Thursday, December 22, 2011


"Follow The Profits: University Budgets and Contingent Faculty Members"
Robert Samuels, UCLA

To make powerful arguments to parents and politicians, contingent faculty need to show how not only do non-tenure faculty now teach the majority of undergraduate classes, but they perform this vital task in a cost-efficient manner.  

Moreover, it is important to document how undergraduate courses taught by contingent faculty members generate huge profits for universities and colleges, and these extra funds often are used to subsidize non-academic functions, like administration and athletics. 

It turns out that the best way to defend undergraduate instruction is to treat non-tenured faculty in a fair and just way.  To make this point, I will discuss how individuals can research university budgets to more effectively communicate the realities facing contingent faculty members

"Who Speaks for the Academy? Perceived Privilege and the Public Conversation"
Monica F Jacobe, Princeton

As conversations about higher education become increasingly tied not just to the consumerist idea of degrees as "educational products" but to larger discussions of cultural values and spending priorities, it is increasingly important for faculty members to speak beyond the confines of academe.  

However, with more than two-thirds of all faculty members working contingently--more than half part time--whose voice will be heard?  Sadly, the reality so far is that the few faculty voices really acknowledged in the public sphere belong to tenured, privileged faculty whose working realities bear little to no resemblance to those doing the real work of higher education, to say nothing of the lives of most of the students and parents engaged in this growing conversation.  

While many of these privileged voices are sympathetic to the problems of the current faculty labor structure, they cannot speak the realities of the profession simply because they no longer live them, if they ever did.  This paper will make the argument that contingent faculty are best positioned to speak for the academy in these public discussions with non-academic stakeholders not just because they are the true face of the academy but because this is also an impression of the university that isn't part of these discussions yet.  

In order to shift the conversation to a place where the real university is seen and acknowledged, contingent faculty must take advantage of all sides of their ethos and join the conversation.  Beyond a call to action, this paper will lay out routes to such participation.

"Stakeholders and High-Stakes Teaching: Contingent Faculty and Outcomes-Based Funding Models"
Kurt Eisen, Tennessee Tech

When we speak of "academic labor" we refer to an educational economy of conflicting forces and expectations, in which such priorities as access, cost-effectiveness, marketability, and quality are all inherently compromised to reconcile the various goals of parents, students, faculty, administrators, taxpayers, and legislators.  Carrying a disproportionate burden of this compromise are the contingent faculty whose low rates of compensation help each of these groups fulfill its agenda.  

What is needed is a fairer, more realistic sharing of this burden, in which each group better understands its roles and responsibilities.  With state funding models increasingly emphasing academic outcomes and graduation rates rather than FTE enrollment, contingent faculty may find themselves in a stronger position to assert the value of their work, and administrators have an added incentive to assure the quality of classroom instruction in lower-division classes where these faculty generally teach.

Andrew William Smith, Tennessee Tech, Presiding