Will the Professor be De-professionalized?
Part I of II
by Chris Dorn
April 9th, 2015
It is a commonplace now that the proportion of contingent or “adjunct” faculty to full-time tenured and tenure track faculty teaching in American colleges and universities has increased dramatically in recent decades. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 1970 only 22.2% of faculty at all higher education institutions was part-time employees, not including graduate assistants. In 2009, 49.3% of faculty was part-time employees. In more recent years movements to unionize have emerged in response to the real abuses to which this trend has given rise. But there is still work to be done. Contingent faculty continue in alarming numbers to teach classes part-time or on limited-term contracts, without permanent appointments, adequate compensation or appropriate professional support. Higher education researchers deplore this casualization of academic labor, which they argue persuasively results in an unstable workforce, impaired academic freedom, and diminished educational quality, among other things.