Tag Archive for adjunct faculty

OPTFA to meet with USW on Dec. 11

The Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association will meet with representatives from the United Steelworkers at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 11, to discuss USW’s adjunct faculty organizing efforts in Pennsylvania, as well as the situation of adjuncts in Ohio.

The meeting is open to all interested adjunct faculty. It will be held at the OPTFA office, Copley Commons, 2830 Copley Rd., Suite 26, Copley, Ohio 44321. For more information, email optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

The Adjunct Faculty Association, a USW affiliate, has organized adjuncts at Duquesne University and has advocated for their improved working conditions.

Examples of USW activism include:

Although Ohio law stipulates that colleges and universities are not required to bargain collectively with adjunct faculty, the law does not prevent adjunct faculty from organizing or joining a union.

Higher ed analyst blasts UA for low grad rates, lack of leadership

A column in today’s Akron Beacon Journal written by higher ed analyst Joseph Yeado of the Education Trust blasts The University of Akron for its plummeting graduation ratesUA grad rate particularly the dismal six-year graduation rate of 9.8 percent for black students.

The piece criticizes UA for lack of leadership and “an extensive building spree.”

It also calls for campus-wide engagement in “establishing a culture of completion where everyone, from tenured professor to resident assistant, is responsible for ensuring student success.”

We would note that current policies and practices regarding part-time faculty at UA make that impossible.

Read the full article at this link: 
Everything at UA but enough grads and add your comments.

How higher education makes part-time faculty invisible

One way to cover up a problem is to make it invisible.

Part-time faculty, who generally make low wages and receive no benefits even though they comprise two-thirds of college and university faculty nationwide, are rendered invisible because so many different words are used to name them, according to Marisa Allison, acting director of research at the New Faculty Majority Foundation and a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at George Mason University.

Marissa Allison, acting research director of New Faculty Majority, presents her research on contigency and women at the AAUW Ohio Equity Day and Convention 2013.

Marisa Allison, acting research director of New Faculty Majority, presents her research on contigency and women at the AAUW Ohio Equity Day and Convention 2013.

Part-timers are called adjuncts, contingent employees, lecturers, non-tenure-track, term, part-time, post-doctoral, teaching assistants, and auxiliary employees. As a result, they exist generally unrecognized and unrepresented within the academy.

The low status of part-time faculty presents them with a number of challenges:

  • unequal compensation
  • lack of job security
  • no academic freedom
  • lack of professional development
  • lack of advancement opportunities
  • little to no benefits

Allison shared data on these issues at two breakout sessions she led on “Women as ‘Professor Staff‘: Gender Inequity in the Academy” at AAUW Ohio Equity Day and Convention, held April 6-7 in Newark, Ohio. She was joined by April Freely, co-chair of the Organizing Committee of the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association.

Inequitable compensation

Allison said that another way that part-time faculty are made invisible is by not addressing the inequitable way they are treated. While nationwide the median pay for tenure track faculty to teach a three-credit course is $6,000, part-time faculty make $2,700. Meanwhile, the median revenue that a three-credit course brings in is $84,000 nationwide, Allison said.

So it should come as no surprise that the number of individuals with advanced degrees who are receiving government aid such as food stamps has increased. Of the 22 million individuals with advanced degrees, 360,000 were receiving public assistance in 2010, she reported. That figure more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.

In addition, part-time faculty often lack access to support services and resources such as copying, office space, computers, telephones, and textbooks.

The demise of the tenure track

The problem will only get worse, Allison said, because the number of tenure track faculty is decreasing, while the number of part-time and non-tenure-track full-time faculty is on the upswing.

“The reliance of universities on contingent faculty is dramatic. They have become the majority of faculty across the United States,” she said.

This is particularly true because tenured faculty are staying on the job longer — 20-plus years — and there is a lack of tenure track jobs. According to Allison, universities are converting tenure track positions to non-tenure-track once a faculty member retires — if the position is filled at all.

The real numbers of contingency

Allison brought her tale close to home — and underlined the discrepancy between the figures universities and colleges publicize and those their institutional research departments compile — by sharing the latest figures from the University of Akron’s Office of Institutional Research.

While UA admits to having 58 percent contingent faculty, UA’s official employee count shows that in 2012, 78 percent of its faculty was actually contingent or non-tenure track, which is above the national average.

That means that just 22 percent of the university’s total faculty on all campuses was full-time tenure track or tenured, according to Allison’s calculations.

She pointed out that 42 administrators and 21 librarians, both groups with faculty rank, are included in the tenure track total. However, both groups may teach occasionally or not at all.

Gender, race and contingency

“While gender and race are generally left out of the conversation, these are important factors

because universities and colleges have more women students and faculty,” noted Allison, whose doctoral research addresses gender inequality in higher education. Her specific focus is the growth of women’s participation in the adjunct and contingent labor force.

