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Coalition of Senate and Faculty Leadership for Higher Education

On Part-Time and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Nationally, more than half of all faculty appointments are non-tenure- track appointments; some 43 percent of all faculty are part-time, up from 38% eight years ago. The percent of full-time positions continues to decline nationally and in Kentucky. What will be the effect on education of this continuing erosion of permanent faculty?

The primary function of Kentucky's academic institutions is education. Therefore, the planning and execution of teaching programs is of paramount importance. Also important is having as teachers those scholars who are permanent members of their university community, and who have the time and inclination to do their own research and to keep up with the research in their fields, so they may effectively communicate current and correct information to their students. The trend is that our educational institutions are relying more and more on instructors who are only partially or temporarily part of the university community. The extensive use of part-time (PT) and non-tenure-track (NTT) personnel is a practice that provides short-term advantages to both the institution and the individual temporarily employed, but is detrimental to both in the long run.

The long-term effects of extensive and growing use of part time faculty are:

a) The shrinking size of core academic units or departments. This has a negative effect on the planning and execution of academic programs -- as such programs are, and should be, ever changing to meet needs of students and changes in the body of knowledge.

b) A reduction in the sense of community of the university. Frequently, the institution does not consider the part-timer part of the university family (e.g., no benefits are paid; contracts are for a semester or a year at most).

c) A part-time employee -- who is paid on a "per course" basis (and usually considerably less than a regular faculty member), is deprived of benefits, and is uncertain of her or his future -- brings little loyalty to the institution, however seriously she or he takes teaching duties.

d) Institutions are becoming made up primarily of administrators (whose talents lie in managing the academic operation but not in imparting substantive information to students) and in part-time and non-tenure-track faculty (who are not paid for, and have little time to, learn and develop information to be taught).

The regular, permanent faculty member is becoming a rarity in the classroom. Since contact with experienced and engaged faculty is vital to the academic enterprise, the university will begin to fail at its most vital point -- to borrow a metaphor: in the classroom, where the rubber meets the road. For these reasons, the flexibility and economies gained by administrators who resort to non-permanent faculty to fill roles previously occupied by regular faculty are a poor exchange for the soundness of the academic programs of the past. Unless the present trend is reversed, any advantages to the institution of the conversion of full-time permanent salary lines will be lost in the not too distant future. The practice will produce "hollow" academic institutions, bereft of pedagogical direction and substance.


I. That the conversion of full-time, permanent faculty salary lines to part- time funding be disallowed at all Commonwealth funded institutions of higher learning, and that the trend towards use of part-time and non-tenure-track be reversed.

II. When it is necessary to employ part-time and non-tenure-track (PT & NTT) faculty:

a) A written description of the specific professional duties required should be developed and agreed with by the faculty member.

b) Performance of PT & NTT faculty should be evaluated regularly, together with normal faculty appointments, both prior to appointment and while they are employed.

c) Decisions on compensation should be based on the specified duties of the position. Compensation for PT & NTT faculty should be the corresponding fraction of a full time position. Compensation should include essential fringe benefits (e.g., health and life insurance, retirement contributions). Proper notice of non-reappointment should be made. PT & NTT faculty who have been employed for three or more consecutive terms should be given at least one full term's notice of non-reappointment.

d) It is incumbent on administrators to plan effectively so that PT & NTT faculty are required only occasionally -- and that, when they are required, as much advance notice as possible be supplied to the person who will be filling the slot. PT & NTT faculty should not be employed on a contingency basis (e.g., to be used if a class gets sufficient enrollment but unemployed otherwise).

e) PT & NTT faculty should be provided with sufficient office space, supplies, and support services. While they may not be fully integrated into the decision making structure of the academic unit, they should be able and encouraged to participate to the extent possible.

f) PT & NTT faculty should be given equal consideration when full-time positions become available. It is unfair to prevent a PT or NTT person from obtaining a full-time, tenure track position because it is useful to the institution to have that person continue to teach a large number of courses in a temporary position.

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