Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chronicle Facebook page

The Chronicle of Higher Education, that Grey Lady of the academic press, has a Facebook page. OK the Chronicle did not put up the page and does not manage it. There is no wall for visitors to post on. You can, however, leave comments on posted links.  Direct Facebook access to Chronicle blogs will speed up sharing on the NFM Facebook page.

The page is bot generated from a Wikipedia entry and fed by syndicated rss feeds of Chronicle articles and references on Facebook. No humans involved (or employed).

Check out the profile picture. Yes, that's the issue with Maria Maisto on the cover. Hope they keep and that the page does not auto-refresh for new images. If so, at least I captured this one.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Names 101: By Any Other Name

Guest post by New Faculty Majority's Anne Wiegard, previously published in Cortland Cause, SUNY Cortland's UUP chapter's April 2011 newsletter. Every year, Cause wins awards in a competition of all the SUNY chapter newsletters.

Students unhesitatingly call us “Professor,” for that is who we are to them. They do not know that almost everyone else we work with is either confused or in conflict about the proper designation for faculty teaching off the tenure track.

Sadly, though contingent academic employees are faculty, they know that communications addressed generally to “Faculty,” are often not actually intended for them, in the same way that women in the 1950s knew that memos addressed generally to employees were usually understood to pertain only to males.  Men were the norm, so a memo only applied to women if specifically qualified, as in “Female Employees” or perhaps given a separate category altogether, as in “The Secretarial Pool.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Names 101, the catalog description + addenda

Behind and between, as usual. I'll start with a few words about the title. Names 101 is a series or regular feature (depending on its endurance level and mine). Since the series actually started with the guest post, "Administrative Term Adjunct is a Falsehood" by Tom Paine #2, the introduction is something of an afterthought. I also have a guest post by New Faculty Secretary Board Member and Secretary Anne Wiegard (English, SUNY Cortland) in drafts but ready to roll, plus a few more "promised." A series introduction is overdue. With it comes an invitation to comment or contribute a guest post (email to

Any faculty member, even among the Tenured and Tracked clans, and, one would hope, most other staff and administrators are no doubt aware that what to call NTT faculty (researchers and librarians included) can be a thorny topic calling forth strong reactions. Some find the adjunct designation "highly offensive." Others don't mind as long as you don't call them adjuncts (hinting at hidden tier lines within the NTT tier). Still others could care less and consider the fuss a bit much. As one commented, "like pilots arguing in the cockpit while the airplane is crashing." There is also a contingent, if one can use the term, who feel that calling themselves Adjunct is an act of defiance. If that weren't enough, unions, professional associations, administrators, Department of Labor, faculty handbook job descriptions, keywords and standard online search terms can't agree either. Maybe we need a whole new, baggage free name

Both the Contingent Academics List and the New Faculty Majority  ~ full name ~ Coalition of Adjunct and Contingent Faculty try to cover both bases, give a nod to each. Periodically, the subject will come up on list, although it hasn't for a while. Let's take the initiative: describe, explain and name ourselves.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Names 101: The Precarious Brigade

I'm not sure how or even whether the UK Precarious Workers Brigade fits into 'naming' series (or whatever I end up calling it and about which I have yet to post an already belated introduction). For now, I say yes. Consider the definition, precarious workers in culture & education, and decide for yourself. Including creative workers (how Gramsci) expands scope and should remind us that college instructors in creative disciplines are predominantly adjunct/contingent faculty. Further, the precariat identifies with other labor areas defined below

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class … "Unlike the proletariat – the industrial working class on which 20th century social democracy was built – the precariat's relations of production are defined by partial involvement in labour combined with extensive 'work-for-labour', a growing array of unremunerated activities that are essential if they are to retain access to jobs and to decent earnings." Guy Standing

I came across the page just today, serendipity via a link post at Defend Education Ohio, just one of many in the Defend Public Education network. All are now in my feed reader: expect to see more of them,
Selections from Related Clippings (note inclusion of How the University Works)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