She shared the percentages of female students in colleges and universities nationwide during the 2007-2008 academic year:

April Freely of OPTFA  and Marisa Allison of NFMF

April Freely of OPTFA and Marisa Allison of NFMF

  • 62% associate degree programs
  • 57% bachelor’s degree programs
  • 61% master’s degree programs
  • 50% professional degree programs
  • 51% doctoral degree programs

Women make up a large percentage of part-time faculty, so the lack of equity in the higher education workplace hits them hard, Allison said.

At Ohio State University, for example, 35 percent of the faculty is tenured or tenure-track, while 65 percent is contingent. Of the total number of faculty, less than half, or 42 percent, are female. But when it comes to contingent faculty, it is clearly a woman’s world. Females comprise 72 percent of contingent faculty, according to the figures Allison provided.

Contingency and student outcomes

“Our working conditions are student learning conditions,” Allison noted, with pay inequities and poor working conditions affecting students as well as faculty.

Research shows that colleges and universities with a high percentage of contingent faculty have diminished graduation and retention rates, negative affects from early exposure to part-time faculty, and reduced student-faculty interaction. Those institutions also see a decline in graduation rates and lower GPAs, she said.

Allison cautioned that the negative affects on students are not because of the quality of part-time faculty, as “contingent faculty are some of the best and most-beloved faculty on campuses.” But the poor working conditions suffered by part-time faculty make it impossible for them to serve students well.

Tell us how your college or university is responding to the Affordable Care Act

If you are adjunct faculty at an Ohio college or university who has received an email, a letter Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 3.49.14 PMor some other communication informing you of your institution’s policy regarding the number of credit hours you will be permitted to teach in the future, we invite you to forward that information to the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association by emailing us at optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

The communication from your institution may or may not admit that the information being shared is in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates that as of Jan. 1, 2014, large employers must provide health insurance for employees who work 30 hours per week or more.

But the fact is that colleges and universities throughout the country are cutting the workloads of adjuncts in response to this new regulation, and their actions are contrary to the intent of the new law.

Determining work hours for adjunct faculty

Determining work hours presents another problem. A recent IRS ruling has determined “that failing to take into account grading and prep is not reasonable” when it comes to adding up employee hours.

Yet when calculating the number of hours that adjunct faculty spend in preparation for their courses and in grading student work, some institutions are applying a formula that is inappropriately standardized, according to Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority.

For all of these reasons, the OPTFA is collecting information about the response of Ohio institutions to the ACA. And we will take that data with us to Washington, D.C. for the April 23 hearing on this issue held by the IRS and the Treasury Department.

Ohio institutions respond to the ACA

ysu memoInitially, five Ohio institutions, Youngstown State UniversityStark State College in North Canton, Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Baldwin Wallace University and Kent State University, acted to limit the number of classes adjuncts can teach in order to ensure that the schools will not be mandated to provide health insurance for adjunct faculty. And other institutions are working to formulate a response to the ACA.

Additional institutions, the University of Akron and Cuyahoga Community College, have also communicated their intent to limit the number of courses adjunct faculty can teach, beginning in fall 2013.

Adjuncts at Stark State received a memo in which they were told that “in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.”

YSU is restricting part-time employees, including adjunct professors and lecturers, to 29 hours a week or less, according to an email sent to English department adjuncts. That translates to a maximum of a 12-credit course load per academic year.

As of July 1, part-time faculty loads at Lakeland will be adjusted “to comply with the requirements of the act,” according to a March 19, 2013, email sent to part-time faculty. And Kent State, where 65 percent of classes are taught by adjunct faculty, is limiting part-timers to 29 credits per academic year.

Baldwin-Wallace, which employs as many as 225 adjuncts a semester, held a recent meeting for department chairs at which the institutional response to the ACA was shared. As a result, adjuncts who teach in the English Department received a March 27 email stating that as of this fall, adjuncts will be limited to teaching “no more than 3 composition sections each semester…as a result of the coming of Obamacare, which requires that employers provide health benefits for any employees working 30 hours a week or more.”

At Sinclair Community College in Dayton, administrators estimate that health care costs could increase by up to $4.2 million if they provide health care benefits to the 423 part-time employees, including 191 adjuncts, who could qualify for coverage, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Other colleges around the state are seeking legal advice about how they should respond to ACA mandates. Cleveland State and the Northeast Ohio Medical University are among 11 tax-supported universities statewide that have asked the state attorney general to assign special counsel for health care, according to a recent story in the Akron Beacon Journal.

