• September 20, 2014

Adjunct Faculty Members Feel Left Out of White House's Community-College Summit

Days before the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges is set to take place, concerns are being raised that adjunct faculty members are not well represented at the gathering.

Adjunct faculty members and advocacy organizations say the summit cannot seriously address the nation's college-completion goals without significant and direct input from the non-tenure-track instructors who make up most of the professoriate.

Summit organizers have said that others attending the meeting, such as former community-college instructors, would represent adjuncts' issues. But that is not good enough, current adjuncts and their advocates say, because those individuals are too far removed from the everyday experience of teaching in today's classrooms.

Earlier this week, the White House sent out a list of invited participants, which included a corporate CEO, college presidents, and military leaders. There was no mention of a faculty member, other than Jill Biden, who is a community-college instructor and the summit's lead organizer.

On Thursday, the American Association of University Professors sent  an e-mail to its members questioning how the summit can have a "full discussion of the challenges and opportunities involved in reaching the nation's educational goals" without including those who actually teach community-college students.

The e-mail encourages members to contact the White House and make their voice heard.

For its part, the White House said it would never exclude faculty members from the summit, which will be held Tuesday.

Courtney O'Donnell, the communications director for Ms. Biden's office, said that "given the critical role that faculty play in the lives of students at community colleges," both the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers were invited to participate. Representatives from the two organizations are scheduled to attend the summit, she said.

Ms. O'Donnell also said that both full-time and part-time faculty members will participate in the conference. However, she would not provide an exact number of part-time faculty members attending and would not release names because of privacy concerns.

Martha J. Kanter, U.S. under secretary of education, said that space constraints limited the number of individuals who could be invited to between 100 to 150, but that faculty members would be represented and have a chance to contribute to the discussions during breakout sessions.

"The White House took special steps to reach out to all stakeholders," she said. "We will be listening to all voices."

The Front Lines

President Obama announced the summit in March, but details about the event were not released until mid-September. In the past week, it has surfaced that various individuals, including college presidents and students, received invitations to the summit.

That is also when Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national advocacy group for adjuncts, began to notice that adjunct faculty members were not getting invitations.

Ms. Maisto, who teaches English at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio, said she is baffled over why the faculty is not playing a more-significant role in the discussion. She is especially troubled by the fact that Ms. Biden, an effusive supporter of community colleges, would leave the adjunct faculty's voice out of the summit.

"Who is at the heart of community colleges? Students and faculty," Ms. Maisto said. "Ms. Biden understands that and is eloquent on that relationship. That is why this is so puzzling."

It was clear early on that adjunct faculty members wanted to play a significant role in the event. A blog set up by the White House to elicit suggestions for the summit was quickly inundated by comments from community-college instructors. Most of the suggestions made it clear that the summit had to include their voice because they are the ones on the front lines of educating community-college students.

Adjunct faculty members said only they can convey the complexity of teaching the varied student population usually found at two-year institutions.

Numerous blog suggestions advocated for better pay and working conditions. Many adjuncts work part time, travel from campus to campus, and are paid less than full-time professors on the tenure track. Adjunct faculty members said those types of working conditions can negatively affect students (part-time instructors sometimes have a hard time meeting with students about their work), especially at a time when the Obama administration has set its sights on increasing the number of Americans with college degrees.

Nsé Ufot, government relations officer at the American Association of University Professors, said it is unlikely that anyone other than an adjunct faculty member would bring up that topic at the summit.

Comments

1. hoppingmadjunct - September 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm

"It is unlikely that anyone other than a faculty member would bring up" the topic of inequitable working conditions for adjunct faculty members because silence on that topic is how those conditions have become so entrenched. And since faculty working conditions are student learning conditions, let alone graduation rates, they need a prime spot on the agenda at this summit.

2. pdhazard - October 01, 2010 at 05:47 am

The disgraceful absence of peonized adjuncts from that conference fulfills Ronald Reagan's fatuous brag that he made it possible for Americans to be rich again. And Pat Buchanan recently OpEdified that hiring minorities was succumbing to the "egalite" plank in the French Revolution that led monarchy and nobles to the guillotine, as if 500 to 1 disparities between executive and worker pay was somehow a punishing execution of the ric. Our Casino Capitalism which motivates our Wall Street connivers to bet on losing mortgages is simply sick. As long as individual greed outpoints community charity, we're sliding into a tragic fall. The middle class that the New Deal nourished has been dumped by outsourcing. Those $100,000+ professors who thrive off the white slavery of the adjuncts, a disgraceful trahison des clercs, will do US all in. Walt Whitman would be rightly appalled.Patrick D. Hazard, Weimar, Germany.

