Monday, September 27, 2010

CAW Survey to Document Adjunct Work

Although adjuncts and contingent faculty know what "adjunct work" is and what it is like, our "lived experience" knowledge tends to the anecdotal, validity-as-data overlooked and discounted. The perceptions and conventional wisdom held and bandied about by non-academics, even academics and administrators, are often inaccurate. That's putting it kindly.

To remedy this information gap big enough to hide battleships in, CAW (not a crow calling but acronym for the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, a group of disciplinary and professional associations and faculty unions -- is undertaking a major documentation effort to verify and record the working conditions and needs of adjuncts. Laying bare unacceptable but accepted working conditions that non tenure track faculty face daily is Too many adjuncts and their supporters find complaints rebuffed by administrators citing "the happy adjunct" myth, examples (real for a minority but not the group at large) of adjuncts who love being adjuncts, or who aren't worried about health insurance or retirement benefits because they have other, full-time jobs. Mainstream media lap it up too and pass it on, spreading the misinformation of mass

Respected and much-cited national databases on academic working conditions habitually focus on full-time, generally tenure-track professors but fall short on information about the real majority at many if not most institutions.

Robert Townsend, assistant director of research and publications for the American Historical Association, a coalition members, explains the current survey: "Although the majority of U.S. faculty are now off the tenure track, information about their working conditions is sorely lacking. Most of the limited data that exist on the working conditions of the contingent academic workforce are too generic to be of much use in really understanding how these professionals are being compensated and treated."

Get counted: take this direct link to the survey,
Coalition for Academic Workforce,

Complete article in Inside Higher Ed,

Hat tip to NFM Board Member Peter Brown for sharing

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's National Punctation Day!

Ross, this one's for you... and. Dear Readers, for you, to forward to

"Most of us who are picky about punctuation—we like to think of ourselves as fastidious, thank you very much—are content to silently grumble when we come across an errant apostrophe on a restaurant menu, or a meaningless set of quotation marks."

Some take it further: this is why Jeff Rubin launched National Punctuation Day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

stretched to the breaking point

"Mass higher education has brought social mobility to millions worldwide, but as access expands and academia is stretched to breaking point, standards are in steady decline, writes Philip Altbach

It might seem a contradiction that widening access would bring inequality to higher education, but trends show that is exactly what happens. Institutions that cater to mass access provide vastly different quality, facilities and focus than do elite institutions, and this gulf has widened as access has expanded worldwide. Furthermore, mass higher education has, for a majority of students, lowered quality and increased dropout rates.

However, even if these consequences have become inevitable and logical, they do not justify a move to reduce access but rather call for a more realistic understanding of the implications of 'massification' and the steps needed to improve the problems created by dramatic increases in enrolments."

rereading the university

Higher ed as a beached whale, cartoon by Peter Nicholson in The Australian

More annotated links about highered topics ~ colleges, curricula, students, reform, change and so on ~ from Omnivore, the Book Forum blog: rereading the university

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a novel & a history

Adjunct life on interwebz groupz and listservz is all gobsmacked (but in a good way) by the prospect of an echte adjunct novel, Alex Kudera's Fight for the Long Day + protagonist with his own Facebook page, telling it like is (at least the author's particular lifeslice). Will non-adjuncts buy it, read it, get it? Will it - gasp - go mainstream? Make a difference (be still my beating heart)? Until then, we still have to get up in the morning and sally forth teaching. For many that means composition and with it, commenting on student writing. We're fighting a long day too. 

Academic blogger, if not still adjunct then recently enough so to count, Dr Davis writes in A History of Freshman Composition — Teaching College English, "I studied under Jim Berlin and he would not agree with much that was written here, both in terms of history and in terms of whether it was good or bad. I found the article startling (freshman comp began as a remedial course?) and interesting (classes did that?).

Freshman Comp, Then and Now says:
Over the almost four decades that I’ve been a college English professor, I have seen many changes, some good and many bad. One of the worst changes is the transformation of the freshman composition course.
I was not teaching college (or anything else) in the 70s, but I taught as he did when I first started in the mid-80s. You might be surprised by how well it worked."

So did I - and remember being taught that way too. What about you? Anyway, read both and maybe the novel too. Or write your own.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

COCAL IX on the radio

Mainstream media coverage of COCAL IX was less than comprehensive. However, Montreal CKUT's Labor Radio program covered COCAL IX on FM 90.3. Audio files for the program are available, archived on the internet. 

Go to and click on Programming and Archives. When a a screen pops up with a weekly schedule; click on the icon in the Thursday 17-18:00 hour. On the next screen, click on the icon of September 16. 

This broadcast features Karen Hawley, Gabreil Nadeau, Maria Teresa Luchega, Sheila Tully, Helen Worthen, Ann Wiegard, Joe Berry. August 19 features Vince Tirelli and Cindy Oliver. September 14th, David Robinson and Sandra Schroeder. September 6, Puma Freytag and Jean Trudelle. Others to follow... maybe even Jack and Longmate and Frank Cosco presenting Program for Change (now morphed into a Vision) and NFM discussion of same.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Education Town Hall: Be Heard

As part of its weeklong "Education Nation" summit, NBC News is hosting a Teacher Town Hall with Brian Williams. The Teacher Town Hall is an opportunity for teachers from across the country to share ideas about how to improve education in America.

The Town Hall will air live on MSNBC at 12:00pm (EST) on Sunday, September 26th. Make your voice heard. To participate in the virtual Town Hall open forum and live voting, please register today at:

The registration form will ask you to identify one big issue for them to consider. Tell them improving working conditions for adjunct/contingent faculty will improve the quality of education.

If this sounds potentially interesting to you, please register. That's again in case you missed it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CC Summit: ubi sunt precariat?

And other community college faculty for that matter, although the precariat teaches an even higher % of courses there than in 4-year colleges and universities. Announcement hoopla aside, mostly we were pumped because an adjunct, albeit one with health insurance and connections, would be presiding over the summit.  A dry season of silence followed our euphoria, but now that summitry approaches, there is a White House statement/press release posted on the White House Community College page (a temp page, it would seem)

When summit press releases (many copies of the same) hit my reader, I checked the page, thought "how disappointing" - but without surprise. The signs were there all along, no matter what we all hoped or how much possibility we saw in a summit preside over by an adjunct. We all sent messages that went, for the most part, unanswered, and apparently ignored.

The White House said Wednesday that the summit will provide a forum for community college administrators, business leaders, philanthropists, government officials and students to discuss how these schools can help the U.S. have the most educated work force in the world.

Says it all... invisible again + career ed focus, business as usual ... sighing deeply, but I'm not slinking off into silence and hope you won't either. There is a site just for gathering ideas and opinions, as well as commenting and voting on them. Crowdsource it ... bring on the folksomonies. Go there: if you don't want to leave your opinion, leave a comment. While you are there, vote for every post advocating for adjuncts and other ideas you want considered. Last I checked (yesterday), pro-adjunct positions were #1 and #2 in the pack. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oct 5, NYU: Book Party

Come celebrate the publication of The Lost Soul of Higher Education with the author, Ellen Schrecker, Tuesday, October 5th, 6-8pm, NYU Tamiment Library, 70 Washington Square South 10th floor, NY, NY 10012
Co-sponsored by The Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center and The NYU Tamiment Library



AAUP Endorses October 7th Action

Time for more of us to consider doing the same. The mission statement shows that the movement is also supports workplace equity, fair practices for faculty and staff. Topping th list:

1) Full/adequate funding for high quality, equal-access education -- In K-12, which is already free, the focus is on equal access and quality. In higher ed, it's some version of affordable or free. But the basic idea all around is better funding and stop making poor people pay more.
2) Anti-privatization -- This includes being anti-charter in k-12, it includes opposition to raising student tuition and fees to compensate for state cutbacks in higher ed, and it can include being against other privatization schemes, outsourcing, union-busting etc.
3) Worker Rights in Education -- Opposition to layoffs, pay cuts, furloughs, speedups, and all the other tactics that have been used in all sectors to squeeze more work out of educators for less money.

October 7, 2010, has been designated a national day of action to defend public education and to protest its privatization.  The AAUP supports these efforts.

Privatization in higher education in recent decades has brought disproportionate increases in:

  • non-educational, administrative expenditures;
  • tuition/fees, with related proportional declines in state support;
  • contingent faculty who are hired and fired at whim, with limited if any protections for being academically demanding (a few unhappy student "customers" can equal complaints and non-renewal), or for addressing controversial topics in their teaching and research (often on key public policy issues) in the full range of fields in academe, including science and engineering; &
  • many costly ventures that too often fail for they are undertaken with too little consultation with the professionals who do the academy's work.

Such patterns have compromised the provision of affordable, quality higher education for all who are qualified, the independent pursuit of knowledge in the public interest, the vitality of the academic profession as a national resource, and the ability and freedom of academics to fully engage students and to pursue knowledge.

