The Status of Part-Time Faculty

This report was prepared by a subcommittee of the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. It was approved for publication by Committee A in November 1980.


Consistent with the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which calls for academic freedom for everyone engaged in teaching or research, Committee A, through successive editions of the Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, has set forth safeguards for the academic freedom of all teachers and researchers, full time or part time, tenured or nontenured, regular faculty or graduate assis­tants. The Recommended Institutional Regulations contain provisions for academic due process for all teachers and researchers, again including those who serve less than full time; these provi­sions recognize, as do the courts, that due process is a flexible concept and that the extent of procedural protections depends, in part, upon the magnitude of the contemplated abridgment of rights.1 Additional policies applicable to faculty members serving less than full time are developed in the statement, Senior Appointments with Reduced Loads, approved by Committee A and by the Association’s Committee on Women in the Academic Profession. In 1979, Commit­tee A authorized the publication of a statement, Academic Freedom and Due Process for Faculty Members Who Serve Less Than Full Time, which was a compilation of existing policies relating to part-time service.2 This subcommittee’s task has been to expand upon that statement and to offer new propositions, consistent with Association principles, to address some of the continu­ing problems concerning part-time faculty members.

While the Association has long recognized that part-time service has a place on a college or university faculty and that certain rights ought to be afforded to faculty members serving less than full time, it has not addressed itself comprehensively to the status, role, rights and privi­leges, and responsibilities of part-time members of a faculty. The role of part-time faculty mem­bers in institutional life, their participation in academic governance, their entitlement to partic­ular provisions of academic due process, and their eligibility for tenure in part-time positions, all need to be discussed. Guidelines are needed to assist colleges and universities in setting appropriate standards for the employment of part-time faculty members. The treatment of part-time faculty members, in terms of salary and fringe benefits and of security of employ­ment, also deserves examination. This report is designed to address these issues and to offer propositions and guidelines to assist colleges and universities in formulating policy relating to part-time members of the faculty.

Background

1.             The Increasing Use of Part-time Faculty in the 1970s. The last decade has seen a dramatic growth, in both relative and absolute terms, in the use of part-time faculty members in higher education. Figures provided by the National Center for Education Statistics indi­cate that part-time faculty members now comprise 32 percent of the total teaching force in higher education.3 Between the years 1972 and 1977, the rate of faculty growth was 50 percent for part-time staff and 9 percent for full-time staff. The most widespread use of part-time teachers is in two­year community colleges, where they now constitute 51 per­cent of the faculty.4 Approximately 24 percent of the faculty at four­year liberal arts col­leges are part-time faculty members,5 as are approximately 20 percent of the faculty at research universities.6 In the last few years, the rate of growth of part-time faculty mem­bers in liberal arts colleges seems to have been decreasing, but the increase in the growth rate of this population in community colleges continues. At some community colleges, almost the entire faculty serves on a part-time basis.

The growth of part-time service in higher education has brought with it a host of prob­lems. They involve the rights, privileges, and economic welfare of this category of facul­ty members, most of whom currently enjoy only marginal status. The problems also involve the relationship with full-time faculty within their institution and the institu­tion’s responsibilities to students in programs that are staffed largely or wholly by part-time faculty members. Who are these part-time faculty? What do they do? What skills do they possess? This knowledge should assist in determining what legitimate expectations part-time service engenders and how they can be met. There are, in addition, legitimate concerns relating to the expectations of students and flexibility in institutional staffing.

2.             The Present Statement. This report is concerned with all categories of part-time faculty members, irrespective of the proportion of service they provide, their official status at the institution that employs them, or the specific nature of their service. Only two categories of part-time faculty will be excluded from consideration: (a) graduate assistants who are teaching part time at the university where they are students, and (b) teachers who hold “part-time” positions but, in fact, have a load equivalent to that of a full-time faculty position. In the first instance, the dual role of faculty and student raises problems that should be considered separately. In the second case, exclusion is warranted because the Association’s position is that the part-time faculty member who performs the duties and has the teaching load equal to those of a full-time faculty member at the institution is entitled, regardless of his or her specific title, to the rights and privileges of a full-time faculty member.7

The basic concerns are two­fold: (a) that part-time faculty members not be exploited, and (b) that they not be engaged to replace full-time faculty members with a result that would undermine the protection of academic freedom that faculty tenure provides and the amount of just compensation that faculty members have achieved. The common con­cern for academic quality should encompass provision for appropriate review of the qualifications of part-time faculty members, their participation in the planning and implementation of the curriculum, their availability to students for advice and counsel­ing, their ability to keep current in their respective fields,8 and the chilling effect on their teaching which lack of the protections of academic due process may engender. A balance must be struck if the long-term interests of full-time and part-time faculty members, of stu­dents, and of higher education and research in general are to be served.