3. wilkenslibrary - October 01, 2010 at 07:25 am

In my view, the most fundamental problem to be solved concerning adjunct faculty is the funding of community colleges.

We serve the neediest of students (academically and economically), yet we are funded less per-student than any other sector of public higher education. Solve that problem, and I don't know a single administrator who wouldn't first spend the funds to increase the number of full-time faculty and increase compensation and benefits for what would then be a proportionally reduced part-time faculty.

I believe the Summit is an opportunity to press hard on that issue, and every one of us who labor in community colleges should demand that this issue be addressed first. Yes, we urgently need to increase graduation and success rates. But that will not possible to the degree needed so long as community college funding remains woefully inadequate.

Kathleen Schatzberg, President
Cape Cod Community College

4. duchess_of_malfi - October 01, 2010 at 07:57 am

Just days ago, in an interview about the high cost of college, Obama reminded faculty that "their primary job is to teach." Why ask for information from people who do that when it is so much less messy to tell them how to do it, I suppose.

5. bconnolly2263 - October 01, 2010 at 08:16 am

Did anyone think the current administration was truly interested in hearing about and solving the Community College problems? Simply another piece of feel good media to secure votes for an upcoming doomed election...

6. rear_view_mirror - October 01, 2010 at 08:32 am

"Summit organizers have said that others attending the meeting, such as former community-college instructors, would represent adjuncts' issues."

Here's what they'll say:
1. Adjuncts like their jobs and compensation, or they would have left.
2. Adjuncts use teaching as a second job, and live comfortably with benefits from another source.
3. Adjuncts are second rate educators and shouldn't be consulted on matters of education.
4. Adjuncts aren't doing it for the money.

pdhazard: perhaps it's relevant to mention Reagan, but it is today's liberals who derive their wealth from the underclass.

7. erc38 - October 01, 2010 at 08:36 am

the reason why adjuncts were underrepresented is that they do not want them to get to know one another and network, which could have labor relations consequences for the institutions that expoit them. part-time faculty of the world unite!

8. rear_view_mirror - October 01, 2010 at 08:40 am

erc38 Too busy grading papers to attend. Sorry.

9. tenstring - October 01, 2010 at 08:48 am

Not surprising that adjuncts aren't included among the "stakeholders." Full-time faculty need someone to feel superior to, and adjuncts are, on the whole, like many American workers, intimidated. They're fearful of being told, "sorry, we don't have any classes for you to teach this semester," should they advocate for their own interests.

10. impossible_exchange - October 01, 2010 at 08:54 am

Folks in power, like Obama, want to believe in their special merit.
But the truth is no one is all that special.

11. rear_view_mirror - October 01, 2010 at 09:10 am

"Many adjuncts work part time, travel from campus to campus, and are paid less than full-time professors on the tenure track."
Errors:
1. All adjuncts are considered part-time. That's what it means.
2. All are paid less than full time TT.
This article is written in such a way as to make adjuncts look like pathetic people who won't help themselves.
"Adjunct faculty members said those types of working conditions can negatively affect students (part-time instructors sometimes have a hard time meeting with students about their work)..."
I'm always hearing that we fail to put students first. Certainly many do. But nobody, ever, puts adjuncts even on a par with janitorial staff. Adjuncts are the only ones required to put students first.
You should be able to say "those types of working conditions are unjust."
Smart thing to do: write a letter to Jill Biden and get it signed by all the teachers you know.

12. pdhazard - October 01, 2010 at 09:25 am

Dear Rear View Mirror: I urge you to look ahead! Accepting the stereotype of the characteristic Humanist professor (of which I was one,a fully tenured full prof for 27 of my 30 years),I consider the slick slavery of the megaprof battening off of adjuncts as contemtible treachery. It's why I quit teaching to free lance for alternative media. If you wonder how, read my blog,www.myglobaleye.blogspot.com.,or read my essays in the website of The Philadelphia University of The arts at www.broadstreetreview.com. There's more than one way to "teach" in a multimedia world. Patrick D. Hazard, Weimar,Germany.

13. jomiller - October 01, 2010 at 09:40 am

As a community college dean in the School of Health Sciences, I realized long ago that the reasons the health programs enjoyed much, much higher retention and graduation rates than the non-health programs at my college were because we have a higher ratio of full-time faculty to student; we have smaller cohorts of students, all of whom have contact with one or more full-time faculty; our students nearly always must compete for the limited seats available, so the best academic performers are selected; and we are held to high outcome measurements by programmatic accreditation agencies.

Improving retention and graduation involves more full-time faculty involvement; having students who have been remediated or prepared to the college level in reading, writing, and math; and frequently assessing student progress in core content areas, with feedback to the student and opportunities for remediation.