News from New Faculty Majority, Issue: #7

Table of Contents

  • Continuing to Move Forward
  • NFM's Health Insurance Plan Launches
  • Meet the NFM Board
  • NFM and the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education
  • How to Organize or Raise Awareness on Your Campus
  • Present the Facts
  • My Experience as an Adjunct: A Tale of 2 Faculties
  • A Word from NFM's Treasurer
  • Follow Your School's Re-accreditation Process
  • Announcements
Continuing to Move Forward by Maria Maisto, NFM President

Dear Colleagues:

One of the lessons that every teacher learns is that you can't be a good teacher without being attuned to what it feels like to be a student. Over the last two years as we have worked to get NFM up and running, all of us on the NFM Board have periodically found ourselves feeling very much like our students: alternately confident and confused, often elated and occasionally dejected, determined but exhausted, sober but energized. We try to remind each other that while our objectives are ambitious, every step we take is instrumental, and every new member who joins us is a reminder of the first steps we all took to become activists for change and of the hopes that we all had, and continue to have, for NFM as an agent of change.

That's why we're especially proud to announce that, after some unexpected delays, our health insurance initiative has officially launched! Thanks to the tireless work of Board member Tracy Donhardt, NFM members can now obtain health insurance in most states. As Tracy explains, some states are excluded, so we are working to see what might be available in those states excluded by the carrier with whom we have partnered. Keep checking back for updated information, and if you know of plans (or other solutions) that might be accessible to contingent faculty, please let us know.

We are also thrilled to report that our nascent 501(c)3 foundation will be receiving grants from The Ford Foundation and the French American Charitable Trust to support the educational, outreach, advocacy and research effort embodied in our January 28, 2012 "summit" on contingent academic employment in Washington DC. This meeting, to be held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, will launch a nationwide effort to mobilize all stakeholders in higher education - faculty, administrators, students, legislators, and the public - to work together to achieve FTE - Fair Trade in Education for faculty and students. Naturally, we want to have a healthy contingent of contingent faculty at this event, so keep up to date on plans for this summit at the NFM Foundation website:

Names 101: Administrative Term; Adjunct. is a Falsehood

Editor's note (forewords, like afterwords, being traditional and jealously guarded prerogatives): hopefully the perennial but yet to be resolved topic of what to call ourselves and why will draw contributors and commenters out of silent seclusion for lively but respectful dialog and productive discussion. Over the transom contributions in the name of your choice (subject to personal editorial standards) are welcomed and cherished. Confidentiality and troll free zone guaranteed. 

The yet to be named (appreciate the irony?) series opens with a piece from Thomas Paine 2nd.  Naming suggestions invited for this series, the first of many Discussions for Change to follow. A more detailed preliminary post and true foreword will follow in due course. 

Here's to more common sense in the profession. (Aside to TP2 wannabes: don't nick this nic. It's taken).

The Administrative Term, "Adjunct," is a Falsehood 

The dictionary stresses that "adjunct" is an auxiliary role. Yet here I am staring down at a contract with the term "adjunct" next to my name and realizing that I will be as central in my classroom, and as much an authority over my curriculum, as I was as an associate professor. Since 9/11 I have had a gradual, rude awakening that the field I had embarked upon as a chipper graduate student at MIT was dissolving into a "managed education" nightmare where the noble role of a professor, and the profundities of the world presented by such, was being undercut at every turn by a generation of under-educated managers. A majority of these people have no roots in teaching, research or the arts. They just don't "see" what they are destroying.

A shallow business culture has replaced the passions and commitment once embodied by men and women of letters, and this ethic is beginning to permeate the rest of society. Money is earmarked for plush office furniture, dining hall remodeling and administrator salaries. This money is taken wholesale from faculty and staff salaries. Students and their parents are prevented from seeing the shift in priorities, the intellectual pogrom as it were, because the expensive marketers hired by these same administrations insist on calling all teachers "members of the faculty."

