Educate and Agitate: Informational Articles on the Plight of Part-Timers

Here’s a couple of good reads sent by one of our fellow adjuncts.  These are the kind of articles we need to share so that the public, our students, and our politicians understand what is going on at public universities.

Posted November 22, 2016

Is “Adjunct” a Bad Word?

Career Tools  |  by Marta Segal Block

Thursday, September 8, 2016

At the 2014 MLA conference, several attendees wore red letter A’s pinned to their chests. The attendees weren’t signifying their role as Hawthorne scholars; rather, they were trying to call attention to the plight of adjuncts in academia. That year, the one MLA session on the needs and concerns of what the organization termed “contingent faculty” was held at the unpopular time of 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. It may be that those wearing “the scarlet letter” had a point.

Although much has been written about the ethics and economics of using adjunct faculty, not a lot of research has been done on the terminology used to describe this role – and how those who teach part-time feel about it.

The use of adjuncts, or part-time faculty, has grown substantially over the past 30 years. According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), in 1975, 30.2 percent of those teaching at the college or university level taught part time. By 2005, that number had risen to 48 percent. According to Hans-Joerg Tiede of the AAUP, the explosion of non-tenure track and part-time positions poses a serious threat to both academic freedom and the institution of tenure.

Despite the popular perception that most adjunct faculty would prefer to be full-time faculty, the same AAUP report showed that only 35 percent of those teaching part-time were actually looking for full-time academic employment. Sixty-five percent of adjuncts either held other full-time employment or wanted only part-time work.

As one might expect, part of how people feel about the term “adjunct” has to do both with their reasons for teaching part-time and their specific situations. Jennifer*, who until recently taught part-time in the business school at a Chicago university, works full-time in the business sector. Jennifer prefers “adjunct” to the term that her institution uses, “instructor.” She says “instructor” makes it sound “like the guy you hire to teach driver’s ed.” For Jennifer, adjunct indicates that she works “adjacent to” the faculty, but not as part of the faculty, which for her is appropriate.

Like Jennifer, Susan holds both a full-time non-academic job and a part-time position as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at a private Midwestern university. Susan dislikes the term “adjunct” for the same reason that Jennifer likes it: it identifies her as supplementary to the regular faculty. Ironically, Susan would prefer the term “instructor,” as she feels this more correctly identifies her as a teacher recruited from outside of academia.

Jane teaches at a private religious institution. Her full-time non-tenure track position at the school was recently reduced to part time. Jane, like Jennifer, views the term “adjunct” as an insult, “It feels like a slap in the face. Our department is fantastic, but from the administrative or HR side, we are second-tier and bottom-level faculty members. Students do not know we are part-time and treat us equal to their other professors. But the word adjunct in and of itself insinuates that we are not fully a part of the faculty regardless of what we bring to the table.” Jane would prefer to be referred to as “part-time faculty,” since she feels that terminology more accurately describes her job.

Rose agrees. Rose taught full-time at a technical college for 11 years until her position was eliminated. She then taught part-time at several schools until she landed a full-time position in a K-12 school. She still adjuncts for colleges in the summer but is disturbed by the lack of respect she feels. “I am not offended by the word [adjunct], but I hate being treated as completely disposable.”

Leslie, a retired vice chancellor and professor at a branch campus of a large institution, prefers to use the traditional term, “professor emerita,” for her part-time teaching. She believes similar terms of respect (full degree and title) should be used for anyone teaching part-time, and that there’s simply no need to distinguish between “adjunct” and other faculty.

A former adjunct, John, once taught 23 classes at several institutions over the course of one year. Today he is a dean at a small community college. The college has approximately 400 part-time faculty, not all of whom are teaching in any given semester, and approximately 55 full-time faculty members.

At John’s college, all faculty members have union representation and the legal term used to refer to those who teach part time is “part-time faculty.” However, in practice, staff and administrators use the terms “adjunct” and “part-time” interchangeably.

Like Leslie, John has mixed feelings about using any term to distinguish between part-time and full-time faculty. At his college, the union contract stipulates that part-time faculty can be part of faculty meetings and several part-time faculty have helped develop curricula. Titles are not given as much weight at John’s community college: one might find a full-time instructor with only an Associate’s degree, teaching massage therapy, as well as a part-time professor with a Ph.D. in Physics.