Adjunct faculty are valuable and necessary. Their voices should be heard. However, it is the presence and involvement of full-time faculty who are charged with the responsibility of graduating students who are successful in their careers that has the most impact.

14. jagran2852 - October 01, 2010 at 09:43 am

I was an adjunct for 9 years in the less than supportive state of Colorado. The only time that the administration cared about adjuncts was the week before Fall and Spring semesters to see if all classes were covered. They didn't even invite us to the "Faculty Meetings" since the state didn't list us as "faculty" but as "instructors." I went anyway to make myself known, representing the "Part-time Faculty." One effective method to get the administrations across the country to pull their collective heads out would be a national "sick day" for all adjuncts. Let's see how many schools would shut their doors if the full time faculty had to cover the classes. It would make the "all caring" legislators pay attention, too!
As far as a national summit on community colleges a month out from mid-term elections, adjuncts would be better off going to the UN for support! A typical political ploy to prove their "timely" support every election cycle.

15. 11209892 - October 01, 2010 at 10:17 am

There are many adjuncts that are dedicated to the success of their students and institutions. There are many more who are not vested in this fashion. If you are going to improve teaching and learning you have to hire the dedicated adjuncts to more economic/professionally stable positions.

To Jomiller. With many CC having 75% of their instructional facutly as part time, I think the adjunct may be more involved with the graduation and retention rates than you think.

16. mmlynch - October 01, 2010 at 10:20 am

To Comment #13: Adjunct faculty would prefer to be either full-time or to receive authentically pro-rata compensation for their "part-time" work. It's not a question of choosing between full and part-time faculty; it's a question of compensating and including all faculty appropriately. Then you will see more of the kind of results you describe.

17. 11209892 - October 01, 2010 at 10:42 am

If you are going to improve teaching and learning you have to hire the dedicated adjuncts to more economic/professionally stable positions.

Just a follow up on this comment, yes I know hiring the dedicated requrires more money and benefits etc... We adjuncts really go the extra mile for our students and our colleges (at least I do) and it seems to me if I am willing to invest time (and yes money) for my students, then it seems to me more than fair for the colleges to do the same.

18. trterry - October 01, 2010 at 10:48 am

No one wants to deal with the reality of adjuncts and what can be called "the adjunct market".

Not to put too fine a point on it, given the state of the job markets for PhD's in most fields, especially in the non-hard science & technology fields, for the last 15 or more years, why have people continued to spend time, money, and lost opportunity costs getting PhD's?

Obviously, there have been many motivations but from an economic point of view getting a PhD in most fields has been the same as learning how to snow ski or cast a fly rod -- not for vocational purposes but for avocational purposes.

The irrevokable law is that "the market will always clear!" The price keeps going down and down until the market clears. That is what is going on, the market is clearing. Stop fighting it.

If and when putative graduate students face reality and get out of these oversupplied markets the supply will dry up, the prices will go up, and the markes will clear at that higher price.

Adjuncts: "You knew what you were getting into when you did it, you bought it, you paid for it, its yours. Stop bitching, moaning and complaining. There were once big markets for skilled and talented linen weavers, buggy whip makers, and wheel wrights. Should a market have been maintained at a living wage because these jobs required training and talent, were fulfilling, and required some artistic talent? Society's defination and support of music and the (traditional) arts does not extend very far and definately not to excess PhD's in other fields."

When the "powers that be" opened the gates to let adjuncts teach regular courses the die was cast. Trying to close the gates now looks like petty bitching and greed. If the accrediting agencies turned up the heat and said "no adjuncts, accredited"; "adjuncts, not accrediting" the problem would be solved but it is too late for that.

T R Terry, Jr.
trterry@gmail.com

19. pamelatodoroff - October 01, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hey. Let's return the focus to the Obama/Biden summit. I say, "Shame on Dr. Biden!" She should know better than to permit the marginalizing of adjunct faculty at a summit of community college education ostensibly created to advance the goals of increasing college completion rates and improving the educational climate. If they have room for "military leaders" then please explain why they don't appear to have room for representatives of those of us who teach more students than any other group in the academe??

At the very least there should be a formal invitation to Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority (NFM), to represent us at the summit. (I'm a member of the NFM and encourage others to join as well.) Obama/Biden apparently need to be reminded about their best intentions and encouraged to use every available resource to accomplish their own goals. Adjuncts are not only one of the best voices regarding the challenges facing post secondary education in this country, they also exist as a valuable (but untapped) resource toward a solution.

