During the past four decades, the proportion of contingent faculty teaching on college and university campuses has risen dramatically. Once comprising just a quarter of the instructional workforce, contingent faculty now make up nearly 75 percent. National faculty and staff organizations such as the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the American Association of University Professors have all voiced concern over this trend and promoted equitable compensation and better working conditions for contingent faculty.
The AFT has been particularly active in this area, releasing a variety of research studies as well as policy statements and initiating an expansive political/bargaining/public education program around staffing issues called Faculty and College Excellence (FACE). In particular, AFT released formal Standards of Good Practice for the Employment of Part-Time/Adjunct Faculty, which documents the inadequate compensation, benefits and professional support accorded to contingent faculty and delineates best practices in compensation, terms of employment, and professional support and internal union organization.
In recent years, the regional accrediting agencies have recognized that academic staffing is a key element of educational quality. They all have included language in their guidelines concerning contingent faculty and, in some cases, graduate employees. However, many observers believe that the agencies have sat by idly as the overuse and exploitation of contingent faculty and graduate employees has become a critical problem in higher education. These observers—AFT among them—have advocated for more explicit, tightened guidelines—and institutional administration of these guidelines—with regard to contingent faculty’s working conditions and compensation.
Guided by our standards for the employment of part-time/adjunct faculty, we have examined and summarized the standards held by the six regional accrediting agencies. In the top navigation menu, there are links to these summaries, which cover appropriate levels of full-time, tenure-track faculty and the working conditions and professional support for contingent faculty and graduate employees. You can also access these pages by clicking on the links below.
We intend to keep building these resources here on accreditation—your input is important to us. We want your feedback on:
- How effective you think these standards are, and
- What your experience is with how well your institution has implemented these standards.
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