John believes that to speak of “the faculty” and their needs does not require a differentiation between part-time and full-time professors. In fact, making that distinction risks assigning greater status to one than the other.

At the same time, John acknowledges that failing to identify “adjunct” faculty as such could elide their concerns and create a false assumption that all is well when it is not.

Many part-time professors have no preference for one term over another, but wish that the terms were more universally applied among institutions and better understood by the public at large. Some full time professors also hold adjunct positions at other institutions and those positions may or may not involve teaching.

Some worry that to the outside world, the word “adjunct” indicates that the person is employed full-time by a university, which may interfere with other professional pursuits. Others worry that the term adjunct implies that they are unable to find a full-time job. Because many people teach part time at multiple institutions, the lack of consistency in terms can be confusing.

The only universal opinion that those who teach part-time seem to hold on the subject is that teaching part-time would be better if the job held more security and respect. As Rose said, “When the treatment and pay don’t seem professional, the word ‘adjunct” is the least of my concerns.”

Useful Articles  

Example page for a blog and/or informational web presence:

25 aides to organizing (though a few deal with organizing within a union, most are great for getting us thinking on how to obtain our main goal–getting a good majority of adjuncts to sign on to unionizing:

By the way, KPTFA has two copies of this book. Borrow one and bring to next meeting.

Articles about Part-Time Faculty Issues and Organizing

PHL289: The Philosophy of Adjuncting, Oct. 23, 2015, Instructor: Kevin Temple

Study: Most Ontario Adjuncts Are Would-Be Full-Timers, August 18, 2016

Fighting Low Pay, Stressful Uncertainty for Adjunct Faculty, Aug. 9, 2016, by April McCoy

Someone Calculated How Many Adjunct Professors Are on Public Assistance, and the Number Is Startling, Aug 9, 2016, by Jordan Weissmann

Two Modest Proposals to Improve the Wages and Working Conditions of Contingent Academic Labor, Aug. 30, 2016, by Lambert Strether

Saint Precaria at the University of California, SAINT PRECARIA AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Oct. 24, 2015, by Chris Hables Gray

Adjunct Life: Struggles on the Ivory Tower’s Lower Floors, August I, 2016, by Holly J. McDede

1. Decline and fall of a CC (lessons applenty here for us at CCSF)

2. Comment on CCSF in this blog from SD

1.  BC, Canada
Decline and fall of a CC (lessons applenty here for us)

2. Risks of Soviet style managerialism in UK univrsities


1. Reformers aim to shake up NYC teachers’ union (AFT LOCAL 2, UFT)

2. American Sociological Assoc. task force on contingent faculty

3. Moving fight for $15 to fight for a union too

4. Why I voted yes for a strike at CUNY

5. U of Buffalo faculty rally for fair pay

6. CC of Alleghany County approves pact with adjuncts (USW)

7. Beyond the professoriate

8. US Labor: what’s new and what’s not

8. U of WI tenured assignement fall, contingent ones up

9. Cerritos Col( CA) Faculty Federation takes to the streets AFT)

10. People of the year award to adjunct faculty

11. NTT faculty union (AFT-AAUP) at U of IL, Champaign-Urbana, ratifies first contract after strikes, with significant job security improvements

12. Academics who are treated as less than janitors

13. Latest issue of

14. What we look for in a new part-time hire (people need to comment on this, by two deans)

15. Testy contract talks at Barnard (NY)

16. The high cost of low teacher salaries

17. SEIU and AFSCME to consolidate efforts

18. Needed a strong active union and equal pay for adjuncts

19. Call for papers for April NCSCBHEP conference

20. A contingent crossword puzzle from our colleagues at Front Range CC in CO (AAUP)

21. Adjuncts essential to education at Washburn U, MO

22. Uber recognizes new drivers’ group (is this a company union?)’-group-short-union-0

23. Columbia U concedes better benefits to grads in the midst of union effort

24. NY teachers challenged evaluation system invented by present Sec. of Ed King, and won in court that it is arbitrary and capricious

25. Uber, adjuncts and exploitation…

26. Atlantic LIVE education summit, May 18, featuring our colleague Marisa Allison

27. CUNY faculty vote 92% to authorize strike


28. NLRB rejects union bid by Maywood U FTTT faculty (Yeshiva issue)

29. U of MO grads sue for union recognition

30. United Association for Labor Education’s 4 regional women’s summer schools (strongly recommended! Many contingent faculty activists have gone in the past and learned a lot and had fun!)