20. missoularedhead - October 01, 2010 at 11:20 am

I'd like to note that what bothers me is that so few faculty of any stripe are included in this summit. Yes, there are differences between TT and adjunct/contingent faculty, to be sure. But with the exception of Jill Biden, is there anyone on the list of invited participants that actively teaches? Sure, there are administrators who might have taught at one point, but we all know that's the Dark Side. :-)

Look, we can talk until we're blue in the face about who does what for students. What matters here is that what community colleges need is on the table. And to my mind, we need the following (I say we, because I'm an adjunct):

1. better state and federal funding
2. a better ratio of adjunct and full-time faculty
3. a better path between adjuncting and full time positions
4. a clearer delineation of tracks for students

What I mean by that last one is that by definition, we are supposed to serve the community. That means students trying to get their gen eds in to transfer to four year schools, students who are there for professional certification, and students who are taking a class because it sounded interesting. While we do a great job with the first, that last is problematic, because when that student doesn't 'graduate', we get dinged. But they never intended to graduate, just enrich their lives. Do you really think the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has anything valuable to say on the subject? Probably not.

So why aren't faculty represented better. We ARE the community colleges. If not for us, students wouldn't be able to learn, and administrators would have no purpose.

21. wilkenslibrary - October 01, 2010 at 11:50 am

Only a few of these comments have focused on the actual topic of this article: the participant list for the "summit," the lack of transparency in how people were chosen, and the apparent exclusion of contingent faculty at the table.

Earlier this week, Courtney O'Donnell announced on her blog that the summit planners were "thrilled that we will be joined by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William Green, Chairman and CEO of Accenture, Eduardo Padron, President of Miami Dade College, Ted Carey, President of the Student Association of Community Colleges and other students, educators and leaders from across the country."

Reading this list, I (and many others who wrote in to the summit blogs) was struck by the absence of those of us at the center of public higher ed, the faculty, and, more specifically, contingent faculty. It would be appropriate for those on the list to listen to what we have to say, so that they could benefit from our knowledge of the depth and breadth of the challenges we face. It was apparent, though, that people not actively involved in educating our students would be the main speakers at this summit.

It sounds tremendously disingenuous to say that "space constraints" account for the lack of invitations to contingent faculty. Having been to academic and union conferences in DC, I know that there is ample meeting space across the city for thousands of participants. The reluctance to release the names of the contingent faculty because of "privacy concerns" seems equally strange since the proceedings are going to be streamed for wide viewing. Were I a participant, I would not feel the need for anonymity.

The central issue at this moment is not the over-supply and over-use of contingent faculty at our nation's community colleges. Those are topics for the summit. The questions we should be asking first concern the lack of transparency in a selection process that made it possible for the organizers to ignore the central participants in community college education: the teachers. It is obvious that, in the minds of the summit organizers, adjuncts are peripheral to the October 5 discussion. How can we avoid this bias in what must be on-going discussions in the months and years to come?

Betsy Smith
Adjunct Professor of ESL
Cape Cod Community College

22. archman - October 01, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I doubt that anything significant or useful will come out of this summit. It seems more of something put together for Jill Biden to participate in. I mean really, when you hear reports like "...but details about the event were not released until mid-September" do you think that anyone is taking this seriously?

I predict that after the CHE writes up an obligatory follow-up of the summit meeting, those of us that were even aware of it will immediately forget it.

I second that the heaad of the New Faculty Majority should be invited. Not only that, she should be a keynote speaker. Now *that* would be progress in helping community college success rates, reforming adjunct labour.

23. walkerst - October 01, 2010 at 12:41 pm

The adjuncts aren't represented? Yes, that's dreadful. But there's another glaring omission - or at least, it's glaring to those of us who are part of another all-too-frequently overlooked constituency, librarians. Librarians at many community colleges have faculty status, but whether they do or not, they are regularly left out of any gatherings where the future of academe is discussed. Yet librarians can and do make major contributions - witness the rise in attempts to integrate information literacy instruction into the curriculum, and numerous other initiatives. The American Library Association has been trying to get even one librarian invited to say a few words at this, without success. I can't tell you the number of academic conferences I've attended where I was the only librarian participating - and where people were surprised to gain something useful from a librarian's perspective. The same thing has happened to several of my colleagues, and one Education Librarian turned out to be so valuable to the teacher-focused education conference she attended that she has been invited back as a speaker for the last 3 years. What are we, chopped liver? Why is it always so hard to get attention, and why are people surprised when we have something to contribute? Mercifully, at my own institution, library faculty are valued, and we have made numerous contributions to support the teaching and learning and research of the entire community. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Now, if only we could be heard elsewhere, and spread the word about what a resource librarians can be to the entire college community.

