El caso de los profesores adjuntos, como se les llama en los Estados Unidos –quienes hace unos días eran caracterizados allá de la siguiente forma y interrogados así: “They don’t make much money, they don’t have health benefits, and they don’t have job security. So why do adjuncts keep showing up to teach in college classrooms semester after semester, year after year?”– representa un fenómeno que acompaña casi inevitablemente a los procesos de masificación de la matrícula y de continua e ilimitada expansión de las funciones docentes.
Surge entonces una capa de docentes o profesores sin posiciones estables, frecuentem ete sin adscripción real ni a una disciplina ni a una institución, que proveen docencia a granel y son remunerados escasamente y tratados, la mayoría de las veces, sin mayor cuidado ni reconocimiento por su labor.
A continuación: el estado del debate sobre estos asuntos en la academia de los EE.UU. visto a través de dos artículos de revistas especializadas.
Seeking Tenure ‘Conversion’ Inside Higher Ed, October 28, 2009
In discussions about the use and abuse of adjunct faculty members, “conversion” is a controversial topic. Typically it refers to a decision by a college or university to convert some number of adjunct positions into a number (typically a smaller number) of tenure-track positions. The idea of conversion has been key to the reform proposals of national faculty groups. Some colleges actually have bucked the trends and converted slots to the tenure track in various ways.
The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday entered the conversion debate in a significant way with a new draft policy on the treatment of adjunct faculty members.
A cursory look at the draft might suggest that it is just another statement from a faculty group calling for better treatment of adjuncts and the creation of more tenure-track lines. But it actually reflects an attempt to shift how conversion might take place — by calling for a switch not of slots, but in the status of those currently working as adjuncts, whom the AAUP wants tenured (or converted).
Specifically, it calls for these faculty members to be considered for tenure based on their teaching contributions (assuming that like most adjuncts they focus on teaching), even if they are at research universities. Further, while the AAUP praises the tactic used by many academic unions and some individual colleges of providing adjuncts with more job security and better benefits and pay, the association goes on record as saying that anything short of tenure can’t be viewed as a substitute.
“As faculty hired into contingent positions seek and obtain greater employment security, often through collective bargaining, it is becoming clear that academic tenure and employment security are not reducible to each other,” the draft statement says. “A potentially crippling development in these arrangements is that many, while improving on the entirely insecure positions they replace, offer limited conceptions of academic citizenship and service, few protections for academic freedom, little opportunity for professional growth, and no professional peer scrutiny in hiring, evaluation, and promotion.”
Many parts of the AAUP policy are likely to find favor with adjuncts and other faculty members, many of whom fear the impact of the shift at many colleges to reliance on adjuncts as opposed to those on the tenure track.
But parts of the draft could be controversial. For instance, the theory behind the draft is that anyone who has been teaching year after year at a college should be qualified for a tenure track job. At the vast majority of colleges that are teaching oriented, the AAUP can argue that the adjuncts are in fact performing the duties of faculty members just as those down the hall (with tenure) do.
But the issue is more complicated at research universities — which led to some disagreements on the AAUP panel that drafted the report. Most research universities look for evidence of research potential when hiring for the tenure track, and most adjuncts — by virtue of spending all of their time teaching, and much of it rushing from campus to campus, with little if any support for attending conferences and other research activities — don’t tend to have the same publication records as others.
So universities that in fact employ the same adjuncts year after year to teach freshman composition might never seriously consider those individuals for a tenure-track line in English. How would conversion take place there?
The AAUP draft isn’t specific on the issue, because of the disagreements about what to do. One vision — outlined by Marc Bousquet, co-chair of the committee that wrote the draft and a professor of English at Santa Clara University — is to push for the creation of dual tenure track lines at research universities. Bousquet said that there is “a mistaken idea that tenure should be reserved for research-intensive” careers. “The foundation for academic freedom” that tenure provides is just as important for those teaching, so they should be offered tenure as teaching professors at research universities, he said. The bottom line, he said, is that anyone teaching at a college or university needs academic freedom that only comes with tenure.