IRS collects public comments, will hold hearing; media respond

The Department of the Treasury and the IRS collected 380 comments on the issue of Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage (REG-138006-12) and will hold an April 23, 2013, public hearing on the matter as well, at which OPTFA and NFM will present the data we collect. A comment from David Wilder, Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee of OPTFA and comments from NFM were among the 380 collected.

Counting Adjuncts’ Hours,” a March 26 story in Inside Higher Ed, reported on two different proposals for counting faculty work hours. The American Council on Education, representing the nation’s nonprofit and public colleges, wants the work of adjuncts compared to that of non-tenure-track faculty. NFM argues that the fairer comparison is between tenure-track faculty and adjuncts because the latter often advise students and provide service to the institution.

An essay published in Inside Higher Ed on the same day asserts that, “More than two-thirds of the faculty providing instruction in nonprofit higher education are currently employed off the tenure track, and their numbers continue to rise.”

The authors call upon institutions to create new solutions to the problem of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty, because “our failure to acknowledge and address the changing faculty, we have made it unnecessarily difficult for a majority of the faculty to do their jobs.”

And in “Emotional Labor and Ethical Hiring Practices in Academia,” Gwendolyn Beetham makes a plea for ethical practices in academic hiring.

Ohio colleges’ and universities’ written responses to adjunct faculty about the Affordable Care Act
Updated 26 March 2013
Updated 27 March 2013
Updated 15 April 2013

Watch, comment on PBS broadcast on faculty

The PBS NewsHour story on faculty retirements and contingent faculty that aired last night is now available for viewing online.

The story included brief commentary about the plight of adjunct faculty, including footage of adjunct faculty member Joe Fruscione of the University of Maryland and George Washington University.

Afterward, this comment was posted by Paul Solman of PBS NewsHour:

“We were well aware of the process of “adjunctification” in higher education, regardless of age. That is a different story, one we very much intend to do. We have been corresponding with Maria Maisto about it. In fact, the correspondents in this thread may be of help. We found it difficult to find adjuncts willing to talk to us on camera. Joe, your cooperation made you a rare bird. Many we contacted were afraid of jeopardizing their already tenuous positions. Understandably. But this may a good venue for asking particularly “exploited” adjuncts to let us know if they are willing to be interviewed for the story we’re researching. To any of you who are willing: please contact us at businessdesk@newshour.org.”


PBS NewsHour focuses on faculty, contingent faculty tonight

There will be a PBS NewsHour story tonight on faculty retirements and contingent facultypbs newshour experiences.  Tune in and respond to the story — if PBS sees strong interest in the subject, they may do an additional story focused only on contingent faculty.


PBS NewsHour
Producer: MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
2700 South Quincy Street #250
Arlington, VA 22206
(703) 998-2138

Or post a comment via the PBS Viewer Services page.

Local stations with signals in Ohio include:

Watch full episodes online.

OPTFA and NFM support proposed state legislation to give adjunct faculty collective bargaining rights

Media Release

For Immediate Release

National and State Part-time Faculty Leaders Applaud
Introduction of New Legislation Facilitating Collective Bargaining for College Instructors in Ohio

Unionization will help students by improving the working conditions of their instructors, say faculty leaders

Contact:  David Wilder, Co-chair, OPTFA Organizing Committee (216-751-1278) or Maria Maisto, President, New Faculty Majority (216-262-4375)

Legislation introduced in the Ohio state legislature March 8, which would institute collective bargaining rights for adjunct faculty and graduate students, has the strong support  of New Faculty Majority (NFM), a national, nonprofit advocacy group for adjunct faculty, as well as the newly forming Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA).

Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) introduced identical legislation, House Bill 96 and Senate Bill 65, in an effort to give so-called “part-time” or “adjunct” faculty and graduate student employees the same right to negotiate their working conditions as full-time professors.

Current Ohio law does not recognize part-time faculty and graduate students as public employees for the purpose of collective bargaining.  This means that part-time faculty who wish to negotiate the conditions of their own employment may not petition the labor board to conduct an election to decide the question of union representation.  They also may not seek relief from the labor board if the public employer engages in unlawful practices.  That would change if the legislation introduced by Strahorn and Turner is approved.

Turner said she sees adjunct faculty as “a pivotal part of the fabric of higher education” who “need a seat at the table to ensure that they’re being treated fairly.”

Strahorn agreed, particularly since colleges and universities around the state rely on part-time faculty to teach as much as 80 percent of courses offered.

“Adjuncts and graduate assistants deserve to have the same rights as full time professors, especially with colleges and universities relying more heavily on these part time employees,” he said. “It is not fair or right to have these disparities in working conditions and benefits for people who do the same kind of work.”

The legislation Strahorn and Turner introduced simply says that part-time faculty should no longer be excluded from collective bargaining if they choose to organize for that purpose.