24. johnwager - October 01, 2010 at 04:07 pm

At least the summit will include faculty! At the community college where I teach, ALL "stakeholders" are treated as important, including support staff. This results in hiring committees that might consist of two faculty members (neither one of whom teaches in the subject of the job candidate), two support staff (including perhaps someone who delivers A/V equipment and perhaps a receptionist), and two administrators (neither of which might be directly responsible for that future faculty member).

Where are the building and grounds representatives at the summit?

Where are the administrative assistants?

25. pamelaj55 - October 01, 2010 at 04:08 pm

walkerst, would like to correpond with you about "if only we could be heard elsewhere, and spread the word about what a resource librarians can be to the entire college community."

would you email me please? editor (at) cpfa.org

Thanks! pamelaj

26. olivia55 - October 01, 2010 at 04:42 pm

The summmit definitely needs to have at least a handful of adjunct faculty in attendance. Even though many of us, myself included, at one time or another have found ourselves stuck in the position of adjunct, we can not and should not dare to presume to represent the concerns of our colleagues at this summit. Get a clue, White House! If we are to be inclusive, we cannot exclude others for the sake of convenience. I can't imagine what sort of strain adding a few people could possibly represent to the planners of this event.

27. drtrevithick - October 01, 2010 at 05:23 pm

does this work?

28. more_cowbell - October 01, 2010 at 05:25 pm

The sad truth is that policymakers and politicians only have the time and ear for university admin, not teachers. This goes rrespective of whether they are tenured profs or adjuncts. Faculty are lucky to have been invited at all which, I remind, was after the event was organized.

29. drtrevithick - October 01, 2010 at 05:32 pm

Archman-love that idea. Now, to Kathleen Schatzberg, Cape Cod CC president. I gather you are sincere, but there is a big problem here. The exploitation of adcon labor began 30 or more years ago, and the people who could have and should have pushed back from the beginning didn't. So now, what will the historically apathetic parties do? I mean senior administrators. Many of them, of course eagerly latched onto adcons as a solution to some of the money problems of colleges and universities. And many labor groups. Some unions now are trying, I think in good faith, to catch up, but they didn't get a good head start. And, most sadly, regular tenured faculty in general. What will they do now? Some soul searching is obviously in order. And then a new action plane. And that new action plan cannot be - so sad that we have no money otherwise we would love to help. One thing is obvious and that is that adcons must be much more energetic in advocating for equity. No one else will do it for them. Have a look at newfacultymajority.info. Everybody welcome to join. Everybody. Full disclosure, I am an active member of that group. Dr. Alan Trevithicl, adjunct, Fordham University and Westchester Community College.

30. weilunion - October 01, 2010 at 05:39 pm

the issue is very clear. Adjunct faculty, like myself, are part of the growing movement to turn teachers into Wal Mart associates. This has been going on for years and the lack of transparency and discolsure for this summit is evidence that adjunct faculty concerns are not of interest to the ruling class of this country bent on reducing the cost of educational labor as they begin allowing for the full Monty privatization o higher education as they are doing in K-12. See my article at Truthout.com on the for-profit predaory colleges.

Do not be surprised if campus closings begin. Already my junior college is like a morgue on Thursdays and Fridays when all the buildings are locked down. and as for tenured community college professors, well they will see a further spike in their poisitions for the movement amongst the whispers is that State Colleges will be clsoed and a two-tiered system put into place. You will have community colleges and the for-profit predatory colleges (The Redlight District of Higher Education) for the poor and returning vets. The corridors of power must be packed with those that come from the UC systems in CA, Yale, Harvard and the like. These seats are expensive, $50,000 per year for Harvard now, so the ruling class will get them. The other seats are sold to the newly burgeoning Asian communities overseas for they pay out of state residency fees. This is the target 'market' for the high ened schools now.

Yes, the adjunct will continue to work out of his/her car and spend lonely nights under a 'green lightbulb' laboring on line with phony cyber education. Soon, the cyber education will be pre-packaged for the competition with the for-profits means the public community colleges must cut down on the dispensation of curriculum. Panoptic control will be the vicious underbelly of the 'adjunct' or perhaps we will be renamed 'crew leaders'.

There is no teaching profession anymore just a collection of injured souls on 1099 forms. And the pensions and benefits of the adjunct? Even you are grinning now, right?

Until we see that fighting for public education means fighting capitalism as a system itself, we will begin to move towards the model in Britain. There, most of the public sector, most ALL of it, is now owned by foreign transnational corpoarations. Some are in Dubai, others in China or India.

We will see all our jobs outsourced along with all of our social strcuture unless we organize a working class movement to challenge, as is going on now in Eurpoe but blacked out on corporate TV and Radio on the US, the oligarchy that seeks to privatize everything from the seeds on earth to education. Fighting for public education has always been part of the economic struggles of working people and we must now ally with all unions everywhere if we are to stop the lucid madness that the billionaires and the financial corporations have for us.

