Contingent Appointments and the Academic Profession

The statement that follows was prepared by a joint subcommittee of the Association’s Committee on Contingent Faculty and the Profession (formerly the Committee on Part-Time and Non-tenure-track Appointments) and Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and adopted by the Association’s Council in November 2003. Statistical information in the report was updated in 2014.

You can also see just the report's recommendations.

Ten years ago, the Association addressed the conditions and status of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty in a thoroughly documented report.1  Since that time, faculty work has become more fragmented, unsupported, and destabilized. Faculty members are now classified in a growing number of categories with new titles and with distinct responsibilities, rights, and privileges.2 

The proportion of faculty who are appointed each year to tenure-line positions is declining at an alarming rate. Because faculty tenure is the only secure protection for academic freedom in teaching, research, and service, the declining percentage of tenured faculty means that academic freedom is increasingly at risk. Academic freedom is a fundamental characteristic of higher education, necessary to preserve an in dependent forum for free inquiry and expression, and essential to the mission of higher education to serve the common good. This report examines the costs to academic freedom incurred by the current trend toward overreliance on part-and full-time non-tenure-track faculty.

A common thread runs through earlier statements and reports on the topic of part-time and non-tenure-track appointments. Some of these statements, which were adopted by the Association’s committees and Council over the last three decades, are described in an addendum following this report. They acknowledge the economic and managerial pressures that have been presented— in good economic times and bad— as justification for a constantly increasing reliance on part-and full-time non-tenure-track appointments. But they also clearly articulate the dangers to the quality of American higher education that are inherent in this trend.

Consistent with the Association’s earlier statements, this report and its recommendations proceed from the premise that faculty in higher education must have academic freedom protected by academic due process. It emphasizes the importance of preserving for all faculty the integrity of the profession, founded on the interaction of research, teaching, and service, and it offers recommendations for institutions and academic departments that are undertaking to restabilize their faculties by increasing the proportion of full-time tenure-line appointments.

While this statement emphasizes the necessity of correcting the growing dependence on contingent faculty appointments, the Association recognizes the significant contrast between current practices and the recommendations on faculty work offered here as necessary for the well-being of the profession and the public good. Therefore, the statement both offers guidelines by which institutions and faculties can plan and implement gradual transitions to a higher proportion of tenurable positions and, at the same time, affirms the development of intermediate, ameliorative measures by which the academic freedom and professional integration of faculty currently appointed to contingent positions can be enhanced by academic due process and assurances of continued employment.

Definition  of Contingent Faculty

The term “contingent faculty” includes both part-and full-time faculty who are appointed off the tenure track. The term calls attention to the tenuous relationship between academic institutions and the part-and full-time non-tenure-track faculty members who teach in them. For example, teachers hired to teach one or two courses for a semester, experts or practitioners who are brought in to share their field experience, and whole departments of full-time non-tenure-track English composition instructors are all “contingent faculty.” The term includes adjuncts, who are generally compensated on a per-course or hourly basis, as well as full-time non-tenure-track faculty who receive a salary.

For purposes of a policy discussion, these faculty cannot be separated neatly into two groups— part time and full time— based on the number of hours they work. Some faculty members are classified by their institutions as “part time,” even though they teach four or five courses per term.3  Whether these faculty members teach one class or five, the common characteristic among them is that their institutions make little or no long-term commitment to them or to their academic work. The fact that many non-tenure-track faculty are personally committed to academic careers, even while putting together a patchwork of teaching opportunities in one or more institutions in order to sustain themselves, has become all but irrelevant in institutional practice.

A small percentage of part-time faculty bring the benefit of expertise in a narrow specialty to add depth or specificity to the course offerings otherwise available at an institution.4 Another small percentage are practitioners of a profession such as law, architecture, or business and bring their direct experience into the classroom in a class or two each week. While many individuals with such appointments may find the conditions of part-time academic employment acceptable, their situation is the exception rather than the norm, and therefore should not serve as the primary model for a policy discussion.5 The vast majority of non-tenure-track faculty, part and full time, do not have professional careers outside of academe, and most teach basic core courses rather than narrow specialties.6

Graduate students who teach classes fall along a spectrum. At one end is the student who teaches a reasonable number of classes as part of his or her graduate education. At the other end is the person who teaches independently, perhaps for many years, but not in a probationary appointment, while he or she completes a dissertation. To the extent that a person functions in the former group, as a graduate student, his or her teaching load should be carefully structured to further—not frustrate— the completion of his or her formal education. To the extent that a person functions in the latter group, undertaking independent teaching activities that are similar in nature to those of regular faculty, the term “contingent faculty” should apply. (For a more detailed discussion, see the AAUP’s Statement on Graduate Students.7)

Postdoctoral fellowships, particularly in the humanities, are being used in new ways that, in effect, create a new employment tier prior to a tenure-track appointment. The concept of “contingent faculty” includes postdoctoral fellows who are employed off the tenure track for periods of time beyond what could reasonably be considered the extension and completion of their professional training. Institutions’ increased reliance on postdocs to handle their teaching and research needs tends to delay the access of these individuals to appropriate security in the profession, and to create yet another requirement for new PhDs seeking tenure-line appointments, thereby undermining reasonable expectations of long-term institutional commitments to new faculty.

Nontenured Majority

At most universities and colleges, the number of tenure-track positions now available is insufficient to meet institutional teaching and research needs. To staff essential courses, most institutions hire both part-and full-time faculty off the tenure track on short-term contracts and in other less formal arrangements.

Ten years ago, the Association reported that non-tenure-track appointments accounted for about 58 percent of all faculty positions in American higher education.8  As of 1998, such appointments still accounted for nearly three out of five faculty positions, in all types of institutions. 9 In community colleges, more than three out of five positions are part-time non-tenure-track positions, and 35 percent of all full-time positions are off the tenure track. Non-tenure-track appointments make up an even larger proportion of new appointments. Through the 1990s, in all types of institutions, three out of four new faculty members were appointed to non-tenure-track positions.10 

The number of full-time non-tenure-track appointments is growing even faster than the number of part-time non-tenure-track appointments. Full-time appointments off the tenure track were almost unknown a generation ago; in 1969, they amounted to 3.3 percent of all full-time faculty positions.11 But between 1992 and 1998, the number of full-time non-tenure-track faculty increased by 22.7 percent, from 128,371 to 157,470. During that same period, the number of part-time non-tenure-track faculty increased by only 9.4 percent, from 360,087 to 393,971, and the number of full-time tenure-line faculty increased by less than 1 percent. By 1998, full-time non-tenure-track faculty comprised 28.1 percent of all full-time faculty and 16 percent of all faculty. Part-time non-tenure-track faculty comprised 95 percent of all part-time faculty, and 40 percent of all faculty.12 

“Non-regular” appointments, including both part-time faculty and the rapidly growing group of full-time non-tenure-track faculty, have become the norm.13 These appointments require only minimal commitment from the institution, and they result in a predictably high level of faculty turnover. Most non-tenure-track appointments are very brief in duration, lasting for only one or two terms. Only a quarter of all part-time faculty appointments extend beyond two terms. Full-time non-tenure-track faculty serve most frequently in one-year appointments.14 

Women are more strongly represented among part-time faculty than among full-time faculty. As of 1998, 48 percent of all part-time faculty were female, while only 36 percent of all full-time faculty were female.15 Women who do hold full-time positions are more strongly represented among lecturer and instructor positions, with little opportunity for tenure. As of 2000, women made up 55 percent of lecturers, 58 percent of instructors, 46 percent of assistant professors, 36 percent of associate professors, and only 21 percent of full professors.16 Although the participation of women in the academic profession is increasing overall, the increase comes at a time when opportunities for full-time tenured positions are declining.