While Bousquet acknowledged that there are concerns associated with having multiple tenure tracks at the same universities, he said that the most important thing was to provide full academic freedom protections to everyone, not just those who can get jobs based on their research. It would be problematic if research universities in such a system treated those on the research-oriented track better than those on the teaching-oriented track, he said, “but there are hierarchies now. They already exist.” The difference is that those on the bottom of today’s hierarchies don’t have any tenure rights.
While many on the committee endorsed Bousquet’s vision of dual tenure tracks to allow for the conversion of slots, one member who did not is Cary Nelson, national president of the AAUP. Nelson said that a “two-tiered class structure” would be “incredibly destructive” to morale among research university faculty, and that he can’t support such a measure. Nelson said that a majority of members of the committee that drafted the policy probably agree with Bousquet and that the issue would probably be addressed as the policy is refined.
At the same time, Nelson said that it is disingenuous for research universities to say that they can’t hire adjuncts to the tenure track because of standards. “How can they say that about adjuncts they employ for 25 years?” he asked. So Nelson said that he would propose that research universities hire their adjuncts into tenure-track lines “as a stopgap measure, to get justice for the contingent faculty members,” but then stop using contingent faculty members. So future hires would be on a common tenure track, with research and teaching obligations expected of all hires.
To permanently create separate tracks for teaching- and research-oriented faculty, he said, “would undermine the very nature of the research university.”
While the AAUP draft doesn’t explicitly endorse the two track system, it comes awfully close.
It says: “The best practice for institutions of all types is to convert the status of faculty serving contingently to eligible for tenure with only minor changes in job description. This means that faculty hired contingently with teaching as the major component of their workload will become tenure-eligible primarily on the basis of successful teaching. (Similarly, contingent faculty with research as the major component of their workload may become eligible for tenure primarily on the basis of successful research.) In the long run, however, a balance is desirable for most faculty. A tenure bid by a person in a teaching-intensive position is unlikely to be successful in the absence of campus citizenship and professional development, so even teaching-intensive tenure-eligible workloads should include service and appropriate forms of engagement in research or the scholarship of teaching.”
Beyond recommending this course of action as a means to “stabilize” the faculty, the draft statement outlines various college policies that it endorses. And it offers reasons why the current system of increased use of non-tenure-track faculty members hurts the academic freedom of all professors.
“In short, tenure was framed to unite the faculty within a system of common professional values, standards, and mutual responsibilities,” the draft says. “By 2007, however, almost 70 percent of faculty members were employed off the tenure track. Many institutions use contingent faculty appointments throughout their programs; some retain a tenurable faculty in their traditional or flagship programs while staffing others — such as branch campuses, online offerings, and overseas campuses — almost entirely with contingent faculty. Faculty serving contingently generally work at significantly lower wages, often without health coverage and other benefits, and in positions that do not incorporate all aspects of university life or the full range of faculty rights and responsibilities. The tenure track has not vanished, but it has ceased to be the norm for faculty.”
While experts on the academic workforce have only started to look at the document, many offered praise and others were critical (for varying reasons). The American Federation of Teachers offered support, calling the draft “a welcome contribution to the cause shared by the two organizations.” The AFT’s Faculty and College Excellence project has as its twin goals the improvement of adjunct working conditions and the creation of more tenure-track positions. While the AFT has said that adjuncts deserve fair consideration for those positions, it has not suggested that the the individuals should be moved to the tenure track in the same way being suggested by the AAUP.
Maria Maisto, president of the Board of Directors of New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct and Contingent Equity, praised the AAUP draft, and she drew particular attention to the way the AAUP proposes to get adjuncts into the tenure track. “It’s not just a question of creating more positions, but you have to take advantage and reinvest in the resources you already have,” she said. “We’re really pleased with that.”
Maisto said that when colleges simply add tenure-track positions, adjuncts frequently lose jobs, unfairly. She noted, for example, that many colleges routinely hire those without Ph.D.’s to teach certain courses, but then — after adding a tenure-track slot for the courses — say that a doctorate is a requirement. “That’s the kind of scenario that the report recognizes,” she said. “We think the conversion of persons rather than positions is the way to go.”
