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Calling Attention to Contingent Faculty Issues (The Council Chronicle, March 05)

Coalition on the Academic Workforce Announces Strategic Directions and Unveils Web Site

The statistics compel attention--44.5 percent of all higher education faculty are employed part-time. And 35 percent of full-time faculty are "contingent," working in non-tenure-track positions that are often deficient in pay, benefits, and access to important aspects of the profession such as continuing development and a place within the campus community.

The Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW), which posts these statistics on its Web site, is working to address the needs of contingent faculty through five strategic directions. They are:

  • Documentation--increasing and disseminating relevant information on the use of contingent faculty
  • Speaking Out--ensuring that the issue is known and discussed as widely as possible
  • Policy Framing--assuring that relevant organizations think through and take appropriate positions on these issues
  • Specifying Resources for Contingent Faculty--recognizing circumstances where contingent faculty need support, responding through societies where feasible, and thinking through how to implement efforts across higher education to advance resources for contingent faculty
  • Coalition Building--working within CAW for joint activities and with organizations that should be involved with CAW

NCTE and its constituent group the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) are active members of CAW, along with other groups such as the Modern Language Association, American Association of University Professors, and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

The Council has been addressing contingent faculty issues for a long time, explains Paul Bodmer, NCTE associate executive director for higher education. He notes that these efforts fall in line with CAW's strategic directions.

They include NCTE's publishing Moving a Mountain: Transforming the Role of Contingent Faculty in Composition Studies and Higher Education; CCCC and national and regional Two-Year College English Association groups including contingent faculty among their ranks and at their meetings; and the Council's adopting policy statements such as "Resolution on Labor Equity," which was accepted at NCTE's 2004 Convention.

As other signs of continuing support, Bodmer spoke on the issue of contingent faculty at a January meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and NCTE will contribute to a new Web site, sponsored by CAW. The purpose of the site, Bodmer says, is to urge policymakers, faculty, administrators, and others to explore and address issues pertinent to contingent faculty.

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