The minimal institutional commitment and relatively rapid turnover that characterize appointments of part-and full-time contingent faculty mean that few faculty members are available for long-term institutional and curricular planning, for mentoring newer faculty, and for other collegial responsibilities such as peer reviews of scholarship and evaluations for reappointment and tenure. The faculty as a whole is less stable when its members are increasingly unable to support these key academic activities.

Diminishing Investment in Education

The diminishing level of institutional commitment to a stable, full-time, tenured faculty might suggest that higher education is a fading value in our society— that perhaps there are fewer students, flagging interest in completing degrees, and lower enrollment in graduate studies. In fact, the opposite is true. Between 1976 and 1999, student enrollment in degree-granting institutions grew by 34 percent. During that time, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred increased by 31 percent, master’s degrees by 41 percent, and doctoral degrees by 35 percent.17 But instead of increasing proportionately the number of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty positions needed to teach these students and mentor these graduates, since 1976 institutions have increased the number of part-time faculty by 119 percent and the number of full-time non-tenure-track faculty by 31 percent.18 Most of these contingent faculty members teach undergraduates.19 

During part of this period of rapid enrollment growth, colleges and universities, especially public institutions, experienced serious budgetary pressures. In 1980, state governments supported almost a third (31 percent) of the cost of higher education in public institutions, with the rest of the higher education bud get depending on tuition and fees (21 percent), federal appropriations (15 percent), sales and services (21 percent), gifts and endowments (7 percent), and other sources, including local governments.20 By 1996, the burden had shifted considerably, with state budgets offering just 23 percent of the necessary support. The federal government also reduced its share of support, to 12 percent, and income from other sources stayed about the same. This left tuition and fees as the sole source for 28 percent of the revenue. Recent bud get constraints in nearly every state have further strained the support of public institutions.

As budgets tightened and tuition and fees increased through the 1980s and 1990s, institutions set new priorities. But even with substantial increases in student enrollments, many institutions chose to allocate proportionately less to their instructional budgets, and instead to increase spending on physical plants, new technologies and technology upgrades, and administrative costs. In 1998, the congressionally appointed National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education confirmed that investments in faculty had decreased in recent years, even as tuitions rose.21 In their testimony and comments to the commission, representatives of public and private institutions described pressures to compete for students by investing heavily in recreational facilities, updated dormitories, and the latest computer technologies. Institutions made up for these heavy expenditures by reducing instructional budgets, which they accomplished by hiring more contingent faculty instead of making a commitment to tenure-line faculty. While this choice may have improved the infrastructure on many campuses, it has undoubtedly imposed a cost on the quality of instruction. Though incoming students may find finer facilities, they are also likely to find fewer full-time faculty with adequate time, professional support, and resources available for their instruction.

Costs of Increased Contingency

The dramatic increase in the number and proportion of contingent faculty in the last ten years has created systemic problems for higher education. Student learning is diminished by reduced contact with tenured faculty members, whose expertise in their field and effectiveness as teachers have been validated by peer review and to whom the institution has made a long-term commitment. Faculty governance is weakened by constant turnover and, on many campuses, by the exclusion of contingent faculty from governance activities. Inequities and physical distance among potential colleagues undermine the collegial atmosphere of academic institutions and hamper the effectiveness of academic decision making. The integrity of faculty work is threatened as parts of the whole are divided and assigned piecemeal to instructors, lecturers, graduate students, specialists, researchers, and even administrators. Academic freedom is weakened when a majority of the faculty cannot rely on the protections of tenure. The following paragraphs/ examine each of these problems as an educational cost that institutions incur when they choose not to invest adequately in their instructional missions.

Quality of Student Learning

Most educators agree that maintaining the quality of student learning is a major challenge for higher education. Recent studies have identified informal interactions with faculty outside the classroom, which “positively influence persistence, college graduation, and graduate school enrollments” of students, as one of the strongest positive factors contributing to student learning.22 Unfortunately, part-time faculty members, who are typically paid by the course, are discouraged by their employment arrangements from spending time outside of class with students or on student-related activities, whether in office hours and less formal interactions or in class preparation and grading papers. In addition, the practice of paying very low wages to adjuncts pressures many to support themselves by seeking multiple course assignments on multiple campuses, thus further limiting their opportunities to interact with students. Full-time faculty generally spend 50 to 100 percent more time per credit hour on instruction, in and out of the classroom, than do part-time faculty.23 However, as a diminishing number of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty must take on additional institutional responsibilities that are not typically shared with contingent faculty, including faculty governance and institutional support of various kinds, tenure-track faculty may find that they are also pressed for time to spend with students outside of class. Students clearly bear the direct impact of reductions in institutional instructional budgets. The Association’s 1986 statement On Full-Time Non-tenure-track Appointments24 cautions:

We question whether the intellectual mission of a college or university is well served when the institution asserts that certain basic courses are indispensable for a liberal education but then assigns responsibility for those courses to faculty members who are deemed replaceable and unnecessary to the institution. Indeed, we believe that an institution reveals a certain indifference to its academic mission when it removes much of the basic teaching in required core courses from the purview of the regular professoriate.

Because of increased reliance on contingent faculty, students entering college now are less likely than those of previous generations to interact with tenured or tenure-track professors who, in turn, are fully engaged in their respective academic disciplines. It is the professional involvement of faculty in academic disciplines that ensures the quality, currency, and depth of the content being offered to students. But now, because of the time constraints imposed on contingent faculty, especially part-time faculty, teachers of undergraduate courses are less likely to be informed about the latest developments in an academic discipline and to be challenged by recent research and writing. It is difficult for part-time faculty to be flexible and responsive to students’ interests and abilities when they lack class preparation time and are required to deliver courses according to a predetermined curriculum. Contingent faculty, especially part-time faculty, are less likely than their tenure-line colleagues to have professional support such as office space, personal computers, and professional development opportunities. Because they lack resources and compensated time, contingent faculty may not be able to assign and supervise complex and meaningful projects.25 Students of contingent faculty may have diminished opportunity to reach beyond the limits of the course outline and the classroom, with their instructor’s support, to encounter a passion for scholarship and freedom of inquiry. Moreover, the heavy use of contingent faculty in fundamental first-and second-year undergraduate courses tends to separate tenure-track faculty from the introductory teaching that is critical to their understanding of the student body and of the basic questions that new students ask about their disciplines. This reduced contact with undergraduate students makes it more difficult for tenure-track faculty to sustain the cohesion and effectiveness of the curriculum. Finally, as the Association’s 1993 statement The Status of Non-tenure-track Faculty points out, faculty with non-tenure-track appointments “serve with their academic freedom in continuous jeopardy.” It is therefore not surprising, the statement notes, that “the more cautious among them are likely to avoid controversy in their classrooms” and thus to deprive their students of that quintessential college experience.

