Improving adjunct working conditions

Collecting better data on adjunct employment on campus. Inviting adjuncts to participate in departmental

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meetings and curriculum design. Some of the biggest ways institutions can improve the working conditions of adjunct faculty are free or cost little, debunking a common argument against rethinking higher education’s changing faculty make-up, reports InsideHigher Ed on a new study.

“Or so argues a new paper from the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, a partnership between the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities to examine and develop the role of adjunct faculty.

“[Although] leaders in higher education do face budgetary constraints and uncertainty over future funding sources,it is a myth that resources are the sole reason that prevents us from ensuring that all our faculty members are adequately supported so they can provide the highest quality of instruction to their students,” reads Delphi’s “Dispelling the Myths: Locating the Resources Needed to Support Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.”

“The paper, written by Adrianna Kezar, director of the Delphi Project and professor of higher education at the University of Southern California, and Dan Maxey, Kezar’s research assistant, outlines a variety of practices institutions may adopt to better support all faculty – not just adjuncts – rated on a scale from “$” (free to marginal in cost) to “$$$$” (indicating a “more substantial” expense).

“Some obvious means of supporting adjunct instructors, who make up nearly three-fourths of the higher education work force — better pay, benefits — are costly. But others — such as enhancing data collection efforts to better track adjunct employment on campus, ensuring protections for academic freedom in faculty handbooks, and inviting adjuncts to participate in curricular discussions and governance – aren’t.

“That’s the paper’s biggest takeaway, Kezar said, given the many “myths and stereotypes,” coupled with the lack of national data, about the costs of rethinking adjunct employment conditions. It’s based on previous case studies of different campuses’ costs and strategies related to adjunct faculty members.

“This new resource on how to understand the actual costs to support [adjuncts] should be paradigm-shifting for campus leaders,” she said via e-mail. “So many changes cost little or marginal amounts of money. But they do require priority-setting and making this a goal for departments or institutions.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/16/paper-argues-more-support-adjuncts-wont-cost-much#ixzz2hx109o4B
Inside Higher Ed

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