March 8, 1999
From: The Committee on Adjunct Affairs
1. Adjunct Usage at UNF
In the fall semester of 1998 UNF employed 260 adjunct faculty. The College of Arts and Sciences employed 136, The College of Business Administration 18, the College of Education and Human Services 54, the College of Health 29, and the College of Computer Sciences and Engineering 23.
In 1996/97 36% of the lower division FTE and 22% of the upper division FTE were taught by adjuncts. Adjunct usage at UNF has approximately doubled in the past dozen years, as has been the case in U.S. higher education generally. UNF does seem to use more adjuncts than comparable institutions. In the current U. S. News and World Report rankings of institutions, UNF has the fifth lowest percentage of full time faculty (70%) of the twenty-nine schools reporting in its tier (the second tier of southern regional schools).
The Committee recommends that UNF choose a list of national comparison universities which are public comprehensive institutions of roughly comparable size and of national distinction. Among the institutions which the Committee chose for such a list, the percentages of full time faculty are: UNC-Charlotte, 85%; Winthrop U, 82%; Clemson U, 99%; Miami U of Ohio, 88%; SUNY-Albany, 86%; U Cal-Irvine, 96%; and the College of William and Mary, 91%. This suggests that the administration's goal of 75% full time faculty is admirable but a station on the way to where we ought to be.
The general goals of the administration are to reduce the number of part-time faculty and to improve their quality ("Part-Time Faculty," UNF Academic Affairs, 6/98). The Committee agrees, and believes further that energetic support of the adjuncts we now employ is necessary to the health of the institution.
2. Earnings, Technical and Material Support, and Opportunities for Professional Development
Adjunct faculty at UNF are paid a range of $1,500-2,250 for teaching a three credit course. The salary is varied for courses which carry less or greater credit and for break-out sections, tutorials, and the like.
Marty Edwards, the first adjunct to be hired by UNF in 1972, was paid $1,500. Adjusted for inflation, that would now amount to $5,875. It may be fairly said that all UNF's adjuncts are poorly paid, though there is considerable variation in the rate.
Likewise, adjunct reports vary regarding support services provided them at UNF. Asked to identify specific kinds of support that were provided them by their department or college, or would be on request, almost every respondent (49 of 50) signified that duplicating services were available. This was the only form of support reported as virtually universal.
Low-tech support was reportedly more often available than high-tech. Most reported they had access to a telephone. About thirty-nine percent reported access to a computer. Fewer still reported access to e-mail. Only thirteen percent said they had access to their own web page, and very few--eight percent--access to voice mail.
Interestingly, the programs employing the majority of adjuncts in some cases report a higher level of technical support provided to adjuncts than do the adjuncts themselves: all seven programs reported that adjuncts had available telephones; five of the seven reported their adjuncts had access to computers.
According to the adjunct respondents, however, even essential support needs often go unmet. Only about forty percent of those responding were provided office space in which to prepare for classes or meet individually with students. Those who were provided office space in many cases reported that the space in question was shared, crowded, noisy, and insecure. Many--sixty-eight percent--signified that they were without any secure storage space for their materials.
These basic necessities--office space in which to do their work outside class, including meeting with their students; and secure storage space for their records, papers, and materials--were repeatedly identified as priorities when adjuncts were asked to rank order support services they wanted. More often by far than any other category of support, the provision of office space was ranked as the highest priority.
Opportunities for Development:
Adjuncts expressed their desire for professional as well as material support. They reported very limited opportunities for professional development for adjunct faculty at UNF. No orientation to the university is provided most adjuncts joining the faculty. Adjuncts in the writing program reported that new teachers had recently been provided orientation to the program, and all teachers received direction in writing program staff meetings. Little additional direction or opportunity was reliably provided, according to adjuncts' own reports.
Fifty-six percent of all respondents reported they had access to an experienced teaching mentor, though some noted they had sought out mentoring themselves rather than having mentors offered or provided by their departments. Several respondents identified mentoring as their first priority among needed support services. Thirty-one percent expressed a desire for additional direction. Only fifteen percent reported being offered any kind of formal teacher training.
Again with regard to professional development opportunities there is a disparity between adjunct perceptions (as indicated by survey respondents) and department reports. Six of the seven programs employing the greatest number of adjuncts report that they provide their adjuncts teacher training; six of the seven report that they provide their adjuncts with experienced teaching mentors. What does this disparity imply? It may be that the adjunct respondents and the departments are not in complete agreement as to what constitutes training; it may be that the adjuncts are not effectively apprised of available opportunities. It may be that mentoring, in particular, is available--when adjuncts themselves seek it--but is not routinely provided, and that adjuncts do not credit their departments for mentoring they seek out on their own.
In any case, the surveys suggest most adjuncts at UNF are less than satisfied
with their rate of pay, with the support provided them, and with the available
opportunities for professional growth. Some did make clear that they were
completely satisfied with the current order (perhaps excepting the rate
of pay), but many saw inadequate support--material, technical, and professional--as
evidence that their work is undervalued. Some noted that support was unreliable,
varying from one semester to the next, and some complained that their
access to various support services depended either on the kindness of
individual faculty members or on their own initiative: support was neither
routinely available nor theirs by right. Some made clear that their opportunity
to develop--as well as their morale, and their likelihood of continued
success--was undermined by the lack of respect for their expertise and
their efforts. Inclusion in the university community, recognition as colleagues
and professionals: this is a category of support for which they hunger.