Equity among Academic Colleagues

Inequities begin in the appointment process. Appointments of full-time tenure-track faculty typically follow rigorous national searches, which include a review of the candidate’s scholarly record, an assessment of teaching potential, and consideration of other attributes by faculty in the department offering the appointment. Contingent faculty, by contrast, are often appointed in hurried circumstances. Department chairs select likely candidates from a local list, reviewing their curricula vitae and perhaps their past student evaluations. Faculty in most contingent positions are rarely reviewed and evaluated during their appointments, and little care is taken to enhance their professional development and advancement. In many institutions, evaluations are the responsibility of the busy dean or chair who appointed the individual, and may be neglected unless complaints or problems arise. By contrast, in other institutions, contingent faculty are constantly evaluated, sometimes by faculty members with much less experience, or even by graduate students.

Economic differences provide an even sharper contrast between part-time contingent faculty and tenured faculty. While part-time faculty who teach in professional and vocational schools or programs are likely to hold full-time positions outside the academy, those who teach in core liberal arts fields  such as English, foreign languages, history, and mathematics are more likely to rely on their teaching for their livelihood. This means that a sizeable corps of college teachers lacks access to employment benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans.26 To support themselves, part-time faculty often must teach their courses as piecework, commuting between institutions, preparing for courses on a grueling timetable, striving to create and evaluate appropriately challenging assignments, and making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students. A large gap in working conditions exists even between the most experienced part-time faculty members and newly appointed tenure-track faculty members.

Contingent faculty, both part and full time, are constantly confronted with reminders of their lack of status in the academic community. The isolation of contingent faculty from opportunities to interact with their tenured or tenure-track colleagues and to participate in faculty governance, professional development, and scholarly pursuits promotes divisions and distinctions that undermine the collegial nature of the academic community. Taken together, these inequities weaken the whole profession and diminish its capacity to serve the public good.

Integrity of Faculty Work

Higher education achieves its unique standing in our society because it is characterized by original research, teaching that is grounded in scholarly disciplines, and service to the larger community, all supported and protected by academic freedom Institutions rely on the professional responsibility of the faculty to maintain a strong commitment to student learning and to the development of scholarship. Indeed, the Association’s founding statement, the 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure,27 describes the public purposes of a college or university as teaching, scholarship, and service. The relative emphasis placed on teaching, scholarship, and service by a faculty member varies according to the terms of his or her appointment and academic discipline and the type of institution at which he or she works. But although emphases vary, these functions are not completely divisible. Faculty work cannot be sliced cleanly into component parts without losing the important connections that make up the whole. For example, while teaching may be the primary mission of certain types of institutions or programs, teaching faculty recognize the need to engage in scholarly work in order to remain current and effective as teachers in their respective disciplines. Similarly, research universities support original research, but research faculty typically share new information and insights with the university community by teaching in a graduate program and by consulting with academic colleagues. In all types of institutions, faculty share a responsibility for academic decision making. Faculty participation in governance structures is an essential feature of higher education, ensuring that programs and courses are of high quality and are academic in nature. Faculty also serve the university or college in many ways, such as by acting as faculty advisers to student organizations, providing information to prospective students and their parents, and supporting student activities. Finally, the university’s ability to be of service to the community at large depends on the availability of faculty to share their academic knowledge outside of academe. Services ranging from providing economic development advice to local governments and community organizations to advising local schools on college preparatory courses tie the university or college to the larger community, and help to inform the institution’s research and teaching functions.

Tenured and tenure-track faculty are expected to engage to some extent in teaching, scholarship, and service, and their salaries and teaching loads reflect that expectation. Faculty holding contingent appointments, on the other hand, are rarely compensated for time spent on shared governance or other service. The professional development and scholarly accomplishments of contingent faculty are often viewed as irrelevant or simply ignored.

To maintain the quality of higher education, faculty must stay in contact with other scholars in their disciplines. Contingent appointments frustrate such involvement and hamper original research because they are unstable and because they rarely include institutional support for scholarly activities and professional development. Scholarship requires continuity. It is particularly difficult for faculty members with contingent appointments to engage in scholarly work when the conditions of their appointments vary from year to year (or even term to term). Access to scholarly resources such as libraries, collections, or laboratories varies widely with different types of appointments. Even full-time non-tenure-track appointments, arguably more stable than part-time appointments, leave little time for scholarly development, because faculty with these appointments tend to teach many more classes than tenured or tenure-track faculty. In doctoral institutions, full-time non-tenure-track faculty teach 50 percent more hours than tenure-track faculty, and in other four-year institutions, 15 percent more.28 

To support the essential mission of higher education, faculty appointments, including contingent appointments, should incorporate all aspects of university life: active engagement with an academic discipline, teaching or mentoring of undergraduate or graduate students, participation in academic decision making, and service on campus and to the surrounding community. Faculty who are appointed to less-than-full-time positions should participate at least to some extent in the full range of faculty responsibilities. For all faculty members in contingent positions, this participation should be supported by compensation and institutional resources and recognized in the processes of evaluation and peer review.

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom in colleges and universities is essential to the common good of a free society. Academic freedom rests on a solid base of peer review and as such is the responsibility of the entire profession. The profession protects academic freedom through a system of peer review that results in institutional commitment to faculty members. Faculty peers make careful judgments in the appointment process, conduct ongoing reviews that may lead to reappointments, and make evaluations that may determine the completion of the probationary period and the beginning of continuous tenure. Individual faculty members can exercise their professional inquiry and judgment freely because peer review affirms their competence and accomplishments in their fields.

By contrast, the attenuated relationship between the contingent faculty member and his or her department or institution can chill the climate for academic freedom. Currently, neither peer review nor academic due process operates adequately to secure academic freedom for most contingent faculty members. The lack of adequate protection for academic freedom can have visible results. Contingent faculty may be less likely to take risks in the classroom or in scholarly and service work. The free exchange of ideas may be hampered by the specter of potential dismissal or nonrenewal for unpopular utterances. In this chilling atmosphere, students may be deprived of the robust debate essential to citizenship. They may be deprived of rigorous and honest evaluations of their work. Likewise, faculty may be discouraged from explorations of new knowledge and experimentation with new pedagogies. Perhaps most important, institutions may lose the opportunity to receive constructive criticism of academic policies and practices from a significant portion of the academic community.

To secure academic freedom for the entire profession, and to ensure the highest quality in teaching and research, the responsibilities of faculty peers in the appointment and evaluation of colleagues for contingent faculty positions should resemble those for appointments on the tenure track. Faculty members appointed and reappointed to contingent positions should receive conscientious and thorough peer reviews in which they can demonstrate their effectiveness; their successive reappointments would then validate their record of competence and accomplishments in their respective fields.

Resting securely on a base of peer review, academic freedom is best guaranteed by tenure and academic due process. We here affirm long-standing Association policy that, with carefully circumscribed exceptions, all full-time appointments are of two kinds: probationary appointments and appointments with continuous tenure. According to the joint 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure “[a]fter the expiration of a probationary period, teachers or investigators should have permanent or continuous tenure, and their services should be terminated only for adequate cause . . . or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies.”29 For full-time faculty the probationary period should not exceed seven years, and those who are reappointed beyond seven years should be recognized as having the protections that would accrue with tenure— termination only for adequate cause and with due process.

