The faculty union's contract with the City University of New York has a provision designed to prevent part-time instructors from being given a full-time teaching load. These adjuncts are allowed to teach only nine credits a semester at any one college in CUNY (typically three courses) and one other course at a second CUNY college. If a department head wants to offer an adjunct any additional work, say a section at a third college or a fourth section at the primary college, the union must approve a waiver. And until recently, the union has generally done so.
Tracy Donhardt was so excited that she and fellow adjuncts in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis had found a way to get health insurance together that she wanted to let other adjuncts know they could sign up, too.
But when she asked the university’s human resources department for help getting the word out, the whole plan was, almost immediately, shattered. “I contacted them, said, ‘Hey, look at we did, isn’t it great?' ” she recalled.
Douglas E. Hersh’s close crop of auburn hair and neatly trimmed goatee are clearly visible in an expandable window on my desktop. So are his light tweed blazer and matching tie. On a table behind his desk sits a purple orchid, lending color to his office -- 2,600 miles away from mine.
The technology that allows me to see Hersh’s face as he speaks to me is not new. But Hersh, dean of educational programs and technology at Santa Barbara City College, believes it may hold the key to solving an old problem that has plagued distance education since its beginnings: the retention gap.
SAN JOSE -- At a forum for adjunct faculty members Saturday, organizers asked participants to write down notes about their concerns about job security and compensation issues. The first note read aloud asked: "How do we get multi-year contracts?" To which one adjunct in the crowd shouted: "How can we get one-year contracts?"
A coalition of academic associations is today issuing a joint statement calling on colleges to recognize that they have "one faculty" and to treat those off the tenure track as professionals, with pay, benefits, professional development and participation in governance.
At many faculty gatherings these days, one hears quips and complaints about for-profit higher education. Professors who value what they consider essential and eroding traditions -- a significant tenure-track faculty and the centrality of the liberal arts, for example -- resent the adjunct-heavy, career-education dominant model of higher education that is widely used in for-profit higher ed. As a result, many faculty advocates are skeptical not only about for-profit higher education, but about the growing number of alliances between nonprofit colleges and for-profit colleges.
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