31. Why do adjuncts get short end of stick?

32. New book by our colleague and South Florida Adjunct Assoc. founder Kim Laffont, “Pearl”
It is historic fiction set in 1650-1714 London. I took the premise that Pearl, Hester Prynne’s daughter from the Scarlet Letter, went back to England and was raised there during this time. I did a lot of research and it was quite an interesting historic time for England. From Amazon. (The source of Sacrlet A for adjunct, of course)

33. New poem by a Holy Names College (CA) student about us

Adjunct Professors (working title)

I have been taught to try
I won’t stand by
While my learning is on the line
As teachers contracts get declined
And the increased wage of the presidunt
Mirrors the loss of wages for the adjunct
Naw, they taught me well in school
The maxim of the ever present profit rule
That turns the teacher into a tool
And the student into a board getting’ nailed
I see the links between why we fail
And why every class is up for sale
Cuz the teacher gets kicked out to the curb
After every grueling term
And there’s just nowhere to turn,
Cuz they contract every course.
Naw, my teachers taught me well,
That when 8 out of 10
Got no contracts to defend
There’s a message we gotta send:
That when Teachers get
Hired and fired
The students get tired
Tired of the teachers getting hired and fired
I’m fed up
So let’s stand up
For the adjunct!

–James Cogley, April 2016

34. Call for papers, The precariat and the professor

35. Colleges increasingly replacing FT professors with adjuncts

36. New Labor Forum recent blog

37. SEIU seeks organizer in higher ed in CN

38. Contingent faculty retirement crisis

39. Song lyrics, sung to the tune of Paladin, Have Gun Will Travel, 1960’s TV Western 

                                       Have Course Will Travel

Original tune find here:

Refrain: Part-timer, Part-timer, where do you roam

Part-timer, Part-timer, far, far from home.

“Have course will travel” sighs an adjunct with no plan

A worker without health care in a savage land

Degrees for hire, he heeds the highway’s call

A teacher of ill fortune in a part-timer scam

Refrain: Part-timer, Part-timer, where do you roam

Part-timer, Part-timer, you’ll never own a home.

He’ll travel U to U, wher’er go he must

Lunch on his lap, in a vehicle of rust

Hears memories of yore, old tenured track do sing

When even young professors, the bacon home did bring

Refrain: Part-Timer, Part-Timer where do you roam

Our classic schools crumbling, another fallen Rome

Oh listen, oh listen, to my plaintive moan

My mem’ries, my stories, fill a hefty tome

–Michael Carano, Aug 31, 2016


KPTFA in the News

Article in the Kent Stater:

Adjuncts seek parity at Kent State

  • Alex Delaney-Gesing

Editors Note: A previous piece of information in this article claimed KPTFA received disinterest from various professional alliances around Ohio. Kent State Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP-KSU) has provided full support to KPTFA in its endeavors to achieve parity. The previous claim was incorrect and has since been removed.

Traci West doesn’t teach film courses in Kent State’s Journalism and Mass Communication program for the money. She teaches because it’s what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

“I love what I do — I really do. I love being able to talk film with my kids,” she said. “And then there’s always that one person who’s the serious film buff, and I just love being able to have these conversations with these kids.”

Teaching is one of those occupations people who aren’t in for the money do, Ken Jurek said, part-time faculty in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“They genuinely love to teach,” he said.

But a passion for teaching can only get an individual so far, as is the case with West. Last summer, not able to teach, she was forced to apply for unemployment and received food stamps just to make ends meet.

The course load West is allotted to teach varies by semester: She’s teaching two classes this fall, and is scheduled to teach three classes in the spring, providing they don’t get cancelled.

West is one of 1,356 adjunct — or part-time —  faculty members spread out across Kent State’s campuses. In total, 2,693 faculty members are employed by the university this semester.

In response to a growing financial and job security concern among adjuncts at Kent State, the Kent Part-Time Faculty Alliance (KPTFA) was founded this past spring. The organization aims to give adjunct-faculty a voice in the community, as well as make a change for the better of all adjunct faculty.