Yet we "adjuncts" are under pressure from every quarter to do the same job of a properly paid professor. Students, parents, evaluation rituals, and an endless stream of administration memos ask us to rise to the occasion and do our part to fill in the gap left over by the insincere budgeting. And this compensation begins right at the starting gate. I recall how the department chair who hired me waved my résumé in the air and excitedly showed it to a colleague. He had no hesitation in praising my professional value. I was lead to believe that the administration hired me because they needed an authority on my subject and no one else at that college could handle the material. They boasted that I would receive the "highest pay" for an adjunct, yet this was less than half that of professors who were younger, less experienced and with fewer children to feed. It's a total disgrace.

How can any of this be happening? Who am I actually adjunct to? To whom or what am I a supplement?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Understanding Society: Civil society in a globalizing world

This post on Understanding Society, a sociology blog caught my eye ~ no mean feat as many feeds as I have in my reader. However, this blog always gets an extra look because the articles are interesting, relevant and imminently readable. A hard to beat combination, too rare in much academic writing.

This post on civil society is especially relevant because of recent initiatives, adjuncts taking matters into their own hands: NFM's new health insurance initiative; Anna Spiro's one woman (now two) "A is for Adjunct" awareness campaign; 'Junct Rebellion's Adjunct Emergency Fund; 2012 summit on contingency ~ and because it landed in my reader while I was working on a piece about adjuncts taking the initiative to connect with other adjuncts and adjunct/contingent faculty groups, start self-help initiative.

Now I think the topic needs to be developed into a series. The adjunct condition is part of globalization and the global precariat. I'm sure there are other adjuncts. individuals and groups, out there working on initiatives, and I want to hear from you

"An important component of western political theory since Locke and Rousseau is the notion of civil society—the idea of a society in which members have a variety of cross-cutting activities and associations, and where the state is not the sole source of social power. On this conception, a civil society is one that is characterized by multiple associations, free activities and choices by individuals, and a framework of law that assures rights and liberties for all citizens. It is a society with multiple forms of power and influence, minimizing the potential for exploitation and domination by powerful elites or the state. And it is a society in which citizens have developed a sense of mutual respect and consideration for each other. The fact of civil association serves to enhance the strength of collective identities among citizens, by building new loyalties and affiliations."
Understanding Society: Civil society in a globalizing world


We at New Faculty Majority would like to express our appreciation to ...
This summer, Lee Cutler, New York State United Teachers’ Secretary-Treasurer, was once again instrumental in providing New Faculty Majority (NFM) a $2,500 grant from NYSUT in support of our work on behalf of contingent faculty. Cutler is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where he has also taught as an adjunct in the Humanistic/Multicultural Education program. For 24 years, Cutler worked as a middle-level English language arts teacher. High on his agenda is a concern for workers rights, social justice and unionization on an international level.
NYSUT represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA) and the AFL-CIO. 
Thanks to NFM Founding and Board Member Peter Brown for submitting and again to NUSUT for their support

Monday, August 1, 2011

Newsletter ToC

News from New Faculty Majority, the NFM bi-monthly newsletter went out to members this morning. Usually I wait until the next day to post here on the blog and sending contents winging out to connected social media. First in line for the newsletter is a membership perk. Later, back issues are archived on the blog. Consider this a less than subtle reminder to join. This time, you get the ToC in advance.

President's Message: Continuing to Move Forward
Maria Maisto's newsletter message recaps recent and upcoming notices, activities and projects: new health insurance initiative; nascent 501(c)3 NFM Foundation; grants from The Ford Foundation and the French American Charitable Trust; our January 28, 2012 "summit" on contingent academic employment in Washington DC; ongoing efforts encouraging faculty unions to include and support contingent/ adjunct faculty members; our participation in the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE) advocating faculty-led reform; CFHE's November 4-6 Boston meeting; Campus Equity Week 2011 (October 24-28). 
Campus Equity Week 2011, October 24-28, is a week-long, national campaign to highlight the problems associated with contingency and the lack of equity on campuses across the country. Start planning now for events on your campuses, and let us know of your plans so we can help publicize them.

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