3. Part-time Service Viewed in the Context of the 1940 Statement of Principles. Although the Association has concerned itself with the academic freedom of all faculty members, part time as well as full time, it has not advocated extending the system of academic tenure so broadly. The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure refers, with respect to tenure, only to those appointed to full-time service. It mentions only full-time service in defining the probationary years preceding the attainment of tenure. The under­lying concept is that responsibility for academic quality falls upon those who, fully com­mitted to academic life, have shaped and taught the courses central to the academic mis­sion of their institution. This concept has rested on a view of the academic profession in which part-time ser­vice has been occasional and on an ad hoc basis. It provided a way to staff classes in response to temporary or emergency needs; it offered apprentice training to graduate stu­dents; and it allowed adjunct professors with highly specialized training to be engaged to teach an occasional course. It was also viewed as allowing an institution economic as well as academic flexibility. It was cost effective. It was not seen as entailing an ongoing insti­tutional commitment, nor was it viewed as affecting long-term individual interests. The concept assumed that those holding part-time positions were not and should not be a part of the institution in the manner of full-time members of the faculty upon whom rested the responsibility for the quality and character of the institution’s academic program.

The subcommittee believes that the propositions to be advanced below on the role and rights of part-time faculty are consonant with the 1940 Statement of Principles, responsive to contemporary concerns, and mindful of the needs both of colleges and universities and of the individuals who are directly affected.

Who Are the Part-time Faculty?

While the categories of part-time faculty service are manifold and difficult to classify, we can describe briefly a few “typical” part-time situations.

 

1.             Part-time Faculty Members Who Would Prefer Full-time Positions. These individuals, who constitute 30 percent of the part-time faculty,9 most resemble full-time faculty members in their commitment, in the duties they perform, and, in many cases, in their academic qual­ifications; they are also the most susceptible to exploitation. They teach part time—some­times simultaneously at several institutions—only because they cannot get full-time posi­tions. They may have previously taught full time and been denied reappointment or tenure, sometimes at the very institution where they now serve part time. While some may not have met the scholarly requirements for retention, for many there was simply no avail­able full-time position. As part-time faculty, they carry teaching loads that, while primari­ly if not exclusively in elementary courses, are in some instances heavier in contact hours than those of their full-time colleagues. They are frequently paid a small per­-course remu­neration and have only those fringe benefits mandated by law. Sometimes they have no office space, no library facilities, no access to laboratories, and no secretarial support. Most of them would oppose an “up­-or-­out” tenure policy for part-time faculty, for they perceive it as likely to end their tenuous hold on the institution. They do want, and by and large they need, increased employment security and better compensation.

 

2.             Those Who Serve Part Time By Choice But Have No Full-time Employment Outside the Home. These faculty members tend to have a wide range of qualifications, of duties, of com­mitment to their institutions, and of reasons for preferring part-time status. Some are like full-time faculty members in every way except the percentage of time devoted to academic employment; they choose to spend some time with their families, tending to their investments, freelance writing, consulting, painting, or whatever. Many of them want to be evaluated for tenure by the same qualitative standards as are their full-time colleagues so that, since they meet the tests, albeit on a part-time basis, they are entitled to tenure’s protections.

 

Others, however, may be committed primarily to teaching and provide instruction in the basic courses at institutions where full-time faculty members are expected to concen­trate on research. Many of these part-time faculty members would welcome the oppor­tunity to participate in faculty government, and in particular in planning the curriculum and advising students. Some would want to be evaluated for tenure, but according to dif­ferent criteria from those applied to full-time faculty members. Most are not compensat­ed on a basis comparable to full-time faculty at the institution, and most have little secu­rity of employment, even after having taught successfully for many years. They often have no access to group insurance plans, retirement plans, or unemployment benefits.

 

3.             Those Who Have Full-time Employment Elsewhere. While these faculty members tend not to rely on their teaching for security of employment, as teachers they are entitled to protec­tions of academic due process which, more often than not, stated institutional policies fail to assure them. The specialists who teach certain advanced courses that enrich the cur­riculum may well prefer not to assume any additional institutional responsibilities; oth­ers, especially those who teach core courses such as elementary mathematics or account­ing, English composition, or clinical law, might improve both the course offerings and their own performance by participating in departmental discussion and planning. For those with full-time positions elsewhere, access to fringe benefits is not generally of sig­nificant concern; few, however, would not welcome better pay.

