Contingent Faculty Positions

What are "contingent faculty positions"? 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 are insecure, unsupported positions with little job security and few protections for academic freedom. These are the working conditions for the vast majority of US faculty today. Something needs to change.

The AAUP works to reduce contingency in multiple ways.

Many AAUP chapters, both unionized and nonunionized, include faculty in contingent positions and work on local issues relating to contingency. The One Faculty campaign is designed to help chapters make concrete gains for faculty with contingent appointments. It grew out of the AAUP's long history as an organization seeking to improve working conditions, shared governance, economic security, and academic freedom for all who teach and do research in our universities and colleges. It explains why a united faculty is a strong faculty and includes specific guidelines for bargaining key contract issues.

At the national level,

  • We compile data on trends in faculty status and conduct an annual faculty compensation survey that now includes compensation for faculty on part-time appointments as well as those on full-time tenure and nontenure track appointments.
  • We counsel faculty whose academic freedom may have been violated and help faculty groups assess and improve faculty handbooks to improve policies, including those relating to faculty appointments. 
  • On occasions when serious violations of academic freedom or due process may have occurred, we investigate and report on our findings. 
  • Through webinars, written resources, and our annual Summer Institute, we provide education and training for AAUP members on how to improve working conditions and faculty appointments. 

See more resources on contingent faculty appointments.