Celebrating Adjunct Faculty, February 24, 2015
In my Fall Address to the University two years ago, I noted that CSU is fortunate to have an exceptional cadre of adjunct faculty who bring skill, insight, and experience to our classrooms and allow us to provide the courses and curricula essential to meet student demand. The University relies on these non-tenure-track faculty members, who want the same things that all of us want when we work hard and perform well: some job security, decent pay and benefits, opportunities for advancement, and respect.
Colorado State’s Contingent Caucus this Wednesday, February 25, will be hosting a “walk-in day” to showcase and celebrate the professionalism, contributions, and commitment of CSU’s non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty. My goal in writing today is to urge all members of our campus community to join, as I do, in honoring and celebrating our non-tenure-track faculty, both via this grassroots event and throughout the year.
Nationwide, the level of dependence that colleges and universities have on adjunct, non-tenure-track faculty has for too long greatly exceeded the commitment that institutions have been willing to make to them as employees, scholars, and educators. Across the country, almost two-thirds of faculty at accredited colleges and universities are non-tenured. At CSU, roughly 40 percent of our faculty members are non-tenured, and they teach about 44 percent of our undergraduate student credit hours. This is not news to Colorado State University nor to anyone who has been paying attention to this issue over the past 30 years. But even as reliance on NTT faculty has grown, we have historically seen adjunct faculty across the country treated as an unrepresented underclass of university employees — a paradox that ought to be repugnant to all of us in higher education.
Like other universities, CSU for too long failed to adequately rise to this challenge. But today I’m truly proud that we have begun to address the challenge in meaningful, fundamental ways. Over the last three years, thanks to the strong leadership and support of Faculty Council, Provost Miranda, and most notably our adjunct faculty themselves, we have made some long overdue and important changes.
Here is some of what has improved for our non-tenure-track colleagues as a result of this focus:
- Thanks to a change in state statute, which we strongly supported, we can now offer multi-year contracts to non-tenure-track faculty and establish senior teaching appointments.
- We’ve raised the salary floor for adjuncts and provided standardized, incremental raises.
- We’ve developed an outline of best practices for hiring and supporting NTT faculty to more clearly provide a career path that rewards and recognizes their contributions.
- NTT teaching appointments are no longer terminated at the end of spring semester, which caused adjuncts to lose library and parking access and amplified the sense of job insecurity.
- We have reiterated our expectation that NTT faculty have the same academic freedom as regular faculty — and we are committed to upholding that right as an institution of higher learning.
- The Office of the Provost and others have offered expanded mentoring and professional development opportunities for NTT faculty.
- Goals related to improvement of the working conditions of NTT faculty have been included in the University Strategic Plan.
- We have supported and promoted Campus Equity Week events to draw attention to the working conditions of NTT faculty.
- Adjuncts now have an official voice in CSU faculty governance through the Faculty Council Standing Committee on Non-Tenure Track Faculty.
As I said, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far. But it is not enough, and we remain committed to taking the steps needed to make CSU one of the finest work environments in the country for non-tenure- track faculty. There remain issues where our progress is not what we might hope and where we are continuing to focus, including the need for:
- greater recognition — at all levels — of NTT faculty accomplishments and contributions.
- continued improvement in competitive compensation and benefits that better reflect the value we place on our NTT faculty.
- continued improvement in extension of multi-year contracts and special teaching appointments to greater numbers of NTT faculty.
- policy changes that support an improved work environment for NTT faculty.
- a voice — and a vote — in departmental and college business.
Unfortunately, I will be out of town on Wednesday and unable to participate in the events on campus. But I will be there in spirit to applaud the leadership and contributions of our non-tenure track faculty — and I remain firmly committed to continuous, measurable improvement in the working environment that CSU provides.
Thanks — and have a good week,
Dr. Tony Frank