Sunday, April 20, 2014

#adjunct Links & Commentary from #KeithHoeller (weekly)

…Issue #1 blogging materials and words from and on behalf of legendary (but social media averse) adjunct activist, Keith Hoeller. This project is still in Beta, so expect changes. I edited the the auto-blogged bookmarks to tidy up format, added the vintage image of a 1907 classroom, and rearranged the order to lead with the NY Times OpEd, related links and commentary, including a copy of Keith's unpublished letter to the editor, plus a link to the published response letters—all above the fold. And there is still plenty to read after it, maybe too much. Have patience while I work out the kinks. I'm getting my blogging mojo back. With that comes more and better content posted more often. I'll work on the shorter posts thing too. Promise...

  • from The New York Times Editorial Board. It would be great if folks would write letters to the editor. Many people are sure to write in favor of the editorial's point of view. The email for letters is You need to include your snail mail address and phone number (though they won't print them of course). Here is the letter I just sent: While I am delighted that the NewYork Times has at long last noticed that higher education has been making use of three-quarters of a million part-time faculty, I am chagrined at the position you have taken, claiming that "the community colleges have to do a better job of screening the part-time instructors they hire, and developing their skills, which means providing mentors...." You relied on a study conducted by the Center for the Study of Community College Engagement and funded by an insurance company (Metlife). The Center's Advisory Board is dominated by community college administrators, including at least six presidents. No adjuncts appear to have been involved in the design of the study. Not surprisingly, the Center has deflected blame on to state legislators and the adjuncts themselves. But college presidents and trustees have not been lobbying their states for more money for adjunct faculty, just the opposite. In Colorado presidents recently led the charge to defeat a bill that would have provided equal pay for all of the part-timers in the community colleges. The study was not scientific. Indeed, it relied on self-report surveys and drew from "from 32 focus groups conducted with part-time faculty, full-time faculty, administrators, and staff at community colleges across the country." While the study produced some correlations, it did not control for all of the variables and the center was left to speculate as to the causes. In other words, the results of the study were more likely simply the perceptions the various players had about part-time faculty. Many of us have long argued that contingent faculty form a lower "caste" in higher ed. So these negative perceptions are not surprising. Moreover, you ignored a large study conducted by Northwestern University that dealt with full-time faculty. Researchers studied actual outcomes at ten colleges and universities and found that non-tenure-track faculty were actually better teachers than their tenure-track counterparts. At the very least, this shows what contingent faculty can do when provided with proper support. There is no reason to believe that part-time faculty, given the same support as the full-time, tenure-track faculty, wouldn't also excel. I highlighted this study in your "Sunday Dialogue: Academia's Two Tracks," published in the Times on November 16 last year. Sincerely, Keith Hoeller, Ph.D. Editor, Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System (Vanderbilt University Press). Tags:  nytimes
  • A Special Report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement. This center's advisory board is dominated by college administrators. While the sample size is large, this study is based on self-report surveys and "also draws from 32 focus groups conducted with part-time faculty, full-time faculty, administrators, and staff at community colleges across the country. Colleges participating in the focus groups represent a cross-section of U.S. community colleges—large and small; urban and rural; and diverse in terms of geography, presence of unions, and students served."  It has a number of correlations and then speculates about what they mean. It does not appear to have controlled for all the possible variables involved. Is it a scientific research study or an amalgam of people's perceptions of part-time faculty?  Tags: KH_links
  • Since the issue of strikes has come up several times, I thought the following recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic would be of some importance to many on this list. The list defines major strikes as involving 1,000 or more workers, and lists the number for each year since 1947. Last year (2013) there were 15, though none appear to involve teachers or professors; in 1947 there were 270. In 1980, the year Ronald Reagan ran for President, major work stoppages dropped below 200 and have stayed below since then. I believe the Professional Air Traffic Controller's Strike was in 1981. In 1982 the number dropped below 100, below 50 in 1987, and has stayed below 22 since 2002. A good recent book on unions is called "What Unions No Longer Do" by a sociologist names Jake Rosenfeld who has used good documentation. Another good book on this topic is called "Reviving the Strike," by Joe Burns.
  • "And if you are contingent faculty who are paid a pittance and have no security, it's time to join the movement to unionize adjuncts. Actually, if you are tenure track you should also join the movement to support contingent faculty members in their efforts to secure fair labor practices. Organize, organize, organize." TagsKH_links