To protect academic freedom and to ensure the highest quality in college and university education, colleges and universities need the stability of a tenured faculty. The Association’s 1993 report The Status of Non-tenure-track Faculty urges: “Whenever possible, the regular academic instruction of students should be the responsibility of faculty members who are responsible for the curriculum and participate in the governance of the institution, and to whom the institution is willing to make the commitment of tenure.” Where the ideal is not immediately reachable, faculties and administrations should both adopt concrete plans to increase the proportion of positions that are protected by tenure, and in the interim develop and implement practical safeguards for academic freedom for all faculty, and assurances of conscientious peer review and continued employment of well-qualified faculty, in order to maintain the quality of the education offered at the institution. This transitional phase should include at least these three elements:

  1. Part-and full-time contingent faculty should be provided opportunities to move into tenured positions (part or full time), the requirements for which should be defined, as always, by faculty peers.
  2. Part-time faculty, after a reasonable opportunity for successive reviews and reappointments, should have assurances of continued employment. (For examples of measures that provide such assurances, see the recommendations on tenure and academic due process in the following section of this report and the 1979 summary, Academic Freedom and Due Process for Faculty Members Who Serve Less Than Full Time.30)
  3. Faculty and administrators should exercise great care in recruiting and appointing new faculty, for any position, to ensure that new faculty may have some prospect of eventually achieving tenure. Finally, it is important to note that tenure can be granted at any professional rank (or without rank); the Association does not link tenure with a particular faculty status. The professor in a research university, whose appointment includes a significant responsibility for original research, should not be the sole or primary model for tenurable academic work. A faculty member whose position focuses primarily on teaching, supported by sufficient opportunity for scholarship and service, is also engaged in tenurable academic work. Just as there are different emphases in the range of faculty appointments in research universities, comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges, all of which define tenurable faculty work, so, too, there may be different models for tenurable faculty work within a single institution.

Recommendations on Faculty Work

The work of faculty comprises an integrated whole; segmenting that work threatens the quality of higher education, undermines the reliability and effectiveness of academic decision making, undercuts the necessary protections of academic freedom, and imposes an unacceptable cost on student learning. The increased reliance of the academy on faculty whose academic freedom is not protected diminishes the professional autonomy and the intellectual independence of all faculty— essential elements of the mission of higher education. Knowing from long experience that academic freedom thrives in a relationship of commitment and responsibility between faculty and their institutions, the Association makes the following recommendations.

Faculty Work as an Integrated Whole

Faculty appointments, part or full time, should be structured to involve, at least to some extent, the full range of faculty responsibilities, including teaching activities both in and outside the classroom, scholarly pursuits such as contributions to an academic discipline or maintenance of professional currency, and service that ensures that academic decisions are well informed by the experience and expertise of all faculty and that the wider community shares in the benefits of the knowledge fostered by the university community.

Peer Review

Collegial support of academic freedom for the profession requires conscientious and thorough reviews of the work of all faculty members, including contingent faculty. Reviews should be conducted by faculty peers and should be structured to permit faculty members to demonstrate their competence and accomplishments in their respective fields . The records of reviews should validate faculty members’ effectiveness in their positions. Appointment, review, and reappointment processes should incorporate accepted practices of academic due process, and should give careful attention to the quality of education that the faculty member contributes to the institution.

Tenure and Academic Due Process

Teaching, scholarship, and service must be protected by academic freedom and due process. For faculty with full-time appointments, academic freedom must be protected by tenure following a reasonable probationary period. For faculty with full-time appointments, regardless of their titles, the probationary period should not exceed seven years. In addition, all part-time faculty, after appropriate successive reviews for reappointments, should have assurance of continuing employment. Such assurance can be provided through a variety of measures, some of which were recommended by the Association in 1993. Examples include longer terms of appointment, opportunities for advancement through ranks, due-process protections (described below), recognition of seniority (such as first opportunities for reappointment and course selection), conscientious peer evaluation, earlier notices of reappointment, and opportunities to appeal nonreappointment.

The Association affirms as partial protections of academic freedom for part-time faculty the following specific due-process provisions set forth in 1979: written terms and conditions of appointments, modifications, and extensions; a written statement of reasons and an opportunity to be heard before a duly constituted committee prior to involuntary termination during a period of appointment; access to a duly elected faculty grievance committee; and a statement of reasons and a hearing before a duly constituted faculty committee for nonreappointment, if the faculty member makes a prima facie case of an academic freedom violation or improper discrimination.

Shared Governance

Curricular and other academic decisions benefit from the participation of all faculty, especially those who teach core courses. Governance responsibilities should be shared among all faculty at an institution, including those appointed to less-than-full-time positions. Although part-time faculty have proportionately less time available for governance responsibilities, their appointments should provide for appropriate participation and compensation. Faculty and administrators in each institution, program, or department should together determine the appropriate modes and levels of participation in governance for part-time faculty, considering issues such as voting rights, representation, and inclusion in committees and governance bodies, with the primary aim of obtaining the best wisdom and cooperation of all colleagues in the governance of their institutions. Participation in shared governance requires vigilant support of academic freedom and the protections of due process. In order to protect the right and the responsibility of non-tenured as well as tenured faculty to participate freely and effectively in faculty governance, it is incumbent on all faculty to protect the exercise of academic freedom by their colleagues in faculty governance processes.


All faculty work should be compensated fairly. Positions that require comparable work, responsibilities, and qualifications should be comparably compensated, taking into account variations by discipline, seniority, and departmental priorities. As the Association recommended in 1993, compensation for part-time appointments, including those in which faculty are currently paid on a per-course or per-hour basis, should be the applicable fraction of the compensation (including benefits) for a comparable full-time position.31 Although the variety of responsibilities and qualifications required of each position may make comparability difficult to determine, it is the responsibility of duly constituted faculty bodies to meet this challenge.

Limitations of Contingent Appointments

Recognizing that current patterns of faculty appointment depart substantially from the ideal, the Association affirms its 1980 and 1993 recommendations that no more than 15 percent of the total instruction within an institution, and no more than 25 percent of the total instruction within any department, should be provided by faculty with non-tenure-track appointments.

For the long-term good of institutions and their students, the use of non-tenure-track appointments should be limited to specialized fields  and emergency situations. Faculty who hold such special and emergency appointments should have the protections of academic freedom, due process, and fair compensation as described above. Special appointments refer, for example, to sabbatical replacements, substitutes for leaves of absence, or limited “artist-in-residence” appointments. Special appointments should not exceed a small percentage of all faculty appointments, and the Association’s allowance for special appointments should not be construed as an endorsement of the thousands of full-time non-tenure-track faculty appointments that now comprise over 30 percent of all full-time faculty positions.