 

4.             The Retirees. Faculty members who retire from full-time service either at the normal age of retirement or at an earlier age sometimes continue to teach part time. Frequently, in surrendering tenure, they are left without any protections of academic due process. Sometimes their fringe benefits are also cut off,10 and their pay is reduced to a low per­course stipend. They cannot seek tenure once again, but they do seek equitable treatment.

 

The categorization we have offered is based largely on the part-time faculty member’s own commitment. The subcommittee believes that, when a faculty member’s primary commitment is to an institution, the institution should make a corresponding commit­ment, particularly in terms of security of employment and of financial compensation. The difficulties arise in determining the specific circumstances in which the commitment by the university should arise and what form it should take.11

Some view the concerns of part-time faculty members as essentially a women’s issue. It is true that the interest at some institutions in making part-time faculty members eligible for tenure was generally in response to a perceived need to provide flexibility for women who wanted to devote significant time to their families while pursuing a full­fledged aca­demic career.12 It is also true that women are, in comparison to their representation among the community of full-time faculty members, disproportionately represented in part-time positions. Many women, however, teach on a part-time basis only because they cannot obtain full-time positions. It is therefore important to note that colleges and universities cannot meet their obligation to provide equal employment opportunity by having a sub­stantial number of their female appointees on a part-time status that provides them with little or no opportunity for movement to full-time positions. The subcommittee does not view the concerns surrounding part-time faculty members as generally constituting women’s issues. They are concerns that involve faculty members of both sexes.

Policy Proposals

 

1.             Tenure for Part-time Faculty. The 1973 report of the Commission on Academic Tenure in Higher Education discussed part-time faculty service and found merit in the view that individuals who regularly provide part-time service on an institution’s faculty should be accorded tenure if they qualify for it. The commission recommended that “institutions consider modifying their tenure arrangements in order to permit part-time faculty ser­vice under appropriate conditions to be credited toward the award of tenure, and to per­mit tenure positions to be held by faculty members who for family or other appropriate reasons cannot serve on a full-time basis.”13 During the past decade, a number of institu­tions have modified their tenure regulations so as to permit tenure positions to be held on a part-time basis. From what the subcommittee has been able to discover, the number of faculty members who have actually been granted tenure in a part-time position is very small. Although we recognize that the large majority of part-timers neither need nor desire the privileges of tenure and that for the most part colleges and universities have used part-time faculty service in a manner compatible with the health and quality of the institution,

 

WE RECOMMEND that colleges and universities, depending upon the manner in which they utilize part-time faculty service, consider creating a class of regular part-time faculty members, consisting of individuals who, as their professional career, share the teaching, research, and administrative duties customary for facul­ty at their institution, but who for whatever reason do so less than full time. They should have the opportunity to achieve tenure and the rights it confers. The Asso­ciation stands ready to provide guidance to institutions wishing to develop such policies.14

 

2.             Security of Employment for Part-time Faculty. The part-time faculty member who is like the full-time faculty member in qualifications and responsibilities frequently has a com­parable commitment to his or her institution. Many part-time faculty members who teach year in and year out can and should participate in institutional life in a way that is both impracticable and unnecessary for part-time faculty members whose involve­ment is occasional or peripheral. The part-time faculty member engaged only for high­ly specialized courses may also have only a modest commitment to the institution. The distinctions in duration of service and in commitment suggest that different types of part-timers are entitled to different degrees of security. Some institutions, as we have stated, have acknowledged these distinctions by defining a class of part-time faculty eli­gible for tenure with attendant rights and responsibilities. Of more concern, however, is minimal employment security for much larger numbers of part-time faculty members, based not on probation and potential tenure but on more careful initial screening and periodic review by faculty colleagues.

We realize that fluctuations in enrollment can create unanticipated staffing needs. In most instances, however, one should be able to anticipate at least a term in advance how many sections of a given course will need to be staffed. In practice, colleges and universi­ties often staff courses at the last minute, and as a consequence part-time appointments are typically made upon the recommendation of a department chair to a dean without benefit of opinion from others in the department. This practice has fostered a two­class system in which part-time faculty members are often isolated from their full-time colleagues. Often they are left out of departmental meetings; they do not participate in curricular planning; they have no vote in departmental affairs; and they are afforded no opportunity for peer review or for advancement through the academic ranks.

WE RECOMMEND that part-time faculty members not be appointed routinely or repeatedly at the last minute. The practice of continually appointing the same part-time faculty member on term­by­term contracts with employment contingent upon enrollment is, in the large majority of cases, callous and unnecessary.