But for others, that’s reason to question the AAUP draft. KC Johnson, a historian at Brooklyn College, spoke out against a conversion plan similar to what the AAUP is suggesting when the City University of New York faculty union sought one. (While the union didn’t win the conversion plan as it proposed, CUNY did create numerous new tenure-track positions.)
Johnson said he opposed the AAUP draft for the same reasons he opposed the idea proposed by the CUNY union. “The AAUP statement is deeply troubling,” he said. “Adjuncts are not hired through competitive, national searches, nor (with very, very rare exceptions) does an adjunct position contain any expectation of scholarly production. Converting them en masse to tenure-track faculty status would send a message to graduate students entering the field — much less to state legislators, donors, and alumni — that institutions no longer have any interest in ensuring that tenure-track positions result in the hire of the best candidate, drawn from a national pool to include consideration of the candidate’s scholarly publications.”
Keith Hoeller, co-founder of the Washington State Part-Time Faculty Association, said that he thinks the AAUP draft is based on a presumption that tenure is the only way to protect faculty rights. Since Hoeller — a long-term adjunct, who teaches at several colleges in the Seattle area — believes that he and many others will work without tenure, he thinks that’s the wrong approach. “I think the AAUP is trying to put their fingers in the holes of the dike, but they don’t have enough fingers,” he said.
Specifically, Hoeller said that the conversions envisioned by the AAUP draft will not take place at any kind of level to employ most adjuncts. “This would end up pitting adjunct against adjunct to compete for these new slots, and will leave the tenured faculty in control,” he said. If research universities created the new track that Bousquet suggested for teaching-oriented faculty members, “they would be a little above the other adjuncts, but not at the same level of the tenured faculty,” Hoeller said. “Adding more tracks is not going to solve the problem.”
If the AAUP and other faculty groups cannot bring tenure-track options to everyone, Hoeller said, they should look for new ways to protect academic freedom. “There has to be a whole new look at the system,” he said. “They need to think outside the box, but they can’t. I’m not surprised that an association that’s 90 percent tenured faculty would decide that the solution is more tenured faculty.”
— Scott Jaschik
© Copyright 2009 Inside Higher Ed
Love of Teaching Draws Adjuncts to the Classroom Despite Low Pay
A ‘Chronicle’ survey of part-timers in Chicago provides insight into their motivations and concerns
By Audrey Williams, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 18, 2009
They don’t make much money, they don’t have health benefits, and they don’t have job security. So why do adjuncts keep showing up to teach in college classrooms semester after semester, year after year?
Adjuncts who teach part time are now about half of the professoriate, making them a crucial sector of academe. But information on their daily jobs, their qualifications, and their motivations is sparse. To help fill the gap, we focused, both in a survey and in intensive reporting, on adjuncts in the Chicago metropolitan area. The region’s rich mix of public and private four-year institutions and community colleges provided a lens through which to view the variety of adjunct employment.
Our survey was answered by more than 600 adjuncts who work at 90 institutions. Their responses, though not a random sample, gave us a detailed look at their educations—most do not have doctorates—and their compensation—annual salaries of $20,000 or less are the norm. Students are likely to pay more than that at some of the area’s colleges, like Loyola University Chicago, which charges about $30,000 in tuition alone.
We also learned that full-timers who work off the tenure track at a large university share some of the same concerns as part-timers, and why adjuncts feel marginalized on the job.
Answers to that all-important question of why they do it came in many forms, but rarely in purely financial terms. “It’s not the money,” says Festus Mwinzi, who has been a physics instructor at Kishwaukee College for five years. “It’s about giving back to the community and seeing the students excel.”
Following a Dream
Some part-time adjuncts are still trying to hold onto the dream of a full-time or tenure-track position. But they find that doing so becomes increasingly difficult.