Soon, we will be marginalized and thus the word 'adjunct' won't hunt. 'Marginalized' dispenaraies of corporate culture and economics will be the role of education. Obedience and training centers will replace community college curriculums. Don't be surprised if they revisit the 60 units to transfer rule and find that 'liberal arts' or philosophy and history, can just be removed as ar requirement.

this is the Age of Irrationality. We fight it, or die.

Danny Weil

31. drtrevithick - October 01, 2010 at 05:40 pm

I am very sorry I forgot to add that I'm in total solidarity with the librarians, who are too often left out of these discussions even as politicians and CEO's and that ilk cry great croco-tears and or bellow about loss of competitiveness due to lack of analytical skills and sophistication with data, or whatever the flavor of the week is for them...
Librarians have been sharing, unfortunately, in all of the sorts of struggles adcons have suffered.

32. weilunion - October 01, 2010 at 05:44 pm

http://www.truth-out.org/neoliberalism-and-for-profit-predatory-educational-industry-you-cant-regulate-a-criminal-enterprise6

I forgot to post the Truthout.com site for you to read about the for profit predatory colleges who now are snaking their way into public community colleges for the enrollment is rising so fast and the amount of seats cannot. See show Jack Scott attempted to outsource teaching to Kaplan College, the Blood Bank for the Washington Post traded as WOP. 20% of the stock is owned by Warren Buffet and 62% of all revenue to the corporations is from predatory Kaplan, a criminal enterprise.

Be well

Danny

33. rear_view_mirror - October 02, 2010 at 10:00 am

On the other hand, is being left out of another Obama dog and pony show such a bad thing? Obama wants more college graduates. We've already got too many students, according to many educators, and too much of the idea that everyone should be in college. Now the government will be more involved in tracking the progress of students and finding better ways to evaluate success in education. How many things are improved when the government gets more involved, one may ask? Money will be thrown at the situation, most of it paid to consultants and revising loan arrangements, no matter what adjuncts are heard saying.
If they can hold a summit like this without inviting adjuncts, then they could just as easily invite 100 adjuncts and pretend to listen to them.
One thing that all politicians of both parties agree on is that cheap academic labor is one thing that is working just fine and should be left alone. You can't win an election by saying you improved education by paying more to people at the bottom because it's the right thing to do.
Better to stay home and organize at your workplace?

34. alleyoxenfree - October 02, 2010 at 01:01 pm

Why stay home and organize?

Why not a counter-summit in Lafayette Park, organized by adjunct professors - and any TT professors who dare to support them?

35. deleuzean - October 02, 2010 at 02:48 pm

As LIS adjunct faculty (and a former librarian) I agree with walkerst!

I also think this meeting would have been a perfect opportunity to discuss the Stafford student loan fiasco. How can adjuncts take full advantage of benefits under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 if working under contingent, part time conditions?!

36. su_jj - October 03, 2010 at 10:16 am

I truly resent the moniker part-time. We are contract faculty, and salaried employees. For those of you who do not know what that means we don't punch a clock; we are hired to do a job. My own results in a 6-7 days a week, work week. I put in 60 hours a week on average, yet inthe end am paid less than a K-12 teacher's starting salary. I am expected, if I want a decent raise to do research, publish, win awards, advise, offer service to the university, and yet guess what? At my own school I am looked down upon for being such an idiot as to do the work I do for what I get paid. I know all about schools that build big buildings, pay high salraies to the special peple, mostly high level administrators, and on whose back is this feat accomplished? Ours. If we were paid what we were worth, all that magic could not be possible. We are often crammed into the worst classrooms, offices, cubbyholes possible while some enjoy their panoramic view. Justice if it were to prevail would have summits like these occur with proportional representation of all stakeholders.

37. rear_view_mirror - October 03, 2010 at 10:37 am

"Justice if it were to prevail would have summits like these occur with proportional representation of all stakeholders."
So when summits like these occur without proportional representation, it means the people having the summit don't want justice.
The reason not many "regular" faculty have been invited is that then you should invite adjuncts also. the bases are covered.

38. gplm2000 - October 04, 2010 at 11:57 am

Thanks for the laugh PDHazard! I needed the comic relief: "The disgraceful absence of peonized adjuncts from that conference fulfills Ronald Reagan's fatuous brag that he made it possible for Americans to be rich again." Then: "I consider the slick slavery of the megaprof battening off of adjuncts as contemtible treachery. It's why I quit teaching to free lance for alternative media." Gosh, who knew?