Flexible Scheduling

Within the context of tenure, a certain amount of flexibility in scheduling is an appropriate response to the needs of faculty at various career stages. The Association affirms the recommendation made in the 1987 statement Senior Appointments with Reduced Loads32 for opportunities “for faculty member[s] to move from a full to a reduced load and back to full-time status, depending on the needs of the individual and the institution.” Modified appointments— possibly with reduced workloads and salary, but without loss in status— might serve faculty members at various stages of life or career. The Association’s 2001 Statement of Principles on Family Responsibilities and Academic Work recommends, among other accommodations for faculty who are new parents, adjustments in the probationary period at the request of the faculty member.33 

These recommendations speak to all faculty—tenured, tenure track, and contingent. They urge a renewal of the conception of faculty work as an integrated whole that fits with and supports the mission of higher education for the public good. They urge an integration of principles of academic freedom and due process in the work of all faculty, and recommend inclusion of all faculty in the academic work of the institution. The Association recognizes the gap between these recommendations and current practices. This gap must be bridged in two ways: (1) by developing concrete mechanisms to integrate contingent faculty into the academic work of their institutions and to protect the academic freedom of faculty currently appointed to contingent positions, and (2) by increasing the proportion of positions protected by tenure. We offer below some practical guidelines for transitions to an improved ratio of tenured faculty. Each plan for transition, of course, must be customized to a particular institution, as developed by administrations and all faculty working together collegially.

Transition from Current to Best Practices

Transitions happen gradually. The professoriate’s transition from a body composed mainly of full-time tenure-line faculty to a body composed mainly of contingent faculty occurred over several de cades. Now, some institutions seek to recover the stability and quality of instruction lost in that transition. Some simply seek to improve the ratio of tenure-line faculty in one or more departments. Such changes do not have to be precipitate and jarring to institutions, to students, or to faculty members who were appointed on a contingent basis and have, nonetheless, tried to build an academic career. Both faculty and administrators participated in the decisions that have resulted in heavy reliance on contingent faculty, especially for undergraduate teaching. Both faculty and administrators now share the responsibility for reducing such reliance while minimizing the costs of change to current contingent faculty.

A transition to a stable, mostly tenured or tenure-eligible faculty can be accomplished by relying primarily on attrition, retirements, and the appointment of more faculty to meet the needs of the increasing number of students expected in coming de cades. Plans for conversion should be addressed by duly constituted faculty bodies that invite the participation of contingent faculty.

Instructional budgets, of necessity, compete for funds with other college and university priorities. Students, alumni, parents, and local legislators may be among the first to recognize the value of investments that strengthen the quality of undergraduate education and may assist in identifying the resources necessary for a transition.

For example, in 2001, the California legislature passed a resolution to increase the percentage of tenured and tenure-track faculty in the California State University system to 75 percent over an eight-year period. A system-wide working group adopted a plan that outlined a goal of improving the ratio of tenured and tenure-track faculty by 1.5 percent each year. The plan anticipated that many faculty holding non-tenure-track lecturer positions would apply successfully for newly created tenure-track positions, and that the remaining replacements of lecturer positions with tenure-track positions could be handled through attrition and retirements of lecturers. To meet the goal, the state undertook to conduct between 1,800 and 2,000 annual searches for new tenure-track faculty. The cost of recruiting, appointing, and compensating the new positions was estimated to be between $4.8 and $35 million in each of the eight years, which reflected an increase of 0.18 percent to 1.3 percent in the system-wide budget.34 

At Western Michigan University, the faculty successfully bargained for a contract that offered tenurable positions to a group of “faculty specialists” including health specialists and teachers in the College of Aviation. Because the faculty union and the institution had moved incrementally toward this step, first regularizing the positions by adopting position descriptions and promotional ranks and agreeing on some due-process provisions, and then offering job security with four-year reviews, the cost of the transition to the tenure track was negligible.35 

These two examples demonstrate that institutions committed to high-quality undergraduate education can plan appropriate steps to reduce their reliance on temporary faculty.

Preparation for a Transition

We make the following recommendations for systems, institutions, departments, or programs preparing to make a transition from an unstable academic environment characterized by overreliance on contingent faculty appointments to a stable academic environment characterized by a predominantly tenure-line faculty.

Assess the current situation. How many faculty members in each department are currently appointed off the tenure track? How many of such appointments are needed to serve the long-term best interests of the students and the institution? The current ratio of contingent faculty to tenured and tenure-track faculty should serve as a benchmark. As a transition begins, the institution or department should seek to reduce that ratio.

Define and describe the goal. Faculty and administrators should consider the end result sought. Different profiles of tenurable positions, with varied emphases given to teaching, research, and service as integral parts of faculty work, might suit the mission and work of different departments, programs, or institutions. Each department, program, or institution should consider which profiles best fi t its long-term needs. For example, the work of some tenured faculty, particularly at the undergraduate level, may emphasize teaching or service, while the work of others may emphasize research and graduate education. Some faculty may be eligible for tenure as specialists, as clinical instructors, or in other positions that vary from conventional faculty ranks of assistant, associate, and full professor.

To determine the number of tenured positions needed for each department, program, or institution, faculty and administrators should begin with the premise that core and advanced courses should be taught by faculty who have the protection of academic freedom, secured by tenure and academic due process, as well as the ability to participate fully in their profession and in the collegial environment of the academy. Duly constituted faculty bodies should determine the full complement of tenured and tenure-track faculty needed in a department, program, or institution. The number of tenure lines in the bud get of an institution or statewide system should reflect at least the number of faculty needed to teach the students enrolled in core and advanced courses offered on a continuing basis. Bud get constraints and other concerns may prevent the immediate realization of a full complement of tenured faculty. Nevertheless, the goal should be defined.

Consider appropriate criteria for tenure. A duly constituted body of faculty peers should determine tenure qualifications and requirements for each type of appointment. When a position is made “tenurable,” the relative emphasis on teaching, scholarship, and service necessary for that position, and therefore the qualifications that should be emphasized in tenure criteria for that position, may vary among departments and programs and among types of appointments.

Stabilize the situation. Having made a commitment to reduce reliance on a contingent teaching force, institutions should avoid appointing new contingent faculty during the transition. New contingent appointments, if any, should be limited to candidates whose qualifications, after a probationary period, are likely to meet the institution’s standards for tenure in the type of position being filled, in anticipation of eventual tenure eligibility. Such appointments should be made only in the context of a definite timetable, coupled with the commitment of appropriate resources, to convert the positions to tenure-track positions. Institutions should not rotate contingent faculty members through various types of appointments for the purpose of avoiding professional commitments to them.

Institutions should also avoid the proliferation of new types of contingent appointments and the proliferation of new names for existing types of appointments. Such proliferation increases the instability of the faculty and damages the careers of individual faculty members who are rotated through a variety of non-tenure-track positions.

Design a deliberate approach. Plans for a transition to a primarily tenured and tenure-track faculty should be structured to ensure the least possible disruption to student learning and faculty careers. A transition can be achieved through an incremental approach that relies in large part on the voluntary attrition of faculty holding contingent appointments. Contingent faculty, especially those who have been reappointed several times, should be included in faculty decision-making processes about the conversion of positions or the creation of new positions.