James Davis, for instance, has worked as an adjunct for a decade and began teaching part time as a way to network his way to a better faculty job. “I’m hoping that I acquire enough experience teaching and get to know enough of the right people to get a full-time position,” says Mr. Davis, an English instructor at the City Colleges of Chicago’s Truman College with a master’s of fine arts in creative writing. “The competition for jobs is so tough out there. I’m up against people with Ph.D.’s who are trying to get jobs at community colleges.” Mr. Davis is 47 and says that at his age, he has no plans to pursue a doctorate.
About eight years ago, shortly after arriving in Chicago from New Orleans, Mr. Davis applied for a teaching job at Loyola University Chicago but didn’t hear back. So he visited the institution to follow up and was given two classes to teach on the spot.
The schedule suited him. “I would rather do this and struggle than be a slave to some office job,” Mr. Davis says. “I think that’s what motivates a lot of people. It’s the promise of a full-time job, and on the other hand you’ve got some freedom when it comes to your time.”
Until this semester, Mr. Davis had usually taught five courses between Loyola and Truman. But this fall, the three courses he taught at Truman were cut down to two at the last minute. And he didn’t get any classes from Loyola.
He expects to earn about $18,000, in all, this year from teaching and additional work as a tutor in the writing center at Roosevelt University. The recent downturn is forcing him to re-evaluate his career goals. He admits that if he were “a little bit more aggressive I could probably have more classes right now because of all the colleges that are here.” But without a car, he says, he’s limited to teaching at colleges that are close to one another.
And after applying for three or four full-time jobs each year around the country, “I’m getting tired of chasing the carrot at the end of the stick,” says Mr. Davis. “It’s disappointing because you’re taught all your life if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded.” He has been dabbling in other money-making opportunities, such as freelance writing or publishing, from which he might fashion a new career. “I’ll look at teaching part time to help supplement whatever I end up doing, instead of the other way around.”
The pragmatism that Mr. Davis has reluctantly begun to embrace was an underlying factor in Paul V. Anderson’s decision to teach as an adjunct in the first place. While pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literary studies at Northwestern University, he had to string together adjunct teaching jobs in the area for several years to support himself as he completed his dissertation. As an adjunct, he learned firsthand that “the single most important thing to have was health insurance,” says Mr. Anderson, who worked in college admissions before going to graduate school.
Shortly after defending his dissertation, he started work as an academic adviser at the University of Chicago, in August 2006. A year later, the City Colleges of Chicago’s Wilbur Wright College, where he had previously applied for a full-time teaching job, contacted him about being an instructor for an evening introduction-to-humanities course.
Teaching there was particularly attractive to Mr. Anderson because the college’s curriculum focuses on using primary texts, just like his alma mater, St. John’s College, in Maryland.
“I thought, This is a place where I could fit into the culture,” says Mr. Anderson, whose teaching experience began about 15 years ago when he was a graduate student. “It was always difficult for me to turn down an opportunity to teach a class. It’s part of who I am as a professional.”
Mr. Anderson, 46, also teaches a core humanities course at the University of Chicago twice a week during his lunch hour. That work, he says, helps him in his job as an adviser because he sees students as students, not advisees with abstract problems.
A Balancing Act
Using adjunct teaching to provide balance in their lives, like Mr. Anderson does, is a common theme among adjuncts, particularly those seeking to level the work-life seesaw.
Nancy Christensen, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, first worked as an adjunct when her son, now in high school, was a baby. She taught a night chemistry class at Waubonsee Community College that met twice a week. Her husband, also a chemist, worked during the day. “We did that so we wouldn’t have to leave him with anybody,” she says.
Ms. Christensen, who also has a middle-schooler and another child in high school, taught at Waubonsee for eight years before her family moved to Texas. She didn’t teach there, but instead homeschooled her children. Then her family moved back to the Chicago area, and with her children enrolled in school, Ms. Christensen she came back to Waubonsee. This time around she teaches two classes that meet during the day so she can be at home when her children return from school.
