Home | IL Academe | About IL AAUP | Conference Corner | Calendar | Services | Committees | Contact Us | Grants | Reports | Links


AAUP Report on the Inclusion of Contingent Faculty in Governance

Dear AAUP Member:

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

At the same time, the structures of faculty governance often assume a full-time, tenure-track faculty, and the inclusion of the non-tenure-track majority is spotty.

This state of affairs is problematic. The exclusion of so many faculty members from governance activities erodes faculty professionalism, the integrity of the academic profession, and the faculty’s ability to serve the common good. It undermines equity among academic colleagues. And, perhaps most important, it undercuts the ability of the faculty to carry out its governance responsibilities. What are the prospects for shared governance if a smaller and smaller proportion of the faculty must represent and shoulder the governance workload for the whole? Will institutional decision making become the sole purview of administrators? Of course, the best solution to this problem is to bring almost all faculty under the umbrella of tenure (http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/newsroom/prarchives/2010/teachingintensive.htm). In the meantime, the expectation of participation in governance must be expanded beyond tenured and tenure-track faculty as it has been expanded in the past: a century ago senior faculty members generally were the sole participants in university governance.

A report just out (http://www.aaup.org/report/governance-inclusion) from the AAUP examines these issues and makes recommendations for the inclusion of faculty holding contingent appointments in campus governance structures. (A draft of this report was issued in June and comments on it were invited; the report was revised in response to comments received and has been formally adopted by the AAUP Council.

Please see the recommendations summarized below, read the whole report, and start making a plan to advance faculty rights on your campus. At the national level, the AAUP’s member-leaders and staff can do the research, consider the issues, and formulate and disseminate recommended policies. But only you can effect change on your own campus, whether through a unionized chapter, a nonunion advocacy chapter, or another faculty organization.

Your questions and comments are welcome and should be sent to gbradley@aaup.org.

Recommendations of The Inclusion in Governance of Faculty Members Holding Contingent Appointments include the following:

  • Institutional policies should define as “faculty” and include in governance bodies at all levels individuals whose appointments consist primarily of teaching or research activities conducted at a professional level.
  • Eligibility for voting and holding office in institutional governance bodies should be the same for all faculty, regardless of full- or part-time status.
  • Ideally there should be no minimum or maximum number of seats reserved for contingent faculty in institutional governance bodies where representation of contingent faculty is appropriate.
  • All members of the faculty, assuming that they meet any time-in-service requirements, should be eligible to vote in all elections for institutional governance bodies on the basis of one person, one vote.
  • While faculty on contingent appointments may be restricted from participating in the evaluation of tenured and tenure-track faculty, they should have the opportunity to contribute to the evaluation of other contingent faculty.
  • All faculty members, regardless of their status or appointment type, should be explicitly protected by institutional policies from retaliation.
  • All faculty members should be able to vote or abstain freely, without compulsion and without the necessity of defending their decision to vote or to abstain.
  • Faculty holding contingent appointments should be compensated in a way that takes into consideration the full range of their appointment responsibilities, which should include service.
  • Where service is explicitly a component of the appointment, participation in service should be included as part of the evaluation of a faculty member on a contingent appointment.