  • about campus novel, John Williams' 1965 novel Stoner John Williams' forgotten classic, Stoner, resonates especially now that the ideals its characters hold-the university as refuge for the sensitive, inquisitive types-have been so thoroughly crushed. The danger Stoner perceived was of allowing those who didn't truly value learning to infiltrate university life. Forty years later, the university is no longer a refuge for the dispossessed, but an engine of dispossession. Most scholars, after a long and expensive struggle in pursuit of pure learning, are returned to the world after all. Tagsprofessorsadjunctacademic laboruniversity cultureKH_links
  • "As lecturers in the UK prepare for the UCU’s marking boycott, US campuses are experiencing a surge of unionisation According to census figures, union membership in the US has fallen from 28 per cent to a record low of 11 per cent in less than 50 years. And if struggling unions can’t even find new members in the automotive industry, on which they once famously had an iron grip, where can they. In universities, apparently. As American unions face embarrassing setbacks elsewhere, union activity at US universities is raging among full-time faculty in Illinois, part-time faculty in Washington DC and Boston, graduate research assistants in Michigan and even student athletes." Tags: KH_links, pdf, TimesHigherEd
  • The following appeared on, Apr 12, 2014 Adjunct faculty members are the working stiffs of academia. They can hold their own with tenured faculty on subjects ranging from analytic geometry to literary criticism. But they work for short money, often in the $3,000-$6,000 range per course. This is red meat for the Service Employees International Union, which has mounted successful efforts to unionize adjunct faculty at private universities, including American University and George Washington University. The current “Adjunct Action’’ is focused on Northeastern University, with Boston University up next.
  • "The average full-time faculty salary at UMaine is around $80,000, according to Director of Public Relations Margaret Nagle. That includes lecturers, who work under an Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine contract, though they are not tenure-eligible. “The pay is OK for the area,” said Canniff, who holds a master’s degree in poetry from UMaine. The adjunct faculty member is in debt and cannot make interest payments on his student loans, he said. As the budget shrinks and the number of freshmen grows, UMaine is relying more on faculty members like Canniff, who are not on a path to tenure and are paid less than professors. This trend has been exacerbated by a $36 million budget shortfall systemwide, $9.7 million of which UMaine must come up with in order to pass a balanced budget for fiscal year 2015. As part of that effort, 30 faculty members at UMaine who have left or are leaving teaching positions will not be replaced. Most of those positions were tenured, according to Jeffrey Hecker, provost and vice president for academic affairs. He identified music and English as departments that will be hit particularly hard as a result of the budget cuts." Tags: KH_links, Maine
  • Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in Ypsilanti, Michigan issued layoff notices to ten of its eleven full-time non-tenured faculty in the College of Education. Some have been with the university for decades. The layoffs are effective for the fall semester of 2014. No part-time faculty were laid off, reflecting the administration's alignment with a national trend toward less experienced, lower-salaried faculty. Those faculty who did not receive the layoff notice reported seeing the writing on the wall in terms of increased class sizes, increased work loads, and worsening conditions. .... Last month Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the two-tier system by Keith Hoeller was published. In it Hoeller, longtime adjunct professor of philosophy at Green River Community College in Washington, states, “one million professors now teach off the tenure track and make up 75 percent of all college professors. “Throughout the country, college administrators, often with the collaboration of academic unions, have gone to great lengths to keep their increasing numbers of adjunct faculty secret from students, parents, legislators, accreditors, foundations, and the public.” Hoeller chronicles a “new academic labor system under which the explosion of graduate students and the abuse and overuse of adjunct and non-tenure-track faculty is the most prominent characteristic of a new employment strategy sometimes referred to as the two- or multi-tiered labor system.
  • "You may not be able to tell which professors are full-time and which are adjunct. These titles, however, mean very different things. Contingent, often referred to as adjunct, faculty are part-time workers hired semester by semester. They have no job security, no benefits and are paid far less than full-time professors. Dana Professor of Psychology Richie Zweigenhaft is working on a report with the American Association of University Professors about Guilford’s adjuncts. The report reveals contingent faculty made up 51 percent of the teaching body in 2012. At Guilford’s peer and aspirant institutions, adjuncts make up, on average, 34 percent and 28 percent respectively." Tags: KH_links
