[Confessions of a Tenured Professor] – What to do about the legions of adjuncts and contingent faculty (Ad-cons)?
An amazing and eye-popping article on the adjuncts and contingent faculty (the ‘Ad-cons’) in North America by Peter Brown (a Distinguished Service Professor of German at the State University of New York).
When I began teaching at Columbia and Barnard in the 1960s, almost all the positions in their German departments were tenure-track. I came to SUNY New Paltz in the 70s, when there were only a couple of virtually silent and invisible part-time adjuncts among the 35 teachers in the entire Foreign Language Division. It was not until a few years after the dawn of the new millennium that I, like Rip Van Winkle, “awoke” after decades to a brand new reality: the number of tenure-track faculty in my department had shrunk to a mere 10, while some two dozen adjuncts were now teaching the bulk of our foreign language courses. Yikes!
Nationally, adjuncts and contingent faculty — we call them ad-cons — include part-time/adjunct faculty; full-time, nontenure-track faculty; and graduate employees. Together these employees now make up an amazing 73 percent of the nearly 1.6 million-employee instructional workforce in higher education and teach over half of all undergraduate classes at public institutions of higher education. Their number has now swollen to more than a million teachers and growing.
Scary. I doubt there is any properly systematic data on this issue in the Irish system, but as the numbers of core staff is reduced, the slack will be picked up somewhere, and possibly through increased numbers of part-time and other staff. It would be good to see some data collected on this, especially as the system is being stressed through the cumulative effects of attrition at present.