We encourage our members and chapters to organize and participate in activities on October 7, 2010, that call attention to the extraordinary costs of the current policy path.  In many ways, in many cases, and for many years privatization in higher education has largely failed, with the costs being passed on to students.  We must defend and invest in not-for-profit higher education to provide access and success for new generations of students to quality higher education at a reasonable cost, and to advance knowledge in the service of the common good.

The strength of our nation's higher education system is a function of the strength and academic freedom of its academics and professionals, and of their ability to exercise an independent voice in shared governance in shaping the path of the academy.  Both conditions are grounded in the broad provision of academic due process and peer review exemplified in the tenure system. 

 The founders of the AAUP understood and articulated that in their original declaration of principles.  We reaffirm that message today.  And we call on our members to exercise their collective voice on October 7, 2010, in defense of not-for-profit higher education.

Gary Rhoades, General Secretary, AAUP

Friday, September 10, 2010

productivity & procrastination

Both come in sundry shapes and disguises. Obsessing over productivity may be a form of procrastination, so is writing about them but not as much as research surfing and thinking about writing about them. Making lists: productivity, procrastination, productive procrastination? I did finally get around to checking and resetting Twitterfeed to auto-post @NewFacMajority to our Facebook page. Hope it works ~ no telling when I'll get back to it again if it doesn't. Sometimes I contemplate the lineaments of a perpetual motion auto-posting system.

This from College Misery (snarky fun, procrastination but surely an antidote for something)

More fun than productivity tips, right? But here's from today's do list just to demonstrate my good intentions... and procrastinate

AAUP Conference Shared Governance

Registration is now open for the AAUP Shared Governance Conference and Workshops. This special event will take place November 12–14, 2010, at Washington's stylish Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, home to Art and Soul, one of DC's best new restaurants.

The conference will feature three days of presentations exploring important aspects of college and university governance, an opportunity to network with governance leaders from across the country, plus expert-led training workshops for governance leaders and those aspiring to positions of leadership.

Professor Judith Areen, interim dean and Paul Regis Dean Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, will deliver the keynote Neil Rapport Lecture.

This will be a unique opportunity to learn about best practices in faculty governance. Hear experts' advice about empowering faculty and developing an effective faculty voice on your campus on matters of concern to you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome to Ohio Mr President ~ NFM Press Release

New Faculty Majority Challenges President Obama: Extend Economic Proposals to Adjunct Faculty
Akron, Ohio - September 8, 2010 - New Faculty Majority President Maria Maisto challenged President Obama to take action on the issue of the mistreatment of adjunct and contingent faculty on American college and university campuses.  The president was in Cleveland, Ohio today to deliver a speech at Cuyahoga Community College, where Ms. Maisto serves as an adjunct instructor in English.  
 "It's great that the president came to my campus to address the economy today," said Ms. Maisto, "because we know that he understands the critical role of higher education in driving economic growth.  
"Unfortunately, however, while it is clear that his concern for the middle class is real, neither his economic recovery plan nor his higher education agenda directly assists the hundreds of thousands of adjunct faculty in the United States who do not receive a living wage, have little job security, are typically denied unemployment compensation when they aren't working, and do not have access to affordable health care." 
"These professionals need economic relief, and they need it now.  They did their part.  They went to college, earned an advanced degree, and are giving back to the next generation of students.  But they are treated like second class citizens in the institutions that depend upon them to teach the highest possible number of critical introductory courses across the curriculum."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Multiple Ways to Salvation: Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments

.... an article reposted verbatim from the AAUP Newsletter but with selected passages highlighted for emphasis. Comments invited, may be posted anonymously or under pseudonym. Trolls must stay under the bridge and will not be fed. 

Personally, I can't help being curious about the identity and specific affiliations of these unnamed administrators supporting tenure. What is the distribution of opinion across kinds of higher ed institutions as well as public/ private and non-profit / for-profit divides? Will all adjuncts get some kind of tenure? Will only the tenured teach? If not across the board, then where? What will happen to the rest? If institutions are unwilling to come on board, what means are available to "persuade" them to reconsider?  

How do you think think AAUP's take on tenure conundrum compare's to our own Program for Change? Is there a middle way? Ways? And then there is implementation. So far, no group advocating this level of change (whether similar or antithetical) has the authority to "make it so."

But most important ~ we now have a discussion. Let's keep it going and as open as possible. May the disgruntled speak out instead of whispering behind the scenes. If everyone, in the name of delicacy or whatever, waits for each stake holding group to reach a consensus, I may already have expired from age related infirmities and impatience.... and probably won't be the only one. 

