to serve as co-chairs of the newly formed OPTFA Organizing Committee. David Wilder of Tri-C and John Carroll University and April Freely of The University of Akron volunteered their services. They have issued putting a call for volunteers to join the committee.
  • Maria Maisto and Matt Williams, president and vice president of  New Faculty Majority, updated the group on recent NFM activities, from Maisto’s participation on a presidential panel focused on adjuncts at the Modern Language Association Convention 2013 to her recent op-ed,” Higher Education’s Darkest Secret,” posted on Take Part.
  • The group discussed a variety of topics, including:
    • setting up a statewide conference for adjuncts in partnership with AURCO, the Association for University Regional Campuses of Ohio
    • retirement benefits for adjuncts, including STRS and Social Security
    • Ohio law regarding adjuncts and collective bargaining
    • obtaining unemployment compensation for adjuncts, a topic that will be covered in a March 20 webinar with Northeast Ohio employment law attorney Nancy Grim. The webinar will be held at noon. Check out the OPTFA Events page for details.

Since the meeting, conversation on the Ohio Adjunct Discussion Listserv has been brisk. It has revolved around the issues raised at the Jan. 27 meeting, as well as OPTFA Organizing Committee Co-chair Wildman’s suggestion that we organize a state-wide tour of campuses to meet with adjuncts and gather their thoughts about building the OPTFA. An adjunct faculty member at Youngstown State University has already volunteered to organize such an event on that campus. If you would like to join the Organizing Committee and/or help plan an OPTFA event at your campus, email optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

We urge you to keep up to date on OPTFA news and conversation by joining the ongoing Ohio Adjunct Listserv Discussion and visiting the OPTFA website for regular updates.

3 comments

  1. Gurvinder says:

    Although it probably can’t hurt, haivng experience as an adjunct is no guarantee of obtaining a full time job. Full time jobs very rarely open up anymore. When full timers leave, so many of those positions are replaced with adjuncts. I’ve stayed in one of my positions for four years, because I’d been told our programs were growing and I was first in line for a full time job. Since I created those programs for them, as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), I had every reason to believe that would be the case. Ultimately, however, instead of full time positions opening up, they made all existing full timers part timers which none of us had predicted. In my experience, private colleges are most likely to have dropped union affiliation, and tenure was eliminated thereafter. That was usually due to concessions faculty had agreed upon, such as paid family leave and free tuition for dependents. Not an even trade, IMHO, but it was done in the 80s and faculty said they hadn’t envisioned how so many full time jobs would be replaced by adjuncts.Ultimately, I think accrediting bodies are culpable, because they are accepting of such high percentages of contingent faculty. Remember when the quantity of books in college libraries was a big deal? Now they look for the number of online subscriptions. Times change.

    • Smajo says:

      I’ve not seen info about percentages of cotgnnneit faculty included in reports on college rankings. Though they would probably tell you if you asked, I don’t know of any colleges which otherwise provide that info up front At some schools where I’ve worked, only faculty designated as Core were listed in catalogs and on school websites. Core is a designation that some colleges (usually with no union or tenure) often give to full time and half time faculty. They don’t usually define what Core means or indicate which faculty are full time and half time. When adjuncts, who were not designated as Core asked why they weren’t included in faculty listings at one college where I’ve worked, they were told it was too much to keep up with the high turn-over of cotgnnneit faculty. After accrediting bodies insisted they do so, the college eventually added adjuncts to faculty listings, though none of the info provided indicated which faculty were adjuncts. TA’s have various duties and they are not necessarily involved in the actual teaching of courses. Regional accrediting bodies want to see instructors who’ve earned at least one degree beyond the level of the students they’re teaching. It’s very rare for colleges to employ faculty with just bachelor’s degrees for teaching, let alone someone who’s not yet earned a degree. Most colleges require at least a master’s degree of instructors. TA’s who are involved in teaching are typically grad students.

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