WE RECOMMEND that in those instances when cancellation of a course leaves a part-time faculty member without an expected appointment, financial compensa­tion should be made for the time spent in preparing the course and for dealing with the course prior to its cancellation.

WE RECOMMEND that, where part-time employment is not casual and occasion­al, colleges and universities should endeavor to regularize their use of part-time faculty members so that they can be appointed in closer conformity to standards and procedures governing full-time faculty members. We hesitate a little in recom­mending formal notice requirements or a presumption of renewal after a specified period. We have seen such policies lead to subversion of the principle of adequate notice by issuing blanket notification of nonrenewal by the specified date, with the real decision in individual cases held off until later. Part-time as well as full-time faculty members are, however, entitled to individual consideration in the renewal process. Accordingly,

WE RECOMMEND that part-time faculty who have been employed for six or more terms, or consecutively for three or more terms, receive a full term’s notice. Any lesser period may prevent their reentry into the part-time market, given the cycli­cal nature of academic appointments. The issuance of notice should be preceded by a more thorough faculty role in the evaluation process than is customarily the case with part-time faculty members.

WE RECOMMEND that colleges and universities afford part-time faculty mem­bers the protections of academic due process summarized in the Association’s Aca­demic Freedom and Due Process for Faculty Members Who Serve Less Than Full Time. In particular, part-time faculty members should have access to the institution’s regu­lar grievance procedure.

3. The Role of Part-time Faculty in Academic Governance. The differing levels of involve­ment of part-time faculty members in the life of the institution should be reflected in the degree of their involvement in institutional governance. The occasional part-time faculty member usually has nothing to do with the faculty as a whole, and even his or her par­ticipation in departmental committees and curricular planning tends to be negligible. The more considerable commitment of the part-time faculty member whose service is more like that of a full-timer does, however, raise the question whether these part-time faculty members should have the right or the obligation to participate in governance and departmental decisions; whether, for example, they should have voting rights. Empirical evidence demonstrates that most part-time faculty, even the regular part-time faculty

member whose responsibilities include many nonteaching activities, tend to have little formal role in university or departmental governance.15 As a consequence, their status within the university or college community is diminished.

Crucial for the sense of professional pride and responsibility that characterize the academic profession is the central role full-time faculty members traditionally play in the determination of the structure and content of curricula, individual courses, and teaching materials. Similarly, a sense of professionalism is derived from the significant role faculty members play in governing academic departments and in the governance of institutions of higher learning. Without access to the governing bodies, a faculty mem­ber’s sense of professionalism is impaired, to the potential detriment of the quality of the educational process in which he or she is involved. Faculty members who are treat­ed like “hired hands,” with syllabi they have played no role in preparing, may be insuf­ficiently motivated to perform with the care and ingenuity of the faculty member who is actively involved in shaping his or her environment.

When a faculty is organized for purposes of collective bargaining, the appropriate test of inclusion in the bargaining unit that is used by the National Labor Relations Board is whether or not a “community of interest” or a “mutuality of interest” exists among the members of the proposed unit. If there is a category of part-time faculty members com­posed of those who are eligible for tenure, it appears likely that they would be included in a bargaining unit with full-time faculty members. Indeed, the few part-time faculty members who are in this category are often called “fractional time” or “full time with reduced load” rather than part time. Similar claims for inclusion might be made by part-time faculty members paid on a pro­rata basis,16 independent of their qualifications or security entitlements. Politically, the inclusion of part-time faculty is often viewed as threatening to the interests of the full-time faculty, and, to the degree that the part-time fac­ulty and full-time faculty have different commitments to the institution, the threat becomes more real. There is a basic problem as to whether a bargaining unit composed primarily of full-time faculty members can fairly represent the part-time faculty if they are included in the bargaining unit. And, if the part-time faculty are excluded from the unit, will the administration exploit them and use them to undercut the full-time faculty?17 Throughout this statement on part-time faculty problems, we make proposals designed for the better integration of part-time faculty and full-time faculty. We believe that a bet­ter integration will improve the quality of education and the academic climate. We also believe that, as institutions move toward improved communication between part-time and full-time faculty members, the likelihood of the difficulties posed above occurring in a collective bargaining situation will be lessened.

Universities and colleges should recognize that participation in academic governance is likely to enhance a faculty member’s sense of professionalism and elicit a higher quali­ty of performance than can otherwise be expected. Moreover, the institution would bene­fit from the part-time faculty member’s contributions.