 The AAUP's latest report discusses a growing consensus: Institutions that employ teaching-intensive faculty should hire them and evaluate their teaching through the rigorous system of peer review known as the tenure system. As E. Gordon Gee, the United States's highest-paid university president puts it, campus employers must preserve "multiple ways to salvation" inside the tenure system—even at research-intensive institutions.

As the report notes, tenure was designed as a "big tent" to unite faculty of diverse interests and workplace priorities. It was not designed as a merit badge for research-intensive faculty or as a fence to exclude those with teaching-intensive commitments.
Before 1970, as today, most full-time faculty appointments were teaching-intensive. Nearly all full-time teaching-intensive positions were on the tenure track. Most faculty who spent most of their time teaching were also campus and professional citizens—with clear roles in shared governance and access to support for research or professional activity.

Today, campus employers have shunted the majority of teaching-intensive positions outside of the tenure system. This has in most cases meant a dramatic shift from "teaching-intensive" appointments to "teaching-only" appointments, featuring a faculty with attenuated relationships to campus and disciplinary peers.

This seismic shift from "teaching-intensive" faculty within the big tent of tenure to "teaching-only" faculty outside of it has a direct impact on student retention and achievement, as a growing body of evidence clearly demonstrates.

The central question we have to face in connection with this historic change is clear: Should more classroom teaching be done by faculty supported by the rigorous peer scrutiny of the tenure system? Most of the evidence says yes, and a host of diverse voices agree. This view brings together students, faculty, and legislators; the AAUP; and even many administrators.

In opposition to this trend, campuses across the country have taken bold steps to stabilize the crumbling faculty infrastructure. Concerned legislators and some academic administrators have joined faculty associations in calling for dramatic reductions in the reliance on contingent appointments, commonly urging a maximum of 25 percent. 

Read the report, Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments, which was approved by the Committee on Contingency and the Profession. Or visit the AAUP Web site to learn more about our work on contingent faculty appointments.

Report prepared by Mayra Besosa (Spanish), California State University, San Marcos, co-chair, and Marc Bousquet (English), Santa Clara University, co-chair AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession

The AAUP Online is an electronic newsletter of the American Association of University Professors.  Learn more about the AAUP. Visit us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Six Songs for Labor Day 2010

For the day now ending. Watch, listen .... sing along

1st Labor Day Parade, New York City, 1882

Mayn Rue Platz, by Morris Rosenfeld sung by June Tabor

Millworker by James Taylor, sung by Bruce Springsteen

Solidarity Forever by Ralph Chaplin, sung by UAW members at Ford Auto

Part of the Union by the Strawbs

Labour Day song -- the Nightwatchmen

Step by Step -- Jackson Browne


CFP: Scribe

Working on something Labor Day + AdCon Labor appropriate ~ working my way through a surfeit of richnesses. Until then, this ~ reposted from Teaching College English (on my rss feed reader and Adjunct bloglist)

Scribe: A Journal of Writing Perspectives and Pedagogy in Two-Year Colleges is up an running but need your help.
We are looking for essays to be published in our first issue, coming out in December. If you are interested, please send your submissions to
Submission Guidelines

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This came in today's rss feeds: Evolution or Revolution, from Ray Watkins' Writing in the Wild. 

Wow! Is this how it feels to be "historical"? Beats being lambasted by a cranky dean. Now head on over to Program for Change and join the conversation with those who have already posted comments. You don't have to agree with us either. If you don't, we want to hear about it. You are welcome to post comments under pseudonym if necessary or preferred. Come be historical with us. We're putting the ball in play but can't carry it alone.

In 25 or 50 years, when someone or other, most likely a graduate student, writes a history of U.S. Higher Education in our time, the New Faculty Majority “Program for Change: 2010-2030” will have to play a key role. I don’t think it matters if the particulars of the program are achieved or not; its historical importance is its attempt to imagine a new employment system in U.S. higher education using a model developed largely in California and Canada. I think that it’s broad enough to be useful to almost anyone interested in reforming higher education. It’s our, “What is to be Done.”
OK, maybe it’s only our “Port Huron Statement.” Hopefully, in articulating this vision, the NFM has signaled the nadir of the current system. I think the proposed system makes a lot of sense; it touches on all of the key problems. 

Then head over to Writing in the Wild and tell Ray "thank you" from us (again). Please note changes here too. Just to remind you, I've added a screenshot thumbnail + link to the sidebar, top right. Other changes: a page with Maria's letter about the Program; news feed on the top of the page; improved blogroll. 

Yes, it's been slow here, and, no, the dog didn't eat my keyboard. I've been busy herding poets, but that's over for the season. I'll be blogging here more diligently. 
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