“Our goal is simply parity,” Jurek said. “Just being on par with (the other faculty). That’s all.”

Adjuncts account for more than 50 percent of all faculty at the university, according to documents obtained through the Office of General Counsel. This matches nationwide numbers provided by the United States Department of Education.

“That’s a point to make: all the part-timers love to teach. They’re not doing it because they don’t like it; they love it,” Jurek said.

Of the total number of part-timers employed at Kent State, 62 percent — just over 800  — of adjuncts teach at the main campus.

While a love for teaching is a strong incentive for many professors, sometimes it’s not enough. Especially for adjunct faculty. Part-time faculty at Kent State haven’t seen a wage increase in more than a decade, Jurek said.

“I think it’s shameful, it truly is, that we all came into this and we are all highly educated people,” West said. “A lot of us have actual real life experience in what we do … (and) have been on the ground. So we do have value.”

Adjunct faculty members at Kent State are hired on either semester or yearly contracts. They typically teach specific courses or a set of courses, according to the Kent State website.

Unlike full-time faculty, adjuncts are not eligible for full-time employee benefits. Their sick leave benefits are dependent on their teaching load, and they receive tuition waivers of up to four credit hours for every semester they teach, according to Kent State’s website.

Unlike full-time faculty, adjuncts are not eligible for full-time employee benefits. Their sick leave benefits are dependent on their teaching load, and they receive tuition waivers of up to four credit hours for every semester they teach, according to Kent State’s website.

West said that earlier this year, when she went to reapply for health insurance, she was just $4 shy of being eligible for Medicaid. “I was advised to go ahead and apply for Medicaid, and then immediately start the appeals process as soon as I got the refusal,” she said.

In September, Jurek attended a Kent State Faculty Senate meeting on behalf of KPTFA with an end goal of getting a vote on the senate.

“If we get a vote on the Faculty Senate, it will at least allow us to be a part of the faculty’s decision making process and say ‘we’re here,’ ” Jurek said.

Jurek retired from a 19-year career in the Time Warner Cable sales industry last December. Before and throughout that time, he taught as a full-time professor at Kent State’s Stark Campus. He started as an adjunct at the main campus this fall.

As a retiree, Jurek has a pension and social security benefits. A portion of other adjuncts are also retirees and receive the same aid. But a majority are young people, he said, who are hurting for money.

“They don’t have a lot of money, and a lot of times they have to work at a couple different (campuses and) take other jobs just to make ends meet,” Jurek said.

Some of these adjuncts travel to various campuses at different universities in Northeast Ohio,”  said Michael Carano, a former adjunct faculty member at Kent State and member of KPTFA’s organizing committee. “Many have much grading, class preparation, families, etc. that makes it difficult to come to meetings. Their life schedules are not conducive.”

It’s this group of adjuncts for which KPFTA is fighting, Jurek said.

Full-time faculty and staff receive benefits such as retirement plans, either through the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio or an Alternative Retirement Plan. Adjunct faculty receive no benefits or retirement plans. Healthcare is not provided. KPFTA hopes to decrease the number of adjuncts from more than 50 percent to only a quarter of the teaching faculty at Kent State, Carano said.

“We want to be able to be on campus for more classes so we can better serve our students instead of having to rush off to other jobs and other campuses across the state,” he said.

Being recognized and (properly) compensated for the work they do is all members of KPFTA — and any adjunct faculty — wants, Carano said.

“We want to (be) assured of classes to a much better degree than now … so we can plan our lives, figure out how to pay our rent and bills (and) how much food we will be able to buy each week,” Carano said. “When classes are cut, ones we have spent time preparing for, we want compensation of some sort for the work we have done.”

As of this fall, KPTFA has approximately 120 adjunct faculty out of the total list of those employed by the university who have agreed to receive updates from  the organization.  {Now 208 as of Dec. 20, 2016}

The alliance meets each month to discuss progress and plans to increase their benefits at the university. As many as 25 adjuncts meet at a venue in the Kent area — a number that Carano said is rather remarkable, considering how difficult and scattered the lives of adjuncts are.

