There is a recent societal trend toward the use of contingent employees. Higher education must not become comfortable with that trend and should resist its application on campus. Administrations are increasingly hiring professionals into marginalized positions — and decreasing the numbers of tenured and tenure track faculty — to the detriment of those so marginalized, the institution, and the profession.
- NEA believes that it is time to end the abuse and inappropriate use of part-time and temporary faculty by colleges and universities. Part-time faculty should be treated no differently than full-time, tenured or permanent faculty for purposes of employment conditions, including eligibility to collectively bargain.
Faculty work in non-standard employment situations for a variety of reasons: because no full-time position is available, because part-time employment is appropriate for them at that time in their career, because they want to be involved in the academy. One of the primary abuses of part-time faculty comes with campuses refusing to convert long-term part-time positions into full-time, tenure track ones.
- It is appropriate to hire part-time faculty because of immediate enrollment bulges, in grant-funded areas, for faculty on leave, or to serve in a specialty area where there is clearly not a need for a full-time position.
- NEA believes it is inappropriate to maintain part-time lines long after administrators can easily predict that large numbers of courses will be necessary. Such part-time positions should be converted to full-time, tenure track positions, and the faculty in them offered the opportunity to convert into full-time.
- Part-time faculty seeking full-time positions have the obligation to ensure that their qualifications are competitive for the new positions, including the attainment of an appropriate terminal degree, in return for preference being given to those who have served the institution in part-time employment.
- In order to ensure that the faculty are qualified to convert to full-time, the institution, following appropriate governance procedures, should develop and implement an appropriate evaluation system for part-time and temporary faculty.
- Part-time and temporary faculty should be given equal treatment with full-time faculty on campus in issues of resource allocation — including office space, access to phone and computer equipment, library facilities, secretarial assistance and professional development opportunities, which may include tuition waiver and sabbaticals. They should be included in campus mailing lists.
- Salary schedules and benefits for part-time and temporary faculty should be proportionate to their work on the campus: that is, they should be paid for preparation time, office hours, committee assignments, and other activities also performed by their full-time colleagues in the course of their duties. Longevity should be taken into consideration. One salary structure that would accomplish this is pro rata pay. In return, part-time and temporary faculty have the obligation to be on campus, meet with students, remain current in their fields, and become part of institutional life.
- The question of the role of part-time and temporary faculty in institutional governance is a thorny one. On one hand, their connection with any one campus may be tenuous as they might work at several campuses. Moving from campus to campus may impair their ability to participate. On the other hand, they are teaching large numbers of the students on a campus, and their experiences and expertise are relevant to promoting quality education.
Part-time and temporary faculty should be treated as the professionals they are and be involved in the governance of the campus.
Where part-time faculty wish to bargain collectively, they should be able to do so. However, care should be taken in determining how they will be organized and what their relationship will be with full-time faculty who might also be in a bargaining unit. It should be a local determination whether the part-time faculty are part of the full-time bargaining unit or whether they are part of a separate unit.
What all faculty need to beware of is the tendency on the part of administrations to pit full-time faculty against part-time, which can easily be done through threats that increasing resources for one group would be at the expense of the other.
- Full-time and part-time faculty are equal partners on the campus when it comes to concerns about the delivery of quality education to the students.