AAUP Issues Statement on Use Of Contingent Faculty Appointments
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a draft policy statement last month on the overuse and abuse of part-time and non-tenure track faculty — practices that threaten the quality and stability of higher education today.
The proportion of faculty appointed to tenure-line positions is declining at an alarming rate. Forty-three percent of faculty appointments are part time, and over half of new full-time appointments are off the tenure track, the association announced in a press release.
“Contingent” appointments include all those off the tenure track, whether part or full time, and whether compensated on a per-course or salary basis. Individuals holding such appointments are called by a wide variety of titles including “adjuncts,” “lecturers,” “instructors” and “visiting professors.”
The statement, titled “Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession,” makes new recommendations in two areas: increasing the proportion of faculty appointments that are on the tenure line, and improving job security and due process protections for those with contingent appointments.
The proportion of tenure-line appointments may be increased in two ways: changing the status of faculty members currently holding non-tenure-track appointments and creating new tenure-line appointments.
The draft policy also recommends that when contingent faculty appointments are used, they should include the full range of faculty responsibilities (teaching, scholarship, service); comparable compensation for comparable work; assurance of continuing employment after a reasonable opportunity for successive reviews; inclusion in institutional governance structures; and appointment and review processes that involve faculty peers and follow accepted academic due process.
The negative effects of the increased use of contingent faculty appointments on academic freedom, undergraduate education and academic collegiality are also discussed in the draft policy. No matter how qualified and dedicated, many contingent faculty members are hobbled in the performance of their duties by a lack of professional treatment and support, according to the association.
“The draft policy statement not only reinforces the longstanding commitment of the AAUP to apply the principles of academic freedom and shared governance to all faculty, including those on contingent arrangements, it provides guidelines for the implementation of reasonable standards for their employment,” says AAUP President Jane Buck. “If adopted, the statement will be one of the most significant recent additions to the association’s inventory of policy statements, addressing as it does a major threat to the quality of higher education and the integrity of the professoriate.”
The draft is published for comment. Comments will be reviewed, and the draft will be submitted to the association’s governing council for adoption as association policy. For more information or to review the full report visit the association’s Web site at
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