Adjuncts are part time workers whose employment is at-will and who are usually paid less than full time workers, i.e. WalMart or a university. One does not have to work at either place if he/she does not like their status or pay. What is the problem here?

39. archman - October 04, 2010 at 02:16 pm

Oh my. Some of us really do have no idea how the adjunct system operates, and have been living in fantasty-land.

Here is a synopsis. Colleges that rather than hire a small cadre of full time instructors (thus under labour laws eligible for full time benefits), deliberately select to hire a large cadre of part-time instructors (with no benefits) instead.

The university does not allow their part-time labour force to become full time. This saves them a TON of money, and still maintains student enrollments.

To use the Wal-Mart analogy, this would be the equivalent of not being allowed to work 20 hours per week at any one Wal-Mart, nor at K-Mart and Target. To eke out a full-time workload therefore, one would have to moonlight at multiple job sites.

And these people STILL would not be eligible for any full-time benefits.

40. rear_view_mirror - October 04, 2010 at 09:10 pm

gplm2000: PDHazard exaggerates to make a point. It's not slavery. In some cases it qualifies as treachery, as when administrators hint or state to a new adjunct hire that there may be a full time opening coming.
"What's the problem?" The answer is not only in the article you didn't read, it is in your post. Adjuncts aren't invited to the summit.

41. kmellendorf - October 05, 2010 at 09:35 am

Faculty, both adjunct and full-time, are missing a very important concept: network. When I was part-time, many of the part-time faculty were at odds with each other. Many were at odds with full-time. So long as a group remains in such a state, nothing will happen. Part-time do not have to become violent and rebelious. Part-timers need to see each other as partners in the goal to educate. Part-timers have to seek out the full-timers, regardless of subject taught, that also want to be partners. You cannot do it alone!

42. teachingisfun - October 05, 2010 at 10:04 am

Educational institutions are depending on adjunct faculty, but do not give raises. We are saving a great deal of money, but we need to be paid fairly. One institution I adjunct for gives full-time faculty raises almost every year, but the pay for adjuncts has not been raised for years. They are already saving benefits and we are being paid more than half less than full-time faculty so WHY do the purse strings seem to be closed? I would love to teach full-time, but jobs are not opening up due to the economy. I am not sure that it will get much better when the economy improves because colleges are saving a bundle and will continue using adjuncts. Please give us raises!

43. gflanagan - October 05, 2010 at 10:08 am

Another "lowly" adjunct here. I can only concur with the majority opinion and add that this marginalization is multiplied ten-fold for the "online" instructor. While every institution of higher-learning has such a division, and they are frequently staffed with adjunct faculty, no one thinks to hire a "full-time" online instructor. I carry the "allowable" load (just one course under the full-time load), all the while knowing that every semester my courses fill to overflowing in the early stages of registration, and I could carry the full-load and then some. I designed the courses I teach, they are internally QM certified, and I spend 10 hours every day interacting and monitoring progress. Yet, since there is "no such thing" as full-time online, "the union would complain," etc., I will toil in silence and watch sadly as some full-time instructors dabble in the online environment with little effect. Teaching online requires a very specific skill-set, and just like I may not possess the skill-set necessary for the FTF class environment and prefer teaching online, there are instructors who overwhelmingly prefer the FTF environment and have no interest in teaching in my arena. Perhaps on a go-forward basis administrators will consider creating two distinct divisions (onsite and online) and hiring full-time faculty in each. This way, committees can be made up of faculty who are specialized, and also have a clue about the specific requirements of each venue. It will also give the "lowly" adjunct two avenues to pursue the elusive Holy Grail - full-time employment.

44. goldiethal - October 05, 2010 at 11:00 am

Thank-you for this excellent posting. As an adjunct faculty teacher for 20 years, this article struck a chord. We who work as adjunct faculty are akin to migrant labor. Without our servitude and that of the grad student teaching pool, the whole community college and university system in this country would collapse. Ah yes, we get on our hands and knees, beg and grovel to the great ones who teach 2 or 3 classes a year, if that. From semester to semester, we worry how we shall keep and find positions while the great ones place their next scholarly "brick" onto the crumbling skeleton we call academe. And of course as it has been said we work tirelessly for little pay and the answer is-- "oh well. . " All of this is known and accepted and it leaves much to be desired on the ethical front. What virtue is there in the great academy when we who teach with passion remain invisible to them. When I was a grad student I won a much coveted teaching award at our university but learned quickly that teaching was neither recongnized by the academy nor well regarded by the tenured faculty. In fact, my mentor said to me, in a most serious and hideous way, "Dear whatever you do don't put the teaching award in your resume. Teaching well is not something to be admired, after all it means that you're not writing if you're so gung ho and invested in the classroom." So it is no wonder to me or any of us reading this that we adjuncts are not represented at this Washington summit. We are their dirty little secret.
Deborah Kaye