The legislation was lauded by Maria Maisto, a part-time faculty member at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, who co-founded and now leads New Faculty Majority and its affiliated Foundation, national nonprofit associations that seek to improve the quality of higher education by improving the working conditions of the majority of its faculty.

“Research demonstrates that students are more successful when they have faculty who are respected and whose working conditions are professional,” Maisto said. “Under the current model in Ohio, so-called ‘part-time’ faculty work has been transformed into full-time work for less-than part-time pay, and adjunct faculty are denied access to the basic tools and working conditions of their profession, such as computers, office space and access to health insurance, that the public would expect institutions to provide to faculty. It is women, people over the age of 45, and minorities who comprise the majority of this workforce. The least we can do for these educators is facilitate their ability to negotiate their own working conditions.”

David Wilder, who teaches at Cuyahoga Community College and John Carroll University and serves as co-chair of the organizing committee of the newly forming Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association, said, “We want equal protection under the law. We want equal pay for equal work. Like all workers, we need to open up the legal space to bargain collectively so we can begin to address the deterioration of pay and conditions that we all face. We will no longer accept being treated as nonentities, having no recognition granted to those we may choose as our representatives. Above all, we are serious about the work we do, and we intend to restore professional standards to higher education. Our poor working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.”

“Ohio’s colleges and universities have had decades to prove that faculty unions are not necessary, and frankly, they’ve failed,”  noted NFM’s vice president, Matt Williams, a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Akron.

NFM has helped to launch the new Ohio Part-time Faculty Association, connecting adjunct professors from Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Youngstown and Toledo thus far.

NFM and OPTFA leaders pointed out that the legislation would ultimately help to improve the academic and ethical quality of higher education, which could increase the value of college degrees in Ohio, a point of concern given skyrocketing tuition and student debt.

“Collective bargaining requires institutions to be more transparent and accountable for their financial decisions, and it’s time Ohio citizens knew how public colleges and universities are prioritizing how they spend students’ ever-increasing tuition payments,” Williams said.

Adjuncts typically earn an average annualized salary of $21,600 for teaching the maximum number of classes that research has shown to be acceptable without damaging the quality of education being offered.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with equivalent education, responsibility and experience average $65,000 per year.

Read more

Adjuncts learn how to apply for unemployment at March 20 webinar

Adjunct activism at the MLA

A number of New Faculty Majority members and other advocates have strengthened the Modern Language Association’s already leading role on behalf of the majority of the faculty over the last year. 2012-13 MLA president Michael Berube and executive director Rosemary Feal, new NFM members in 2012, kept contingency on the front burner throughout the year.

An unprecedented number of faculty members on contingent appointments were nominated for leadership positions; Berube made contingency the major theme of the 2013 Boston convention (including featuring an all-adjunct presidential panel); and the organization rolled out its powerful Workforce Data Center and helped unveil the Coalition on the Academic Workforce’s Contingent Faculty Salary Survey.

In an unprecedented collaboration, the radical caucus, the executive committee for the part-time faculty discussion group, and the committee on contingent labor in the profession collaborated to introduce a motion directing the organization to work even harder on behalf of the most vulnerable of their colleagues — which passed decisively on January 5, 115-1. Oh — and Michael’s reflections on our January 2012 summit inspired member Josh Boldt to start The Adjunct Project — and the rest, as they say, is history!

Note: This report appeared in Issue 3 of the New Faculty Majority E-Newsletter, published on Feb. 13, 2013.

Advance equity for adjuncts: Come to a February meeting of OPTFA

Help advance equity for adjuncts in Ohio by joining us for one of two February meetings of the newly formed Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association. Each meeting will follow the same agenda, so you can come to either session and get updated on the OPTFA and contribute your ideas to the discussion.

Meeting Dates and Times:
  • Sunday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. Chaired by April Freely of the University of Akron, co-chair of the OPTFA Organizing Committee
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, noon. Chaired by David Wilder of Tri-C and John Carroll University, co-chair of the OPTFA Organizing Committee

Meeting Location: the new office of New Faculty Majority and the OPTFA. The address is Copley Commons, 2830 Copley Rd., Suite 26, Copley, Ohio 44321.

Tentative Agenda:

  1. Introduction of Organizing Committee
  2. Establishment of OPTFA as statewide organization
  3. Discussion of priorities for the coming year

RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info. If you can’t make it to either meeting but would like to conference in via phone or computer, please let us know. We can make that happen.

Share the flyer: Download the event flyer to post in your department and share with your colleagues and friends.

Join the Organizing Committee: Freely and Wilder are looking for adjunct faculty throughout the state to join them as Organizing Committee members. Contact them at optfa@newfacultymajority.info if you would like to be involved.

Find out what happened at the initial meeting of OPTFA on Jan. 27.

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.