AAUP@FHSU


Contingency and Upper Management Growth on the Rise in Higher Ed

The steady rise of contingent faculty appointments and the growth of administration in higher education present a significant threat to academic freedom and shared governance. That’s the conclusion of studies on contingency and administrative growth in the AAUP’s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2020–21.

Some key findings on contingency and administrative growth:

  • In fall 2019, 63.0 percent of faculty members were on contingent appointments; 20.0 percent were full-time contingent faculty members and 42.9 percent were part-time contingent faculty members. Only 26.5 percent of faculty members were tenured and 10.5 percent were on the tenure track.
  • From fiscal year 2011–12 to fiscal year 2018–19, the numbers of staff classified as “management” increased 12 percent per FTE student, real average salaries increased 7 percent, and salary outlays per FTE student increased 19 percent, including an extraordinary 24 percent increase in real salary expenditures per FTE student in public colleges and universities.

As we note in the report, contingent appointments are the least secure, lowest remunerated, and generally least supported faculty positions. Most faculty members who are paid per course section do not receive retirement or medical benefit contributions, and in most states, adjunct faculty members do not have rights to unemployment insurance. Faculty tenure is the only secure protection for academic freedom in teaching, research, and service.

The prevalence of contingent faculty appointments also means that shared governance in higher education is increasingly at risk. Without adequate numbers of full-time tenure-line faculty members, many institutions now appoint administrators to committees that govern areas formerly within the sole purview of faculty committees.

This deep imbalance between the rise of contingency and the rise of management, particularly the exorbitant rise in high-level administrative salaries, requires urgent action. Governing boards, legislators, and other policy makers must provide funds for a substantial readjustment of academic salary levels to avoid irreparable harm to the US higher education system. Additionally, the AAUP holds that full and part-time faculty members, regardless of rank, are to be considered eligible for tenure and the protections it affords. Faculty teaching, research, and service must remain the focus of higher education.

You can read the full report and view charts of our findings on contingency and administrative growth here.

Next week, we will discuss the report’s findings on rising institutional debt and share resources from our New Deal for Higher Education campaign on this issue.

The AAUP Research Department


Pacific Lutheran University Dismissed Long-Serving Faculty Member in Violation of AAUP Principles

An AAUP report found that Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) acted in violation of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure when it summarily dismissed Jane Harty, a part-time faculty member with forty years of service in the Department of Music at PLU, in 2018. The dismissal hearing held by the university for Harty was described as a “sham exercise” in the AAUP report.

The AAUP concluded that the relatively minor nature of the misconduct in which Harty was alleged to have engaged and the summary nature of the administrative action taken suggest her dismissal may have stemmed from the administration’s long-standing displeasure with her advocacy for the rights of faculty members on contingent appointments.

Join us for a Facebook Live with AAUP senior program officer Hans-Joerg Tiede on Thursday, January 23, at 3 p.m. ET for a brief overview of the report. RSVP here.

Beginning in 2012, PLU was the site of an academic labor dispute when the Service Employees International Union attempted to organize the contingent faculty at the institution. The administration opposed this effort, based on PLU’s religious affiliation and on the claim that full-time contingent faculty members are managerial employees. Harty coauthored a report on a survey of the contingent faculty at the institution undertaken on behalf of the local AAUP chapter and led the organizing effort among the contingent faculty. Following the conclusion of an unsuccessful organizing campaign, Harty continued to engage in activism on behalf of the non-tenure-track faculty on campus, which brought her into conflict with the administration.

As the report details, in November 2018, Harty was summarily suspended from her teaching responsibilities without a dismissal hearing for allegedly violating a directive that prohibited faculty members from accepting payment from PLU students for private music lessons given independently of the university. Following lengthy correspondence between the AAUP’s staff and the administration, in which the administration’s representatives repeatedly shifted their characterization of the action against her, the PLU administration agreed to afford Harty a faculty dismissal hearing, as stipulated under AAUP-recommended standards.

At the hearing, which was attended by an AAUP observer representing the AAUP’s national office, the administration took the position that it was not actually dismissing the faculty member, and the faculty hearing body did not therefore determine whether the charges warranted dismissal. In effect, the procedure was a dismissal hearing in name only.

Read the full report here.

The AAUP


Scary Stats on Contingency: Campus Equity Week is Here

Contingent appointments now account for over 70 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education. The term “contingent faculty” includes both part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty and graduate employees. The common link? Colleges and universities make little commitment to or investment in faculty in such positions, choosing instead to treat them as an expendable and temporary workforce, even faculty who have worked for decades at the same institution.

As Campus Equity Week kicks off, help shine a light on the increasingly precarious nature of academic work in our higher education system.

Many people don’t know that

  • A large number of faculty in so-called “part-time” positions actually teach the equivalent of a full-time course load, often commuting between institutions and preparing courses on a grueling timetable, making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students.
  • Since faculty classified as part-time are typically paid by the course, without benefits, many college teachers lack access to health insurance and retirement plans.
  • Academic freedom is in jeopardy when a majority of the faculty lack the protections of tenure and may not be reappointed over any complaint.

We believe that all types of faculty should have access to the protections of academic freedom and tenure, just compensation, due process protections, and inclusion in institutional governance.

Here’s what you can do today:

A group of tenured, tenure-track, and contingent faculty is circulating an open letter to the editors of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges Ranking system proposing that the magazine consider adjusting the “faculty resources” section of the rankings in order to reflect more accurately current academic realities. Add your name to the letter here.

Spread the word. Click the graphic to share it on Facebook and spread the word about contingency. (Prefer Twitter? Click here to tweet.)

Graphic for Facebook

You can also check out our CEW 2017 resources on our One Faculty, One Resistance campaign page.  

To a great week for campus equity!

The AAUP

P.S. Want to print the graphic? Click here to download it.