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Having So Many Contingent Faculty Diminishes the Overall Quality of Teaching and Learning

Before you huff and puff at me, I want to say that it the title of this piece comes from the Executive Director of the Modern Language Association, Rosemary Feal, and not me. She said it to a reporter from the New York Times who wrote a piece on December 18th about the outlook for graduates in the humanities. To paraphrase the article, perhaps those with graduate degrees in foreign languages, literatures, humanities and English would have a better chance of supporting themselves by turning to lives of crime rather than expecting to find a tenure-line job in higher education. Just please remember the old addage: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” That being said, identity theft, pick pocketing and taking candy from babies which can later be sold for a profit on eBay should be fields that could interest future Master’s and Ph.D. holders.

This is from the New York Times piece:

To make matters worse, the share of tenure-track jobs available has been shrinking. Tenure-track positions for assistant professors made up 53 percent of the English jobs advertised and 48.5 percent of those in foreign languages. From 1997 until recently, the group said, 55

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3 Comments for “Having So Many Contingent Faculty Diminishes the Overall Quality of Teaching and Learning”

  1. If we as adjuncts are “not as good” then why does my college continue to hire me? They’ve done so for almost 10 years now, and have recently asked my to design two new courses for a recently instituted hybrid program they’re trying.

    I know I’m just as good, if not better than, many of the tenured track teachers because I make sure that I am. I consistently get high evaluations from students, and even when my mother was dying and I was her 24/7 caregiver, I only missed one class. Can tenured track teachers say that? I think not.

  2. After 40 years of college teaching I will match the quality of teaching and learning from myself and most of my adjunct colleagues to any full timers in the colleges and universities where I teach. What an outrage for anyone to link quality to a professor’s position. The assumption that schools hire any professor who does not have the qualties they seek speaks little for the schools. Many adjuncts bring real time learning in to the classes due to their other professional jobs and can present a truer picture than academics who rely on texts to teach from. Plus anyone who can bash any teacher’s union that has raised the conditions of professional educators out of the basement needs to re-evaluate their idea of education in this country.
    New Faculty Majority is seeking to speak for all contingent faculty, not only adjuncts. Possibly with one strong voice all adjunct, part-time, temporary full time, and non-tenured faculty will get our message across to the American people that we are as good, if not better than, the full time tenured professors who leave us their leftovers and undesirables.

  3. Yes, that nails it, succinctly and to the point. “No study to date has linked the ‘quality’ of teaching and learning to the extensive use of adjunct faculty. Hell, no one can really agree completely on what ‘quality’ teaching is…” All we have are opinions expressed by self-interested tenured and pundits, supported by convention and anecdote.

    Gobsmacked I am by the Feal (sans fealty) brazenly leaping to unwarranted assumptions as though their repetition would make them so. Throw the adjuncts under the train. Save lifeboat space for the tenured.

    Shame on the MLA. I weep for the perfidy of humanists. What follower of the hard sciences would dare make such a claim without proof? Times like this, I regret not having followed my cousins down that path along which claims require proof.

    I would not lay this state of affairs on any single entity or presumed alliance thereof. There are more than enough road apples to go around. Nor, despite my involvement with and strong personal commitment to, can I speak for the New Faculty Majority or say what they will do. I speak/write here as an private individual with opinions of my own that I am so richly entitled to (in lieu of bankable benefits)

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Recently Commented

  • AdjunctNation Editorial Team: @Jeffr thanks for pointing out the distinction.
  • Jeffr: Note that adjunct faculty are considered to be on a “term” basis and receives no protection except...
  • Scott: I believe Sami is correct in that this no reasonable assurance language will allow adjuncts continuing access...
  • Nancy West-Diangelo: It’s as if we’ve lost the ability to listen critically. If the point of the work we...
  • Freddi-Jo Bruschke: An excellent description of this editorial.