WE RECOMMEND, whenever possible and erring on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion, that part-time faculty members be involved in the determination of goals, techniques, and schedules for those courses which they teach. Moreover, they should be actively involved in planning the curricula of which their courses are a part. To the extent that other, more general, considerations which are dealt with by departmental or institution­wide committees impinge on these more spe­cific matters relative to courses taught by part-time faculty, these faculty members should serve as participating members on such committees. If part-time faculty members are subject to appropriate review procedures and have, as they should, access to the regular institutional grievance procedure, they should also be repre­sented on the bodies concerned with these matters when cases involving part-time faculty are heard.

4. Compensation and Fringe Benefits for Part-time Faculty. Recent studies suggest that most part-time faculty members teach at a per­course rate less than that paid to full-time facul­ty members.18 Data also suggest that they receive fewer fringe benefits than their full-time

counterparts. This is especially true where the individual part-time faculty member teach­es less than half time and does not participate in the range of faculty responsibilities out­side the classroom. There is also a small portion of the part-time labor market that is paid on a pro­rata basis and is eligible for cost­of­living and merit increases. One study con­cludes that a little more than one­quarter of all institutions currently prorate compensa­tion.19 The practice of paying a flat rate per course or per student hour to part-time facul­ty does little to relate the part-time salary payment scale to the salary rates paid to full-time faculty. Bearing in mind that part-time faculty members differ widely among them­selves in the nature of the duties they perform, the qualifications they possess, and the dis­ciplines in which they work, and appreciating the differences among them in need, expec­tation, and bargaining power, we believe that simple fairness obligates institutions to rationalize their compensation of part-time faculty members and to develop policies that treat part-time faculty equitably.

WE RECOMMEND that colleges and universities, through their regular proce­dures, devise equitable scales for paying part-time faculty members.

Although the task is difficult, it is necessary for colleges and universities to develop appropriate criteria for comparing part-time and full-time responsibilities, properly tak­ing into account nonteaching activities and individual qualifications. The criteria would enable an institution to determine which part-time faculty members appropriately should be paid on a pro­rata scale and which should be paid on a per­course or per­-stu­dent-­hour basis. In either case, some provision should be made for merit, seniority, and cost­of­living increases.

Discussion regarding compensation of part-time faculty often proceeds upon the assumption that for many compensation is extra, a component, but not an essential com­ponent, of the family income. This appears no longer to be the case for an increasing number of part-time faculty members.20 Even if it were true, we do not believe that the degree of individuals’ financial dependency on their employer should enter significant­ly into a determination of compensation for part-time faculty. In the past, such consider­ations contributed unduly to the practice of paying housewives who taught part time appreciably less than their male counterparts.21 These considerations are often cited in defense of various scales of compensation and of particular salaries as well as to justify other employers’ practices. We believe that they should not be relevant to the measure­ment of the degree of a faculty member’s commitment to his or her institution nor of the commitment that the institution should make to the faculty member.

In discussing compensation we must also bear in mind that colleges and universities uti­lize part-time faculty members in order to effect monetary economies and flexibility in staffing the academic program. What must be guarded against are practices that exploit the part-time faculty, contribute to poor morale, and adversely affect the quality of education. Such practices inevitably injure not only part-time faculty members, but also their full-time colleagues and, most of all, students.

For many part-time faculty, a wage scale based on a per­course rate or a per­hour rate is reasonable. The full-time faculty member who teaches an additional course as an over­load may be paid for it on a per­course basis; the business executive, secondary­school teacher, lawyer, or government official who teaches a single course, either occasionally or regularly, does not look to the part-time position as a primary professional commitment. By and large, these part-time faculty teach for stimulation, prestige, and variety, while the pay provided them supplements their basic income. More importantly, most of these part-time faculty members are appointed to teach, and the nonteaching functions per­formed by full-time faculty are not their concern. Their own professional development is not significantly related to their part-time teaching work. The time they spend on read­ing and research, on participating in meetings and presenting talks, usually relates to their primary employment and is compensated by that employer. If, in line with our pre­vious recommendations, some of these part-time faculty members do become more involved in advising, departmental and curricular work, and related responsibilities, their compensation should reflect this greater commitment.