“Between lectures and labs, I’m out there every day even though I only have two classes,” says Ms. Christensen, who lives about 10 miles from the college. Still, the flexibility can’t be beat. Once, Ms. Christensen was scheduled to teach classes that conflicted with her children’s schedules. She was able to make a switch almost immediately. “Once they get people they really like, they really work to get a schedule that works for you,” she says.
At some point, when her children are out of the house, she would like to work full time at a community college. But for now, “my working as an adjunct is the trade-off we’ve chosen,” Ms. Christensen, 48, says. “It’s really working well for us.”
Others seeking harmony between work and life find that a part-time teaching job can be an important link to the career they chose to forgo. Vicky Bush-Joseph left behind a law career seven years ago. The lawyer and mother is now in her 12th year of teaching an adoption-law class at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law. Her alma mater asked her to teach the course as a way to build up the school’s child-law program.
“I stopped working in my downtown firm, but I kept teaching the class,” Ms. Bush-Joseph says. “It was my contact with work.”
Ms. Bush-Joseph says the class keeps her “intellectually challenged and stimulated. I have to keep on top of everything so I can teach my students.” Her Thursday evening class of 23 students is also a conversation starter. “When I say I teach a law-school class, people always want to know what adoption law is,” Ms. Bush-Joseph says. “I’m happy to explain it.”
Jennifer O’Riordan also relishes the stimulation. Her first foray into teaching as an adjunct, back in 2002, stemmed from a desire to “keep her mind active,” she says. “I was driving my kids around one day, right before they got driver’s licenses, and I thought, I have a master’s degree in psychology. Why am I a taxi driver?”
A friend suggested that she teach psychology as an adjunct, and Ms. O’Riordan, although doubtful that she could get hired, applied at Joliet Junior College, about 25 minutes from her home. Two weeks before the start of the semester, two sociology courses—what was available at the time—were hers to teach. “I found out that this was really my gift,” says Ms. O’Riordan, who now teaches psychology.
But what began as a way to expand her life beyond motherhood has morphed into a platform for a cause: better pay and work conditions for adjuncts. Ms. O’Riordan is now active in the adjunct-faculty union at Joliet.
“My work with the union has put me in touch with issues in higher education that I wasn’t really familiar with,” Ms. O’Riordan says. “I’ve learned so much, and it’s exciting and interesting to me. That’s another reason why I keep teaching. I like being a part of that big picture.”
Ms. O’Riordan, whose husband works as a clinical psychologist, doesn’t have to rely on the money she makes as an adjunct. Still, she finds it “personally fulfilling” to stand up for those for whom a bigger paycheck makes a difference.
Teaching vs. Money
The desire for more money is shared by many adjuncts, of course. But for some, it can be overpowered by the desire to teach. Bettina Maravolo, who has taught political and social science at Truman College for five years now, wasn’t sure at first, after earning a master’s degree in political science, that she wanted to teach. So instead she opted to join corporate America and took a job as a community-relations manager at a national bookstore chain. “As I was working with educators to put together educational programs back then, I realized that I wanted to be the educator myself.”
It was a timely realization. She was already applying for teaching jobs when her company laid her off in the summer of 2003. In the spring of 2004, Ms. Maravolo, 46, taught her first class at Truman.
Sometimes Ms. Maravolo isn’t in the classroom but is teaching just the same. She teaches two online classes for the City Colleges Center for Distance Learning and is working to earn a master online teaching certificate.
But her enthusiasm about her work has been dampened somewhat by the uncertainties that go along with being an adjunct. This semester was the third in a row in which her typical three-course load at Truman was cut to two.
Ms. Maravolo also works as an assistant at a small library in the area, designing fliers and posters for its youth-services department, and the money she earns there helps. “I’m fortunate because I also have other skills,” says Ms. Maravolo
But still she is drawn to the classroom. “Seeing the students that come there ready to learn and overcome their circumstances—it’s inspiring,” Ms. Maravolo says. “Their diversity is just incredible, and you have all sorts of age groups in the mix. I love to meet them. I love teaching and being in the classroom.”