Call me nosy, but since there has been all this fuss over New York State’s Higher Education Commission Preliminary Report, I thought I’d read it. Well, to be truthful, I entered the search term “part-time faculty” and jumped from entry to entry. I got a dozen matches for the search term, only three of which were related to part-time faculty.
Here’s what the Commission had to say about the part-time faculty who teach on the 80+ campuses throughout the state (the bolding is mine, not the Commission’s):
- The decline in share of national research and development is but one of many troubling indicators noted by the Commission. From a backlog of critical maintenance to the dramatic rise in the percentage of classes taught by adjunct, part-time faculty, all of our higher education institutions—public and private—are in need of strategic investment.
- For example, campuses have hired more part-time, less expensive adjunct faculty. Failure to invest in a strong base of full-time faculty poses the single greatest threat to academic quality.
- Indeed, New York State’s public colleges and universities continue to fall further behind peer institutions in the amount of operating revenue per student full-time equivalent (FTE) and, as a result, must search for cost-saving alternatives such as hiring more part-time, less expensive adjunct faculty in lieu of full-time faculty. Regardless of the benchmark one chooses, the proportion of full-time faculty or any number of student-faculty ratios, the story is the same: SUNY and CUNY need many more full-time faculty.
The Report is 74 pages long. Not once do any of the Chancellor’s, college presidents, Commissioners of Education and union officials serving on the Commission conclude in their findings that a single dollar needs to be spent on increasing part-time faculty compensation, or implementing comprehensive faculty professional development programs. Why not? If the state legislature should allocate millions more to hire 2000 full-time faculty over five years, why not money for part-time faculty professional development?
A National Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, and President of the United University Professions, a faculty union which represents thousands of part-time faculty, Mr. William Scheuerman, sat on the Commission.
Shortly before the Commission on which Mr. Scheuerman sat released its report, which concludes that the single biggest threat to higher education in New York is the employment of the part-time faculty represented by Mr. Scheuerman’s UUP, the UUP released this little gem:
Seeking justice for often exploited part-time faculty is the goal of Campus Equity Week. United University Professions (UUP) is leading efforts on SUNY campuses to press the need for better pay and better recognition for adjunct faculty during Campus Equity Week that takes place between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2. UUP’s activities are part of a nationwide effort by UUP’s international affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), happening at public and private campuses across the country.
“Our part-timers do a great job but receive much less pay for doing much of the same work performed by full-timers,” said UUP President and AFT Vice President William E. Scheuerman. “We call many of them roads scholars, since they often travel to work on several campuses just to cobble together a decent living. Part-timers deserve adequate compensation, and equal pay for equal work.”
Did the UUP sell out it’s own part-time membership?