NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
ERIC Number: EJ989651
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Nov-5
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Adjuncts Build Strength in Numbers
June, Audrey Williams
Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 2012
When professors in positions that offer no chance of earning tenure begin to stack the faculty, campus dynamics start to change. Growing numbers of adjuncts make themselves more visible. They push for roles in governance, better pay and working conditions, and recognition for work well done. And they do so at institutions where tenured faculty, although now in the minority, are still the power brokers. The changing nature of the professoriate affects tenured and tenure-track faculty, too. Having more adjuncts does not provide the help they need to run their departments, leaving them with more service work and seats on more committees at the same time that research requirements, for some, have also increased. At many institutions with graduate programs, a shrinking number of tenured and tenure-track faculty members are left to advise graduate students--a task that typically does not fall to adjuncts. The shift can also affect students. Studies show that they suffer when they are taught by adjuncts, many of whom are good teachers but are not supported on the job in the ways that their tenured colleagues are. Many adjuncts do not have office space, which means they have no place on campus to meet privately with students. And some adjuncts themselves say their fears about job security can make them reluctant to push students hard academically. If students retaliate by giving them bad evaluations, their jobs could be in jeopardy. Many adjuncts are also cautious about what they say in the classroom, an attitude that limits the ways they might engage students in critical thinking and rigorous discussion. Some colleges have made progress in improving the work life of adjuncts. At Colorado State University at Fort Collins, nontenure-track English faculty members have gained representation on the literature committee, the composition committee, and the committee that hires faculty who work off the tenure track. Colorado State's English department has 47 full-time faculty members who are not on the tenure track. Nearly all of them teach four courses a semester, and they outnumber the tenured and tenure-track faculty by more than a dozen. Almost 20 years ago, the number of nontenure-track faculty in English was in the low single digits. Adjuncts who work in departments with a long history of using nontenure-track faculty can sometimes see the resulting connections lead to better working conditions and pay--more so than when adjuncts try to use their large numbers as leverage.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Colorado; Pennsylvania; Virginia