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.
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
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).
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.
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
II. When it is necessary to employ part-time and non-tenure-track (PT
& NTT) faculty:
A written description of the specific professional duties required should
be developed and agreed with by the faculty member.
Performance of PT & NTT faculty should be evaluated regularly, together
with normal faculty appointments, both prior to appointment and while
they are employed.
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.
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
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.
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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