During a Nov. 19 meeting at the Kent Free Library, just under 30 individuals — an estimated 5 percent of the total number of Kent State adjuncts — gathered together to vote on unionizing with the United Steelworkers (USW). During the meeting, adjuncts from different departments and at different stages in their lives shared their experiences:

One communication studies faculty member teaches courses at Kent State, Walsh University and The University of Akron this semester. She voiced her desire and indecision to pursue a Ph. D. for fear she will be considered “overqualified” to teach future classes. She’s only been an adjunct for 1.5 years, but said “I’m really honestly already tired of this.”

A mother of two, who wishes to remain nameless, has taught online courses in the music department at Kent State since 2010. She struggles each semester to make ends meet, and said there have been times when she’s been told just two days before a semester that she won’t be teaching a class. Both times she’d turned down other jobs to teach the courses.

“The worst part is you never know if you’re going to be teaching,” she said. “Last year I had five part-time jobs because I — ironically — couldn’t find more jobs. They said I was overqualified.”

The group voted to become unionized with the steelworkers on Nov. 19.

KPTFA plans on meeting again in January, on the second Saturday before the spring semester begins. After that, the group will meet every third Saturday of the month.

In response to the organization’s decision to unionize, the university has “no comment to offer at this time,” said Eric Mansfield, Kent State’s executive director of media relations.

Alex Delaney-Gesing is a senior reporter. Contact her at


Akron Beacon Journal
Dec. 6, 2016


Faculty joins steel union

KENT: Members of a part-time faculty group at Kent State University unanimously have joined forces with the United Steel Workers in an effort to strengthen its contract negotiating efforts.

The Kent Part Time Faculty Alliance (KPTFA), whose membership numbers about 200 of the 1,349 adjuncts on the main campus and seven regional campuses — half of all faculty at KSU, unanimously voted last month to affiliate with the United Steel Workers. The group had no collective bargaining representation.

Leaders of the KPTFA said its employees are paid a third of what full-time, tenured track faculty members are paid and receive no benefits such as health care because they don’t work enough hours to qualify.

Some have not received raises in more than 10 years, a news release said.

Article in the Record Courier:

KSU faculty unit seeks union

Part-time group affiliates with Steel Workers

By ANDREW BUGEL Staff Writer Published: December 7, 2016 4:00 AM

In an attempt to improve the salaries and benefits of part-time teachers at Kent State University, Kent Part-Time Faculty Alliance (KPTFA) has formed an affiliation with United Steel Workers.

According to Michael Carano, co-chair of KPTFA, United Steel Workers will open the doors for KPTFA to become unionized, allowing them to strengthen their efforts to negotiate a contract with KSU administration for benefits and higher pay.

“The public doesn’t really understand what part-time faculty have to deal with,” Carano said. “Everybody think that if you teach at KSU, you’re set. I come from a union background and after I retired, I started teaching part time at KSU. I’ve kept up on education issues and once I started teaching and saw what these people were getting paid, I saw a problem. Some of them haven’t had raises in years and they have sick days they can’t even use. What good is that?”

A total of 1,349 part-time teachers are employed across KSU, including its seven regional campuses. This number represents more than half of all faculty employed. Until now, the part-time teachers have not had any collective representation. They also have no benefits.

“A full-time tenured teacher could make upwards of three times as much as a part-time teacher who teaches the same exact class,” Carano said. “These people have to go from university to university for work because the universities can’t give them too many classes because they will have to be given health insurance. These people are highly educated and they do great work, but they aren’t being given the financial support they need.”

Carano said it’s better for students if the part-time teachers could stay at one university because it offers students a chance to have better access to them instead of trying to chase them down all the time.

KPTFA’s affiliation with United Steel Workers marks the first time they have attempted to unionize. Carano admits the partnership with United Steel Workers may seem an odd choice to some, but it was the best move to make.

“The Steel Workers have organized in Pittsburgh and actually have a lot of success in covering all kinds of other industries in their union,” he said. “They will stand with us.”

Carano said much work still needs to be done to push KPTFA into becoming a union, but they are off to a good start.

[See also – Pa. professors end three-day walkout]
“We’ve been working over the last eight months and have been talking to people,” Carano said. “We’re getting some support. We’re going to work and build the union. These people deserve better job security than what they have. We’re going to build support throughout the ranks with our teaching staff of 1,349 and then we will put out the vote to get the union. This is where it all starts.”