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Understanding the Contingent Academic Workforce / The Chronicle of Higher Education by Jason B. Jones

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Jun 22, 2012

by Jason B. Jones

Yesterday saw the release of "A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members," a new multiyear study from the Coalition on the Academic Workforce. Since contingent faculty make up the majority of the professoriate today, you'd like to think there was some good news in the study.

In reality, however, the news is bleak:

- Median pay per course in 2010 was $2,700. ($2,235 at two-year schools; $3400 at four-year doctoral or research schools).

- Pay doesn't correspond with credentials-wage premiums for better credentials within the contingent workforce are small; likewise, there's not much of a career ladder. And, of course, contingent faculty pay lags behind similarly-educated professionals in other fields.

- Part-time faculty have access to limited professional development, and are generally excluded from governance.

- Most part-time faculty teach in such positions for extended periods of time, and most would prefer a full-time appointment, if one were available.

As Robert Townsend noted on the AHA Today blog:

"These data are striking, but there's even more emotional impact contained in the Wordle text cloud used as visual at the front of the report (and in this post). It depicts the responses to an open question about the biggest challenges they face as contingent faculty. Not surprisingly, "job," "security," and "time" all stand out. But the most important word here is "lack"-as it's the absence of so many of these things that looms large. The dominance of the word "faculty" points to one of the largest recurring concerns from respondents, the perceived lack of collegiality and respect from many of their colleagues."

Read the rest of this article on Prof Hacker at The Chronicle of Higher Education

See the full survey report on contingent faculty at the Coalition on the Academic Workforce website

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