Of particular concern to us is the 30 percent of the part-time faculty population who teach one or more courses only because they cannot find a full-time position. Often the income they derive from their teaching—and some piece together two or three part-time positions at different institutions in order to have the equivalent of a full-time position—provides their sole means of support. These faculty members tend to teach the same courses regularly and frequently perform at least part of the range of non­teaching duties of their full-time counterparts. They deserve adequate compensation and security, being peculiarly vulnerable to the exploitation we discussed earlier. These part-time faculty members are also the unwilling subject of the tensions affecting the members of the full-time faculty who have a voice in the establishment of rates of part-time compensation. If a certain amount of highly cost­effective teaching is done by part-time faculty, their own compensation will be higher. On the other hand, this would mean that the out­of­classroom duties associated with the courses and students taught by the part-time faculty must often be performed by the full-time faculty. If the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty becomes small, the full-time faculty can become overbur­dened and the quality of education will suffer. Moreover, increasing numbers of part-time faculty members are being appointed in an attempt to avoid any institutional com­mitment to tenure; the presence of large numbers of faculty serving “at will” can have a chilling effect on general conditions of academic freedom at the institution as well as on academic quality. Finally, the presence of a source of cheap substitute labor may well depress the compensation scale of full-time faculty. What is required is a balance between retaining institutional flexibility and avoiding the exploitation of part-time faculty that may lead to the exploitation of full-time faculty as well.

Accrediting bodies have been guided by various ratios to express the desired balance between full-time and part-time faculty in a healthy academic institution. Such ratios grew out of the perception that part-time faculty members, because of their commitment of time to an institution, were unable to provide the amount of administrative service, curricular planning, and service in academic governance considered appropriate to sus­tain a vigorous academic enterprise. Currently it is more difficult to gauge what propor­tion of a curriculum in a variety of disciplines can be taught by part-time faculty without endangering the quality of education. Colleges and universities must be mindful of the dangers of misusing part-time faculty members and eroding their academic standards. They must recognize the diverse ways in which part-time service can be used and the variety of needs of the different kinds of part-time faculty members they employ. Where the part-time faculty members function largely as full-time faculty but on reduced time, and where they are similarly qualified, institutions should develop commensurate pay scales and fringe­benefit packages. They should consider whether pro­rata compensation would, in the long run, enhance not only the purses of the part-time faculty members but also the health of the institution as a whole.

No overriding legal principle requires that part-time faculty members receive prorated compensation, but considerations of fairness and regard for overall institutional welfare point to an increasing need to identify the part-time faculty members who are carrying workloads that can be legitimately considered comparable to a portion of a full-time workload at the same institution and to compensate them on a pro­rata basis.

WE RECOMMEND that the part-time faculty member whose contribution to the academic program of the institution and to its academic life is equal to that of a full-timer except for the proportion of time given to the position, and whose qualifica­tions are comparable, receive prorated compensation.22

If an equivalency between full-time and part-time workloads is inappropriate, pay scales should be devised which reflect the similarities and differences that distinguish part-time workloads from full-time ones. The criteria should include (a) the nature of the ser­vice being performed—whether it includes nonteaching functions such as advising, research, curriculum planning, and participation in governance; (b) the qualifications of the faculty member; (c) the length of time, either continuous or interrupted, served by the part-time faculty member at the particular institution; and (d) the market value of the discipline being taught. These criteria would enable colleges and universities to com­pare full-time workloads meaningfully and to determine which of their part-time facul­ty deserve pro­rata compensation, which deserve a salary scale that rewards merit and length of service, and which can be appropriately compensated on a per­course or per­hour basis, and at what rates.

Institutions should also devise ways to reward part-time faculty members who teach continuously over a number of years, whether they carry only one course per term or a heavier load. Career progression is one mechanism to recognize meritorious work; anoth­er is to ensure periodic raises for continuing part-time faculty, on either a seniority or a merit basis. This allows a measure of reward for the more senior part-time faculty mem­ber and acknowledges the contribution that continuity of instruction makes to academic life. A system of merit pay would also help prevent the lapse in skills which may occur if part-time faculty members continue to be treated as marginal and are given no incentive to maintain or improve their skills.

Fringe benefits are another means by which colleges and universities can offer securi­ty and monetary rewards to their part-time faculty. Fringe­benefit policies in higher edu­cation vary widely and reflect the essentially unplanned and unregulated growth of poli­cies designed to attend to the needs and interests of part-time faculty members. The aver­age part-time faculty member is not likely to receive fringe­benefit coverage, other than that mandated by law, from his or her academic appointment. Only a limited number of institutions have developed fringe­benefit policies in which the benefits for part-time fac­ulty members are prorated in proportion to their workload.23 Many colleges and univer­sities make no contributions to the costs of the fringe­benefits extended to part-time fac­ulty members, and often they do not even provide part-time faculty members with access to the fringe benefits available to full-time faculty. A substantial number of part-time fac­ulty members have no retirement, disability, health, or life insurance coverage through their employment.24

Apart-time faculty member’s need for fringe­benefit coveragevaries in accordance with his or her dependence upon the employing institution as the primary source of income and benefits. Nonetheless, we would assert here, too, that need alone should not dictate the lib­erality of an institution’s fringe­benefit policy. Rather, such benefits should be viewed in part as a means to grant recognition of the vital services being performed by a faculty mem­ber, part time or full time. While remaining mindful of the administrative costs entailed in extending different types of benefit coverage,

WE RECOMMEND that colleges and universities design policies on fringe benefits which reflect the varying kinds of commitments made by the part-time members of the faculty.