45. saswriter - October 05, 2010 at 11:36 am

This (the quote above from Deborah Kaye's "mentor") is one big reason I'm happy to take my little master's degree and years of both adjunct and full-time teaching experience (perfect for becoming a Wal-Mart greeter, I'm sure) and go back into my original field.
Higher education institutions--community colleges, four-year universities, it doesn't matter--are such fiefdoms. They can turn perfectly good people into cynical, greedy and politically motivated lords and ladies who think they're intellectually superior to anyone without a Ph.D. or fancy title in front of his or her name.
Sure, the same thing can happen in many fields, but at least the snobbery isn't cloaked in condescension, a disguise for their own job insecurity.
I say this not only from my experience but from the experience of my former university professor brother (who quit teaching and started two successful businesses) and my former university dean brother-in-law.
I heard about political shenanigans at the university all my life but didn't believe it until I lived it myself.
Adjuncts feel forced to "lie low" or lose work, and their voices are not valued by the powers that be, no matter their education or professional backgrounds.
I wish my adjunct friends well. They deserve much better treatment; their teaching is as good as or better than that of many full-timers.

46. saswriter - October 05, 2010 at 11:40 am

I wanted to add that at the community college where I last taught, several of my adjunct colleagues were retired teachers, meaning they bring more teaching experience to entry level courses than recent Ph.D.'s or the grad students hired to teach entry level courses at local four-year universities.
Their being retired didn't mean they didn't need the money.
I hope anyone who generalizes about adjuncts will keep this in mind.
I realize most people responding to this article are like-minded, but I want to point this out to anyone who might not be aware of the experience level of many adjuncts.

47. shaolinbruce - October 05, 2010 at 12:57 pm

The first six words in the title of this article say it all. So what else is new?

48. adjunctcarol - October 05, 2010 at 02:09 pm

I hope that our college and university administrators don't use the summit as an example or justification of how to create solutions or plans while ingoring, marginalizing, and underappreciating adjunct or librarians or FT or...

This summit reminds me a little of how our school made a new strategic plan. The administration didn't allow adjuncts (over 50% of the employees at the time) to be on the committee, and failed to include half of the input and comments made at the idea generating/discussion day (which...to administrations credit adjunct were paid to participate! Adjunct voices were thus not heard despite being told our comments would be passed on)
GIGO. (NINR No Input No Respect)

49. daninreno - October 05, 2010 at 08:03 pm

It is not the stipend that concerns me (I teach because I love to do it); it is the lack of a voice in the affairs of the department that is a worry.

Since half of the courses at our community college are taught by adjuncts, it only seems fair that we should have a voice in curriculum development, book selection and common exam preparation, among other things.

50. olivere - October 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

I have been an adjunct professor of Speech Communication at Palm Beach State College for 6 years. this year I won the Gimelstob Student choice Teacher of the Year Award. Ove the six years at PBSC, I have taught over 1500 students. That's 1500 minds I have influenced. When I average out what I make--I am paid only for the hours I teach--added to the hours I spend outside the classroom reviewing homework, consulting with students, attending faculty functions, etc., I am working for $8.80 and hour. (For goodness sake, here in Florida, migrant workers in the construction indusctry make $10 an hour!)And, of course I don't get any benefits, especialy not health care insurance. My students are aware of this and ask the valid question, "Why pursue a higher education if you end up essentially poor?" What can I say.? Adjunct professors are the most exploited, underpaid professionals in our society. And yet, we are entrusted with our single most valuable natural resource, our children's minds. This exploitation is criminal. Add to that, because at $8.80 an hour I can barely meet my meager living expenses, the fact that I cannot afford health care, one can make the obvious assumption that the college and state and country I serve don't care if I live or die. This is demoralizing.

I love teaching. I love my students and they know it. If there were no such thing as money, I would teach. But money is a reality. And, after I put my heart, soul, and health into my job, knowing that I still have to worry about where the money to pay my rent is going to come from, I realize that if I continue as an adjunct, I am quite simply being a masochist. The alternative? Get out of education. TOO SAD.

Something MUST be done to abolish what amounts to peonage in all institutions of higher ed. At the very least, we should be afforded health insurance and at least two weeks of paid vacation.

What we have here amounts to modern slavery--except it is more cynical than that. Teachers teach for the LOVE of teaching. It is for LOVE that we sacrifice ourselves. FIX THIS INEQUITY, PLEASE.

Emily Oliver, MA
Adjunct Professor
Palm Beach State College
Lake Worth, FL

Add Your Comment

Commenting is closed.

subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.