  • "Do professors at George Washington University have a bullying problem? The new chair of its Board of Trustees might think so, and he's expressed concern that non-tenure-track faculty members are on the receiving end of that bullying. To address the issue, the chair has said he's taking steps to extend academic freedom and greater access to shared governance to those without tenure. While some faculty applaud the new focus on non-tenure-track faculty concerns, others have questioned the validity of the chair's findings and the board’s involvement in faculty-faculty relations. Others have called out the university for criticizing a problem -- adjunct inequality -- its leaders helped create" .... "Keith Hoeller, a non-tenure-track faculty advocate and founder of the Washington Part-Time Faculty Association, said the issue of bullying adjuncts is real, and it isn't specific to George Washington. The “two-tier” system of faculty -- those with tenure and those without – inevitably results in such abuses, he said. “When you have a two-track system and the tenured faculty serve as de facto supervisors of the contingent faculty, then you have a situation that’s rife for bullying.” ¶  Guest comment: In my experience, bullying is pervasive in academe, so this does not surprise me at all. I have one friend who was bullied out of a job as a full professor -- they made her life so miserable she left -- and another who wishes she could leave, but needs the income. I have also been bullied out of administrative jobs, but I have the experience to go elsewhere. In academe, bullies bully for multiple reasons: because they feel righteous ("I'm defending the academic integrity of the college") or threatened by an outsider with new ideas (faculty in many smaller institutions never have to deal with someone coming in from the outside who isn't a new assistant professor) or jealous (what's so special about her? MY work is more important!) or any one of a host of other reasons. The fact that tenure precludes any job-change -- how many associate or full-professors will EVER get a chance to leave for another job? -- just makes it worse, because the victims can't leave without losing their jobs, and how many are willing to do that? Someone described tenure to me as the marriage from which there is no divorce. Well, if you're married to a bully, you can leave; but, if you're in a college/university working with bullies, you're out of luckTags: KH_links
  • Few modern unions have done more outside hiring than the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), America's second largest labor organization. Beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing unabated today, SEIU and its local affiliates have employed tens of thousands of non-members as organizers, servicing reps, researchers, education specialists, PR people, and staffers of other kinds. While most unions hire and promote largely from within (i.e. from the ranks of their working members), SEIU has always cast its net wider. It has welcomed energetic refugees from other unions, promising young student activists, former community organizers, ex-environmentalists, Democratic Party campaign operatives, and political exiles from abroad. Many, if not most, of SEIU's outside hires no longer work for the union, in part because of its penchant for "management by churn." This means that its network of distinguished alumni today is far larger than its current national and local workforce, which is not small. And not all of these SEIU alums have fond memories of their tour of duty in purple, the union's signature color. For an institution that demands great loyalty from its staff, SEIU is not known for its reciprocal attachment to those who do its bidding. Ex-SEIUers include many dedicated, hard-working organizers who were useful for a while, until they were not. Jane McAlevey, author of Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting For the Labor Movement (Verso Books, 2012) even became a member of the SEIU national executive before she too was cast aside. Her resulting fury, or political frustration, is reflected in many parts of her new memoir about being undermined and driven out. Tags: KH_links
  • "Yesterday, Broward College adjunct professor Evan Rowe fired a warning signal when he announced via an article published in New Times that he is starting a union for adjunct faculty and may organize a strike. Adjuncts make up about 60 percent of BC's teaching staff, and Rowe says the max he can earn per year teaching a full load is $16,000. Because of scheduling this term, he's been assigned only a half load, meaning he'll make $8,000.Last night, the college issued a statement suggesting that it may indeed raise adjuncts' pay this summer. The statement also said the college hoped to avoid a strike and pointed out that Florida law makes it illegal for employees of public institutions to strike.The Florida constitution states that "no public employee or employee organization may participate in a strike against a public employer by instigating or supporting, in any manner, a strike." Tags: KH_links
Posted from Diigo. The rest of Keith Hoeller's PT Faculty Links & Commentary group favorite links are here.


  1. What a great post: look forward to more from more independent voices!

    Ana M. Fores Tamayo
    Adjunct Justice
    Facebook Page:

    1. Keith generates more quality content volume than most -- has to be a series. I need to write my early adjunct blogging pal Owen -- send him the link and tell him about the series, because he's the one who blogged way back, "Keith Hoeller needs a blog"

      But that aside, you are so right and that needs to be a series too -- independent voices. After all, that is why I needed to be independent. So let's keep an eye out for the others whose voices aren't getting heard. Forget the media whores. They look out for themselves.


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