WE RECOMMEND that the part-time faculty member whose work is indistin­guishable from that of the full-timer with the exception of the proportion of time spent in the activity should have the opportunity to participate in nonmandatory fringe benefits on a prorated basis if his or her workload at the institution is con­tinuous over several years. Where institutions have developed tenure policies for part-time faculty members, fairness urges that these institutions provide part-time faculty members who are eligible for tenure with, at a minimum, access to the full range of fringe benefits available to their full-time colleagues. They should also be allowed access to fringe benefits such as group medical or dental programs on a prorated basis.

Institutions that make nonmandatory fringe benefits available to part-time faculty members on a prorated basis will have to establish criteria to compare the workloads of part-time faculty to those of full-time faculty. We realize that this will incur increased administrative costs, and the certification of workload for the purposes of establishing eli­gibility for fringe benefits can also add to administrative costs.

It should also be noted that because there is a “large and increasing number of part-time faculty who are forced to rely on their earnings from part-time employment as a sole

source of income,”25 we are discussing a group of faculty members whose situation is eco­nomically most precarious, and made more so by the lack of such employment­security benefits as unemployment insurance, social security, and retirement benefits. An infusion of university funds to enhance their benefit package rather than their salary could well be a more efficient use of funds for employer and employee alike.

In determining which benefits ought to be prorated for part-time faculty, institutions will have to weigh the cost of providing such nonmandatory benefits as life and medical insurance, workers’ compensation, and sick leave against the importance of the benefit in relation to the category of part-time faculty member involved. At a minimum, however,

WE RECOMMEND equal access for all part-time faculty members to such fringe benefits as medical and dental insurance, and, where possible, the prorating of the employer’s contribution. Institutions should endeavor to provide part-time facul­ty members with access to retirement or life insurance coverage which has a vest­ed component as well as a number of fringe benefits, e.g., tuition remission, which are of less out­of­pocket cost to an institution but which may be extremely valuable to the part-time faculty member.26

Needed now are clearly articulated individual institutional policies that address which fringe benefits should be made available to part-time faculty members, on what basis, and at what costs. Varying approaches are possible. All, however, should have cer­tain common goals: (a) that part-time faculty members be treated consistently; (b) that part-time faculty members be given access to all fringe benefits; (c) that continuing and substantial service performed by a part-time faculty member entitles the part-time facul­ty member to a degree of security; (d) that incentives are needed for part-time faculty members to retain and improve their skills; and (e) that a part-time faculty member whose duties and qualifications are essentially equivalent to those of his or her full-time counterpart should receive compensation proportionate to the full-time counterpart.

The implementation of many of the recommendations of this report will inevitably result in increased costs to the college or university employing part-time faculty. Some full-time faculty members, and some who are part time, may view some of these recom­mendations as antithetical to their interests. To the extent that the result of changes in policies regarding part-time faculty is an improvement in the quality of education, we believe that they should be sought; if, however, they can be shown to diminish flexibili­ty severely, both for the institution in its special staffing needs and for those faculty mem­bers who choose for personal reasons a less­than­full-time commitment to teaching, par­ticular changes may not be desirable. Colleges and universities should arrive at an appro­priate balance after weighing the various considerations. Ultimately, if part-time faculty can attain a less precarious status, the academic enterprise as a whole should benefit.

 

Notes

 

1. Regulation 1a specifies that “the terms and conditions of every appointment to the faculty will be stat­ed or confirmed in writing, and a copy of the appointment document will be supplied to the faculty mem­ber. Any subsequent extensions or modifications of an appointment, and any special understandings, or any notices incumbent upon either party to provide, will be stated or confirmed in writing and a copy will be given to the faculty member.” Regulation 14a, which would be applicable to part-time faculty in any case where Regulations 5 and 6 (which deal with dismissal for cause) may not be, calls for “a statement of rea­sons and an opportunity to be heard before a duly constituted committee” prior to involuntary termination before the end of the period of appointment. Regulation 14b and Regulation 15 afford part-time faculty members access to grievance committees under certain stipulated conditions. (AAUP, Policy Documents and Reports, 10th ed. [Washington, D.C., 2006], 22–31.)

