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What is "Contingent Academic Labor?"
What is "Contingent Academic Labor?" (Return to top)
During the first half of the twentieth century, the faculty in post-secondary education was composed of professionals, nearly all of whom were hired with an expectation of a mutual long-tem commitment between the institution and the faculty member. With the 1940 agreement between the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges, this commitment was expressed in a tenure or tenure-like employment relationship. Since mid-century a variety of short-term and part-time employment structures have emerged, sharing in common narrowing professional expectations and responsibilities usually limited to specific instructional duties. These non-tenure an non-tenure track employment structures are what have come to be termed "contingent academic employment," and they include various graduate student instructional and research assignments, other part-time faculty assignments off the tenure track, term appointments (usually on a yearly basis), and a rapidly growing number of FT term assignments with little or no formal commitment to future assignments. See "Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession" for more on this.
What does the Faculty Look Like and How is it Changing? (Return to top)
The following Data Table (modified slightly) was assembled by Ernest Benjamin which is available on-line at http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/58/07879722/0787972258.pdf
Table A. Changes in the Distribution of Faculty and Graduate Assistant Appointments, 1975–1995
Source:National Center for Education Statistics (1995,1998).The 1998 data are based on appendix
Why is the use of Contingent Professionals an Issue? (Return to top)
Post-secondary institutions claim that the use of contingent faculty provides program and budgetary flexibility, allowing them to keep courses open that might be closed due to unforeseen fiscal shortfall, and to add specialized curricula even though student demand is not sufficient for the long-term commitment of a tenure track position. This is certainly true. However, growth of contingent faculty employment, and the areas of primary appointments do not fit the arguments. In Fall 2002, The National Center for Education Statistics Reported on a statistical analysis of the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) 1998 data, available on-line and as a pdf at: http://nces.ed.gov/das/epubs/2002209/conclusions.asp
This study begins to answer the following questions:
Who teaches undergraduates in postsecondary institutions? (Return to top)
(From NSOPF:1999; "Teaching Undergraduates in U.S. Postsecondary Institutions: Fall 1998," NCES 2002-209) While 81% of full-time instructional faculty provided some form of instruction, only 74% taught classes, and only 71.3% of credit hours were assigned to full-time instructional faculty. Of full-time faculty, 28% were off the tenure track and generally taught a higher percentage of undergraduate classes. Also, in four-year institutions, 71.4% of part-time faculty reported teaching only undergraduate credit classes while the number for full-time faculty was 58.2%.
One should note that, of full-time tenured and tenure track faculty who did report teaching at least one undergraduate credit course, 78.4% also reported having one or more teaching assistants, while only 32.7 of full-time non-tenure track faculty reported having teaching assistants.
It is also interesting to note that, of all faculty in four year institutions, 67.9% of female faculty reported teaching exclusively undergraduates while 59.7% males reported similarly.
How much do various types of faculty employees teach? (Return to top)
There are large differences in teaching load between various types of institutions but the comparative Fall 1998 data for undergraduate credit hours of instruction taught by various full-time teaching faculty classifications is instructive. (From NSOPF:1999; "Teaching Undergraduates in U.S. Postsecondary Institutions: Fall 1998," NCES 2002-209)
*The survey only reported on loads of up to 5 classes per week. Since 7% of faculty reported teaching more than 5, this data probably underestimates the actual differences between average loads of the various types of faculty.
What do various types of faculty employees teach, or otherwise do?(Return to top)
You will note that the "principal activities" do not add up to 100%. This data leaves out NSOPF:99 category for "other activities which includes clinical service, on sabbatical from this institution, technical activities, other institutional activities such as library services, community public service, subsidized performer, and artist-in-residence. (From NSOPF:1999; "Background Characteristics, ... " NCES 2001-152)
*All public and private, not-for-profit Title IV participating, degree-granting institutions in the 50 states and the District of
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