Faculty union VP Ron Bramhall in the AAUP’s Academe, on contigent faculty

Blog post here, full article by Bramhall here:

… Continuing disinvestment in higher education across the country has led to an overreliance on contingent faculty. According to “The Just-in-time Professor,” a report issued by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in 2014, in 1970 contingent faculty made up about 20 percent of the faculty in the United States and today, they make up about 75 percent of the instructional workforce. They are the new majority, and their plight is finally getting the attention it deserves.

An increasing reliance on contingent faculty has much broader implications. The struggles of contingent faculty are not merely about working conditions. They are symptomatic of the continual decline of what has made higher education in the United States great. At its best, higher education in the United States is about deep inquiry and discovery, controversial ideas, critical peer review, and academic freedom. At its worst, it is about managing enrollment, building a “brand,” optimizing student credit hours, and job training. When the majority of faculty in front of students each day have no idea if they will have a job next term or if they will be able to pay this month’s bills, these core values suffer. When they have no time to meet with students because they have to teach too many classes to make ends meet, these values suffer. When they are so worried about being rehired that they fear engaging in discussion of anything even remotely controversial, these values suffer. The gradual erosion affects everyone—all faculty, students, and the broader society. …

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