2. Academe: Bulletin of the AAUP 65 (September 1979): 294.

3. The total number of faculty members in higher education is reported to be 675,000, with 32 percent of them serving part time. The figure does not include graduate assistants. [The overreliance on part-time fac­ulty has increased since this report was first published. In 2003, about 46 percent of all faculty (approxi­mately 1,174,000) held part-time appointments.]

4. “The Loneliness of the Part-time Lecturer,” The Times Higher Education Supplement, March 3, 1980.

5. Ibid.

6. David W. Leslie and Ronald B. Head, “Part-time Faculty Rights,” Educational Record 10 (winter 1979): 46.

7. Also excluded from this report are issues relating to those who have full-time appointments with the institution but whose faculty responsibilities are less than full time. See 1970 Interpretive Comment Number 5 on the 1940 “Statement of Principles” (Policy Documents and Reports, 6).

8. Owing to other commitments, to high teaching loads carried perhaps simultaneously at several insti­tutions, to lack of access to laboratories, libraries, and computers, and to lack of a reward system, many part-time faculty members report difficulty in keeping up with their field.

9. Howard P. Tuckman, William D. Vogler, and Jaime Caldwell, Part-time Faculty Series (Washington, D.C.: AAUP, 1978). These empirical studies were made possible by a grant to the AAUP from the Ford Foundation. Six articles were included in the above publication, and a seventh appeared in Academe 66 (1980): 71–76.

10. Employers may be restricted in this practice under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

11. That primary economic dependence on the employing institution should be a consideration in deter­mining what degree of protection part-time faculty members should have remains an issue. Typically, such an argument has been made to the disadvantage of two­income families, but not to that, for exam­ple, of the medical school faculty member with a private practice or of the independently wealthy. We reject the degree of economic dependence upon a college or university as a consideration in determining faculty status.

12. Other women have preferred to consider their home commitment as primary; in their cases, the part-time academic employment can be regarded in the same way as it is for those whose primary commitment is to other remunerative employment.

13. Commission on Academic Tenure in Higher Education, Faculty Tenure (San Francisco: Jossey­Bass, 1973), 78–81. The commission, an independent body, undertook a comprehensive study of the tenure sys­tem. The project was sponsored jointly by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities). Funding was provided by the Ford Foundation.

14. These rights do not include entitlement to a full-time position should the part-time faculty member wish to become full time. Moreover, the class should be defined through the regular procedures of the insti­tution; like the full-time faculty member, the part-time faculty member in this class should not be allowed to waive a decision on tenure.

In addition, we would not insist that part-time faculty members who, for example, teach courses not car­rying academic credit should be included in the tenure system. The centrality of the courses that are taught is a legitimate consideration, but we resist viewing it as a consideration applicable only to part-time faculty. If full-time members of the faculty are to be eligible for certain considerations, so should part-time faculty members who possess the same academic qualifications and teach in the same type of program.

15. Tuckman, Vogler, and Caldwell, Part-time Faculty Series.

16. A part-time faculty member who receives pro­rata compensation is paid that percentage of the compensation of a similarly qualified full-time faculty member represented by the ratio of the part-time teaching load (measured by contact hours) to the full-time counterpart. Under this arrangement, other responsibilities are not taken into consideration in determining workload.

17. At some institutions the part-time faculty have a separate bargaining unit; this can also lead to play­ing off the interests of the two units against one another.

18. See Howard P. Tuckman and William D. Vogler, “The ‘Part’ in Part-time Wages,” and “The Fringes of a Fringe Group: Part-timers in Academe,” Part-time Faculty Series, 1–15, 40–52.

19. Leslie and Head, “Part-time Faculty Rights,” 60.

20. Tuckman and Vogler, “The Fringes of a Fringe Group,” 50–52.

21. Barbara H. Tuckman and Howard P. Tuckman, “Part Timers, Sex Discrimination, and Career Choice at Two­Year Institutions: Further Findings from the AAUP Survey,” Academe 66 (1980): 71–76.

22. A policy of prorated compensation is often seen as an attempt to eliminate part-time faculty members by making them as expensive to employ as are full timers. This is not what we propose. We believe there should be the option of part-time employment for those who prefer it and, moreover, that only those whose qualifications and duties are comparable in every way except in amount of time to those of full-time faculty have a claim to pro­rata compensation.

23. Tuckman and Vogler, “The Fringes of a Fringe Group,” 40–42.

24. Ibid.

25. Tuckman and Vogler, “The Fringes of a Fringe Group,” 49.

26. TIAA­CREF allows a part-time faculty member to participate in its annuity plans, even in the absence of an employer’s contribution. This can afford a useful tax shelter to some.