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New Report on Contingent Faculty and Governance

Update: The report discussed below was revised and adopted by the AAUP Council in fall 2012 and published in its final version in January 2013.

As the AAUP has documented time and time again, the proportion of faculty appointments that are “contingent”—lacking the benefits and protections of tenure and a planned long-term relationship with an institution—has increased dramatically over the past few decades. By 2009—the latest year for which national data are available—75 percent of US faculty appointments were off the tenure track, and 60 percent were part-time.

The structures of faculty governance, however, as well as AAUP policies on the subject tend to assume a faculty that is employed primarily full time and on the tenure track. The participation in institutional and departmental governance of faculty holding contingent appointments—the great majority of faculty—is uneven, with some institutions encouraging it, some barring it, and others incorporating various groups of contingent faculty in different, sometimes token, ways. In short, the current state of affairs couples a steadily rising proportion of faculty in contingent appointments with a system in which such faculty are only sometimes included in governance structures.

A report just out from the AAUP examines these issues and makes recommendations for the inclusion of faculty holding contingent appointments in campus governance structures.

Recommendations include:

  • Faculty members who hold contingent appointments should be afforded responsibilities and opportunities in governance similar to those of their tenured and tenure-track colleagues.
  • Institutional policies should define as “faculty” and include in governance bodies at all levels individuals whose appointments consist primarily of teaching or research activities conducted at a professional level.
  • Eligibility for voting and holding office should be the same for all faculty regardless of full- or part-time status.
  • All members of the faculty should be eligible to vote in all elections for college and university governance bodies on the basis of one person, one vote.
  • While faculty in contingent appointments may be restricted from participating in the evaluation of tenured and tenure-track faculty, they should have the opportunity to contribute to the evaluation of contingent faculty.
  • All faculty members should, in the conduct of governance activities, be explicitly protected by institutional policies from retaliation.
  • Faculty holding contingent appointments should be compensated in a way that takes into consideration the full range of their appointment responsibilities, which should include service.

Produced by a joint subcommittee of two AAUP standing committees, the report is published for comment and may be revised in response to comments received. Comments should be addressed to Gwendolyn Bradley ( by September 10.


Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 26, 2012