Faculty may determine that, during a period of transition, individuals currently holding teaching-only positions or other positions not presently recognized as tenurable may be “grandfathered” into tenured or tenurable positions. Based on their existing qualifications and consistently demonstrated effectiveness in their current work responsibilities, full-time non-tenure-track faculty who are reappointed for a period of time that is equivalent to the probationary period for tenure-track faculty should be recognized as being entitled, in their current positions, to the protections that would accrue with tenure. Part-time faculty whose effective academic service and accomplishments lead to successive reappointments should be accorded assurances of continued employment. (See the recommendations on tenure and academic due process, above.) When the “grandfathered” positions become vacant through attrition or retirement, new candidates can be recruited according to qualifications that faculty peers determine are necessary in the long term for the tenure-track positions.

When institutions create new tenurable positions in order to increase the proportion of tenured and tenure-track faculty, part-and full-time contingent faculty who have experience, length of service, and a record of accomplishments should be welcomed as applicants for such new positions. Because some of these faculty may have been serving ably in similar positions for many years, faculty peers should design an appropriate probationary period for tenure that takes into account their individual qualifications and experience.

Recognize costs and plan for necessary resources. Just as overreliance on contingent faculty has long-term costs to students and institutions, transition to a full-time tenured and tenure-eligible faculty has immediate costs. These costs represent an appropriate investment, primarily in undergraduate education. They are offset somewhat by the diminished administrative expense of handling high turnover among faculty teaching essential courses, but nevertheless may be significant, especially in times of tight budgets.

Converting full-time non-tenure-track positions to tenurable positions represents the smallest increase in expenditures, as the compensation for full-time contingent faculty is only marginally less than for assistant professors overall. But, as noted earlier, full-time contingent faculty typically carry a heavier teaching load than assistant professors on the tenure track (50 percent heavier in research institutions, 15 percent heavier in other four-year institutions). To integrate these positions fully into the profession, these full-time teachers would need to be relieved of some teaching duties to allow time for scholarship and service, even if their positions continue to emphasize teaching as a primary activity. However, as is suggested by the examples of the California State University system and Western Michigan University, incremental bud get increases may be sufficient to accommodate a conversion from contingency to stability.

Converting part-time positions to full-time tenurable positions presents a greater economic challenge. Part-time faculty are typically paid by the course, at roughly half the cost of full-time equivalent replacements.36 In addition, the institution typically incurs little or no financial liability for employment benefits for part-time faculty. The costs of a transition toward full-time tenure-track appointments can be spread out over time by such incremental steps as restructuring per-course appointments into fractional half-time or full-time appointments, with proportionate pay and benefits. Some part-time appointments, particularly of specialists and professional practitioners, may be appropriate to continue over a long term. In such cases, tenure eligibility for the part-time position, with proportionate compensation, should be considered.

Consistent with these recommendations, there are at least two ways to begin a transition from an unstable academic environment characterized by over-reliance on contingent faculty appointments to a stable academic environment characterized by a predominantly tenure-line faculty. One option is for institutions to convert the tenure-eligible status of faculty members currently holding contingent appointments. Another option is for the institution to create new tenure-eligible positions, recruiting broadly for these positions and gradually phasing out contingent positions.

Conversion of Status

Faculty and administrators at an institution may consider changing the status of existing positions from non-tenure-track to tenure line. The tenure-line positions can be either part or full time, depending on the needs of the department or program. When status is changed, the individuals holding the positions are offered a probationary period for tenure, and the following guidelines should be followed:

  1. Faculty should consider the work to be undertaken by those holding newly converted positions. Formerly non-tenure-track positions may need to be restructured or rearranged to allow the faculty members in such positions to assume the full range of faculty responsibilities, appropriate to the position, and to be compensated and recognized for those responsibilities.
  2. The experience and accomplishments of faculty members who have served in contingent positions at the institution should be credited in determining the appropriate length and character of a probationary period for tenure in the converted position.
  3. If the requirements of the position change when it becomes a tenure-line position, the faculty member in the position should be given time and appropriate professional-development support during a probationary period to enable him or her to meet the new requirements.

Creation of New Positions

Faculty and administrators at an institution may decide to create new tenure-track positions while reducing the number of new appointments of contingent faculty. When this is done, the following guidelines should be followed:

  1. Faculty should reconsider the academic work to be undertaken by those holding both new and existing tenure-line positions. Faculty responsibilities may need to be restructured or rearranged in order to ensure that undergraduate as well as graduate courses are appropriately staffed.
  2. When colleges and universities create new tenure-track positions, they should advertise widely to generate a diverse pool of applicants.
  3. Experienced, effective, and qualified faculty members currently holding contingent appointments should be encouraged to apply for the new tenure-track positions. In the selection and appointment process, faculty and administrators should recognize the value of continuity in teaching and familiarity with the institution’s programs as desirable criteria. Contingent faculty members should be given fair and careful consideration when new tenure-eligible positions are created, and their experience and accomplishments should be taken into account. Certainly, faculty charged with the selection of new colleagues should scrupulously avoid discrimination against applicants currently employed in contingent positions. In the context of a transition, faculty members who have served many years in contingent appointments should have the option of continuing in the same position, with the same qualifications and responsibilities.
  4. When institutions replace part-time positions with full-time positions, and/or contingent positions with tenure-track positions, they should create timetables that rely, insofar as possible, on attrition and voluntary terminations, in order to introduce the least possible disruption in the work lives of contingent faculty members who have served the institution well over a period of years.
  5. Plans for transition should be multi-year plans, including a realistic assessment of the resources needed to accomplish the change, and the steps necessary to commit the appropriate resources.


The integrity of higher education rests on the integrity of the faculty profession. To meet the standards and expectations appropriate to higher education, faculty need to incorporate teaching, scholarship, and service in their work, whether they serve full time or less than full time. The academic freedom that enlivens and preserves the value of academic work is protected by a responsible and reasonable commitment between the university or college and the faculty member. For the good of higher education and the good of society as a whole, this commitment must be preserved for all faculty. But the majority of faculty members now work without such a commitment from their institutions, and therefore without adequate protection of academic freedom.

This report has identified some of the real costs of overreliance on part-time and non-tenure-track faculty: costs to the quality of student learning, to equity among academic colleagues, to the integrity of faculty work, and to academic freedom. These costs are now borne primarily by students and by contingent faculty. In the long term, however, the cost of cutting corners on education will be borne by society as a whole as it gradually loses its independent academic sector.

For the good of institutions, of the educational experiences of students, and of the quality of education, the proportion of tenured and tenure-track faculty should be increased. Institutions that are now experimenting with ways to increase the proportion of tenured and tenure-track faculty are finding that the way back is complicated and somewhat treacherous. The guidelines for transition presented here do not offer a complete blueprint; they are intended instead as a beginning diagram or sketch to assist faculty and administrators who have made a commitment to change the structure of their faculty appointment and reappointment processes. Many details described in this report are left to the judgment of faculty members working within their institutional governance structures. Good-faith efforts to strengthen the commitment between institutions and the faculty members who carry out their academic missions will improve the quality of education offered at these institutions while preserving the integrity of the academic profession.

Addendum: Previous Reports on Contingent Faculty

Over the past few de cades, the Association and its committees have issued a number of statements and reports on part-time and non-tenure-track faculty. In 1979, at the request of the Committee on Women in the Academic Profession, Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure created a summary entitled Academic Freedom and Due Process for Faculty Members Who Serve Less Than Full Time. The text of the summary follows:

The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure calls for academic freedom for all who are engaged in teaching or research, and Committee A’s Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure includes provisions for due process for all faculty members, including those who serve less than full time. 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 [on 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 a period of appointment. Under Regulation 14b, a part-time faculty member who alleges a violation of academic freedom, or improper discrimination in the context of a nonreappointment, can, upon establishing a prima facie case before a duly constituted committee, receive a statement of reasons from those responsible for the nonreappointment and an opportunity to be heard by the committee. Under Regulation 15, part-time as well as full-time faculty members may seek redress from an elected faculty grievance committee.37 

A note following the text of the 1979 summary adds: “In addition to academic freedom and due process, Association policies applicable to faculty members serving less than full time include the statement on Leaves of Absence for Child-Bearing, Child-Rearing, and Family Emergencies, which recommends that a temporary reduction in workload be made available to faculty members with family responsibilities; and [the] statement on Senior Appointments with Reduced Loads which proposes that ‘senior academic appointments and tenure [be open] to persons other than those giving full-time service.’ ”38 

Other early statements, such as The Status of Part-Time Faculty, issued in 1980 by Committee A, draw a clear line between faculty members who serve less than full time and faculty members who have a workload “equivalent to that of full-time faculty.”39 Faculty members in the latter group are “entitled regardless of . . . specific title, to the rights and privileges of . . . full-time faculty members,” including consideration for tenure after a probationary period. Setting aside that group, the 1980 report then focuses on part-time faculty. Citing a “common concern for academic quality,” the report recommends that attention be given to “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 , and the chilling effect on their teaching which lack of the protections of academic due process may engender.”

Thus, the 1980 report acknowledges the professional nature of all faculty work and urges that all faculty, part time as well as full time, be included in all aspects of the work of the profession.

The 1980 report also addresses, for the first time, the issue of tenure for part-time faculty, proposing that colleges and universities “consider creating a class of regular part-time faculty members” who could qualify for tenure in less-than-full-time appointments. The 1987 statement Senior Appointments with Reduced Loads clarifies that such arrangements might be useful not only for faculty members seeking a reduced workload as a step toward retirement but also for those seeking to balance family and professional responsibilities. The statement recommends that “opportunity should exist for the faculty member to move from a full to a reduced load and back to full-time status, depending on the needs of the individual and the institution.”

In 1986, in a report titled On Full-Time Non-tenure-track Appointments, Committee A described the efforts of a subcommittee to assess the “current dimensions” of the practice of appointing full-time non-tenure-track faculty and to analyze the adverse implications of the continuing proliferation of these appointments. The 1986 report also addresses the stated reasons for such appointments and their observable effects on higher education. Institutions defend non-tenure-track appointments primarily in terms of cost savings and flexibility, but the report observes that direct savings were possible in the short term and only at an “inordinately high cost to the quality of the entire academic enterprise.” The assertion that non-tenure-track faculty appointments were needed for flexibility to meet changing student demand, the subcommittee reported, was belied by the extensive (and, we could say now, continuing and long-term) use of such appointments in core academic courses, especially in the humanities.

The 1986 report notes that the proliferation of non-tenure-track appointments created a divided faculty, in which a large proportion of teachers was not involved in curricular and academic decision making, not supported in scholarship, and neither compensated nor recognized for advising and other services that make up the whole of faculty work. The committee surmises that this situation undermined the attractiveness and economic security of the academic profession, and sent a message that prospective faculty members would be wise to seek careers in commercial and other sectors.

In 1993, the Association adopted as policy The Status of Non-tenure-track Faculty. That report, written at a time when about half of all faculty appointments in American higher education were off the tenure track, takes a fresh look at non-tenure-track faculty, both part and full time, as a group. The report catalogues the increase of both kinds of appointments, the exploitation of faculty in such positions, and the accelerating negative effects of these practices on higher education. Several topics are addressed with greater specificity than in previous statements. These include the need for job security, benefits, and opportunities for advancement; the need for participation in governance; and the conversion of part-time appointments to tenure-track positions. The basic premise of the 1993 report is the necessity for the replacement of contingent positions with tenured positions for most faculty. Then, as now, the Association was unwilling to assent to the establishment of a subordinate tier of faculty members, without full status and responsibility within the academy.


1. “The Status of Non-tenure-track Faculty,” Academe 79 (July– August 1993): 39– 46. Back to text

2. Douglas McGray, “Title Wave,” New York Times, August 4, 2002. McGray notes that “the Army has fewer titles to classify soldiers (twenty-four from private through general) than a typical research university has to classify teachers (forty from teaching fellow to professor emeritus, at Harvard).” Back to text

3. Long-standing Association policy determines full-time status by the individual’s functions in the institution, not by his or her title. The “1970 Interpretive Comments” to the 1940 “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” states, “The concept of ‘rank of full-time instructor or a higher rank’ is intended to include any person who teaches a full-time load, regardless of the teacher’s specific title.” Many part-time faculty teach at several institutions, so that their aggregate amount of work equals or exceeds the equivalent of a full-time load. Even so, their relationship to each institution is that of a part-time faculty member. Back to text

4. For example, instruction in the performance of an unusual musical instrument or in the application of a particular computer program to a specific industry. Back to text

5. This report does not address the complexities of “clinical” faculty appointments in disciplines such as law, social work, and health sciences. The Association addressed clinical appointments in medical schools in “Tenure in the Medical School” (1995), in AAUP, Policy Documents and Reports, 11th ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), 73–78. That report states, in part, “To the extent that a faculty appointment at a medical school resembles a traditional academic appointment, with clearly understood obligations in teaching, research, and service, the burden of proof on the institution is greater to justify making the appointment a non-tenure-track position.” This provision may well be applicable to clinical appointments in other disciplines. Back to text

6. “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff: Who They Are, What They Do, and What They Think,” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), US Department of Education (http:// /pubs2002/2002163u .pdf). See Tables 4, 18, and 31. According to Table 18, part-time instructors rely on income from their academic work for up to 44 percent of their total income. The original source of much of the data used in this statement is the 1999 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, which may systematically underrepresent the number of part-time faculty. Faculty are included in the survey only when information on them is available through a central institutional list; when they are available at the same institution for a period of several months, perhaps extending over two terms; and when they can be reached through the institution to complete the survey. Adjunct faculty who teach one or two courses at a time on several different campuses may be unlikely to meet these three conditions. Back to text

7. Policy Documents and Reports, 387–88. Back to text

8. By fall 2011, an estimated 71 percent of all faculty positions were off the tenure track. In community colleges, 70 percent of faculty positions were part time, and 45 percent of full-time positions were off the tenure track (John W. Curtis, The Employment Status of Instructional Staff Members in Higher Education, Fall 2011, American Association of University Professors, April 2014: 13, Table 7). Back to text

9. “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff,” Tables 1 and 12. Back to text

10. Martin J. Finkelstein and Jack H. Schuster, “Assessing the Silent Revolution: How Changing Demographics Are Reshaping the Academic Profession,” AAHE Bulletin (October 2001): 5, Figure 2. A majority of full-time appointments were off the tenure track in 1993, 1995, and 1997, as are virtually all part-time appointments. In a subsequent work, Schuster and Finkelstein documented that more than half of new full-time appointments were off the tenure track from 1993 through 2003, with the proportion of non-tenure-track appointments rising through the period (Jack H. Schuster and Martin J. Finkelstein, The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006], 194, Figure 7.1). Figures for 2009 from the US Department of Education indicate that 58 percent of new full-time appointments in that year were off the tenure track. Back to text

11. Ibid., 5. Back to text

12. “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff,” Tables 1 and 12. As of fall 2011, non-tenure-track faculty members composed 40.0 percent of the full-time faculty and 19.4 percent of all faculty members. Part-time faculty composed 51.4 percent of the faculty (John W. Curtis, The Employment Status of Instructional Staff Members in Higher Education, Fall 2011, American Association of University Professors, April 2014: 13, Table 7). Back to text

13. Finkelstein and Schuster, “Assessing the Silent Revolution,” 5. Back to text

14. “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff,” Table 13. See also John W. Curtis and Saranna Thornton, “Here’s the News: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2012– 13,” Academe 99 (March– April 2013): 4– 19. Back to text

15. “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff,” Table 6. “Full-time faculty” includes tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track faculty. In fall 2011, 52.5 percent of part-time faculty members were women, while women composed 44.2 percent of full-time faculty members (John W. Curtis, The Employment Status of Instructional Staff Members in Higher Education, Fall 2011, American Association of University Professors, April 2014: 23, Table 12). Back to text

16. Marcia Bellas, AAUP Faculty Salary and Faculty Distribution Fact Sheet, 2000– 01 (2002). In academic year 2012– 13, women made up 56 percent of full-time lecturers, 61 percent of instructors, 51 percent of assistant professors, 43 percent of associate professors, and 29 percent of full professors (unpublished analysis from the AAUP “Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession,” Academe 99 [March– April 2013]). Back to text

17. “Digest of Education Statistics 2001,” NCES, US Department of Education ( http:// /pubs2002 /2002130 .pdf), Tables 172 and 247. Between fall 1976 and fall 2012, total enrollment in degree-granting institutions grew by 87 percent. Between 1976– 77 and 2011– 12, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded increased by 80 percent, master’s degrees by 67 percent, and doctoral degrees by 78 percent (“Digest of Education Statistics 2013,” NCES, US Department of Education [ http:// /programs /digest /], Tables 303.10 and 318.40). Back to text

18. “Fall Staff in Postsecondary Institutions, 1997,” NCES, US Department of Education (http:// /2000164 .pdf)—committee calculations from the data. Between 1976 and 2011, the number of part-time faculty members increased by 286 percent. From 1976 to 2011, the number of full-time non-tenure-track faculty members grew by 259 percent (John W. Curtis and Saranna Thornton, “Losing Focus: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2013– 14,” Academe 100 [March– April 2014]: 7, Figure 1). Back to text

19. “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff,” Table 30. Back to text

20. “Digest of Education Statistics 2001,” Table 330. Many colleges, including public colleges, sell some of their services locally and internationally. This category may also include fees for the use of facilities, conference income, and the like. A direct comparison with earlier years is difficult, because the categories used for financial reporting have changed. In fiscal year 2011– 12, public colleges and universities obtained approximately 22 percent of total revenues from state governments, 21 percent from tuition and fees, and 17 percent from the federal government (“Digest of Education Statistics 2013,” Table 333.10). Back to text

21. National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, Straight Talk about College Costs and Prices (Washington, DC: Oryx Press, 1998). Back to text

22. Ernst Benjamin, “How Over Reliance on Contingent Appointments Diminishes Faculty Involvement in Student Learning,” Peer Review (February 2002): 4– 10. Benjamin discusses studies by Alexander Astin, George Kuh, Ernest Pascarella, and Patrick Terenzini. Back to text

23. Ernst Benjamin, “Reappraisal and Implications for Policy and Research” [of excessive reliance on contingent appointments], New Directions for Higher Education 123 (October 2003): 79– 113. According to Benjamin, full-time contingent faculty spend about the same amount of time on instructional activities as tenured and tenure-track faculty, but for contingent faculty, more of that time is spent in teaching. Thus, the time available for interaction with students, and for preparation and assessment outside of class, is significantly lower on a per-credit basis than it is for probationary tenure-track faculty. Benjamin’s tables are based on data from the 1999 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty and include all work hours, paid and unpaid, attributed to an institution by part-time faculty. For full-time faculty, “nonclassroom instructional time” includes time for grading papers, preparing courses, developing new curricula, advising or supervising students, and working with student organizations or intramural activities. Back to text

24. Policy Documents and Reports, 190–96. Back to text

25. For examples, see “Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff,” Tables 36– 39 and 40– 47. Back to text

26. Ernst Benjamin, “Variations in the Characteristics of Part-Time Faculty by General Fields of Instruction and Research,” New Directions for Higher Education 104 (December 1998): 45– 59. Back to text

27. Policy Documents and Reports, 3–12. Back to text

28. Benjamin, “Reappraisal and Implications for Policy and Research.” Back to text

29. The 1940 “Statement” also allowed termination of tenured appointments “in the case of retirement for age,” which has now been superseded by federal law. Back to text

30. The summary is included in “Previous Reports on Contingent Faculty,” at the end of this report. It was originally published in the “Report of Committee A, 1978– 79,” Academe 65 (September 1979): 293– 303. Back to text

31. “The Status of Non-tenure-track Faculty.” Essential benefits include health-care insurance, life insurance, and retirement contributions. Back to text

32. Policy Documents and Reports, 169. Back to text

33. Ibid., 339–46. Back to text

34. Office of the Chancellor, California State University, “A Plan to Increase the Percentage of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty in the California State University,” July 2002. To put this figure in context, in the same year, CSU considered a system-wide computer upgrade that would have cost $160 million. Back to text

35. Information on Western Michigan University’s contract is drawn from Gary Mathews, “Contract Issues Continue to Percolate and Brew,” WMU-AAUP Advocate (October 2002); Piper Fogg, “Widening the Tenure Track,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 3, 2003; and Article 20 of the WMU-AAUP contract, WMU-AAUP website at http:// Back to text

36. Benjamin, “Reappraisal and Implications for Policy and Research.” Back to text

37. The references to specific regulations are to the 1976 “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” AAUP Bulletin 62 (August 1976): 184– 91. The addition of Regulation 13 in 2007 has both superseded the recommendations here and caused regulations numbered 13 and above to be renumbered as 14 and above. See “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” Policy Documents and Reports, 79–90. Back to text

38. “Leaves of Absence for Child-Bearing, Child-Rearing, and Family Emergencies” has been superseded by the 2001 “Statement of Principles on Family Responsibilities and Academic Work,” Policy Documents and Reports, 339–46. Back to text

39. Academe 67 (February– March 1981): 29– 39. Another example is a 1978 Committee A report, “On Full-Time Non-tenure-track Appointments,” superseded by the 1986 report cited above. See AAUP Bulletin 64 (September 1978): 267– 73. Back to text