First, what’s contingency? For AAUP, “contingent faculty” is an umbrella term encompassing all non-tenure-system faculty — that is, faculty who, to different degrees, experience precarity. If you’re not clear on why, say, lecturers and VAPs at Miami count as “precarious,” please see this post.
Contingency matters to tenure-line faculty. Why?
- Shared governance (faculty’s ability to affect decisions) is threatened when fewer & fewer faculty are enfranchised.
- Reduction in TT numbers leads to increased service loads & reduced time for research.
- Market/efficiency oriented thinking provides ready argument for using the cheapest labor available, & availability of cheap labor means tenure-line numbers will continue to decrease whenever there is a “crisis.”
- Academic freedom is diminished and threatened. (For more on academic freedom at Miami, see here.)
What are the end results of contingency?
An insecure labor force, lack of opportunities for research, and lack of academic freedom in academia is harmful to students, faculty, and citizens. The university’s educational mission is increasingly restricted from free inquiry and reduced to career training, resulting in less informed citizens. Citizens become increasingly less capable of critical thought and creative solutions to the problems the world faces.
What to do?
Tenure-line faculty can try to improve their conditions without seeking solidarity with contingents. But unless TT and non-TT faculty join together and organize, budget pressures and reduced faculty power mean that TT numbers could continue to erode until almost all faculty (if not all faculty) are contingent.
AAUP’s One Faculty movement explains that “the best way to halt the erosion of tenure and to extend economic security and other rights to contingent faculty is by organizing and using our collective strength—working together in solidarity across faculty ranks…The participation of all faculty in shared governance strengthens the faculty’s voice.”
We can fight contingency and win. Become part of AAUP’s One Faculty movement by joining AAUP and becoming active in Miami’s AAUP Advocacy Chapter.
Chapter Director of Research David Walsh, with the help of co-president Cathy Wagner, gave an in-depth and fascinating presentation tonight sharing new data gathered by the chapter and giving a faculty-view perspective on salaries, benefits, and staffing at Miami.
• Large administrative raises over the last ten years as compared to faculty raises (some eye-popping figures)
• The question of why Miami spends so much on benefits when other institutions are spending less for similar benefits
• Trends in tenure-line staffing versus non-tenure-line staffing
• Gender and race trends in faculty employment and in salaries
If you had to miss it, download the Miami & Your Money 2016 slide presentation. You won’t have David’s contextualizing comments and questions, but the slide show is still very much worth reading.
We hope to see a large and well-informed turnout for the administration’s budget presentation on Monday, November 7, 2016 at 3:35 in Benton 102.