PSA Contingent Faculty Study

INDISPENSABLE BUT INVISIBLE: A REPORT ON THE WORKING CLIMATE OF NON-TENURE TRACK FACULTY AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

Depending on the institution, they can be known as adjuncts, postdocs, TAs, non-tenure-track faculty, clinical faculty, part-timers, lecturers, instructors, or nonsenate faculty. What they all have in common: they serve in insecure, unsupported positions with little job security and few protections for academic freedom. And they are the vast majority of U.S. faculty today.

– American Association of University Professors

Contingent faculty now make up 2/3 of college and university faculty, teaching the majority of courses offered in U.S. colleges and universities. Despite their ubiquitous presence and high teaching loads, contingent faculty often do not earn a living wage. For many current doctoral students, it is likely that large numbers of them will end up in these positions if they pursue work in academia.

In Janaury of 2014, Mason sociology doctoral student Marisa Allison was invited in to sit on a Congressional Briefing panel for House Democrats to discuss the working conditions of part-time and contingent faculty in colleges and universities as part of her work with the New Faculty Majority Foundation. Marisa’s work with other members of the PSA ultimately lead to the drafting of the PSA’s contingent faculty study, “Indispensable but Invisible: A Report on the Working Climate of Non-Tenure Track Faculty at George Mason University,” a report that examines the experiences of contingent faculty at our very own university.

In the DC metro area, the word about the hidden inequities of contingent faculty labor is getting out, and students and their parents are starting to question how institutions that continue to raise tuition can pay those who are teaching their students so little. Students at both George Washington University and American University have led movements that successfully helped their contingent faculty unionize, and the movement’s energy is spreading to other parts of the DC metro area.

Additional articles on the subject can be found here: