The Adjunct Project

About This Project
Two-thirds of the faculty standing in front of college classrooms each day aren’t full-time or permanent professors. But getting information about the salaries of this army of adjuncts and about their campus working conditions has been difficult. This site, which is intended to pull together that information and make it publicly available, represents the evolution of a simple spreadsheet created in 2012 by Joshua Boldt, a composition instructor in Athens, Ga.

About the data:
The data come from adjuncts themselves. Often the hiring of part-time faculty members is done by individual academic departments. Even on the same campus, individual departments may pay and treat adjuncts very differently. We wanted to capture those differences and give adjuncts a place where they can share their own experiences.
Colleges are invited to contribute data as well. That information will be shown in addition to data that adjuncts have contributed.
Initial submissions came from anonymous contributions to a Google spreadsheet created by Joshua Boldt in 2012. Those submissions have been matched to specific departments. Where that wasn’t possible, those entries are identified as “not specified.”

Go here for more information. Thanks, Jackie!

7 thoughts on “The Adjunct Project

  1. I’ve actually submitted several posts about this issue to Feminist Philosophers, but, interestingly enough, none of them seem to have gotten published. My last one was about this link to a Chronicle of Higher Education article which contains information about a recently held Congressional hearing on the status of adjuncts in the academic workplace. I highly recommend reading it. http://chronicle.com/article/Adjuncts-Gain-Traction-With/144343/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

  2. We published a post linking to the above article after you sent it in, Denise. It’s here. (It was actually in a comment on that post that Jackie drew our attention to the Adjunct Project.) I’m sorry if we haven’t managed to pick up on all the other stories you’ve sent to us – we get a lot of stories submitted, and as no-one here is a full-time blogger, we don’t manage to post all of them. We have put up quite a few posts about adjuncts (US) and temporary staff (UK) on this site. Some of the other most recent posts on this issue can be found here, here, and here. There are older posts too that can be found through searching the archives.

  3. I see that you posted the link embedded in a different person’s comment, but chose not to publish my comment–which was more than a simple link to the article.

    I suspect my comment was censored because I pointed out that when I tried to raise this very important issue two years ago, it was shouted down on this forum as unimportant–that there were few contingent faculty that your readers were aware of and they were certain they were all very happy with their positions. It decidedly was not unimportant and they certainly were not content, as the groundswell of protests that have emerged over the past two years has shown.

    It takes a certain kind of courage and humility to say “Yep, we had no idea back then that such inequities existed, and we did just blow off any attempt to raise what seemed to be a tangential and unimportant issue. But now we are glad that folks like you tried to bring them to our attention and continue to do so. We are solidly behind you on this.”

  4. Denise – we don’t post the comments that people send in with their stories – we write a blog post about the story. There was no censorship involved. I also went through the archives to find the ‘shouting down’ that you referred to, and to be frank, no such thing happened. The moderators had to step in at some point to calm down a heated discussion, but not one of the bloggers, at any point, suggested the situation of adjuncts was somehow unimportant or undeserving of attention or that contingent faculty were all perfectly happy.

    Your assumption that somehow people running this blog were then unaware of the inequities existing in the system is completely false. Many of the bloggers who have been part of the crew here through the years the blog has been going have been employed in pretty precarious positions – either as adjuncts or temporary staff of various sorts in the UK and know full well how difficult such positions can be. In addition, many of those bloggers who enjoy permanent full-time employment have been for a long time now involved in various initiatives to try and improve the lives of temporary staff, some of which I am intending to post on when I have a spare minute.

  5. Well, this is getting a bit silly. I’m not sure if you are the same person who was moderating the forum two years ago, but that person deleted some of the comments that were posted in response to my query about how adjuncts were treated in one’s home institution and sent me a personal apology because she felt she and the other commenters had been too harsh in insisting that there just wasn’t a problem.

    The majority who posted comments said things like “We’re all just one big family”, or “We have adjuncts. They’re fine. They’re happy.”, or “We have bigger fish to fry, like getting more women promoted to full professor, or getting more women into Philosophy to begin with.” You see now that was not the case–it was indeed a very serious issue that was being steadfastly trivialized and ignored. And hopefully you can see that comments like that were dismissive (as well as ignorant) of a very important issue that was simmering under the surface.

    The anger and discontent of this new faculty majority has now erupted with great force, and tenure stream faculty are rapidly dividing into two camps–those who say “we were always sympathetic to your cause!” and those who continue to say “it isn’t a big issue; we treat adjuncts as though they really were faculty.”

    Now you seem to be going one step further and saying that none of that happened, that this forum has always been open, accepting, and friendly toward people who tried to raise this topic, and that someone who was indeed slapped down for trying to raise the issue “before its time” is simply imagining the whole affair. You know, the old “women get hysterical and make things up. You can’t really take them seriously.” That is not only disrespectful, it is simply not the case. Re-writing history through the lens of defensiveness isn’t going to get us anywhere. There is work to be done. The question is whether the tenure stream in this forum is going to do anything about what has become a 1% v 99% matter of social and professional inequity in academia or whether they are going to retreat into a defensive posture and claim it is they who are being falsely accused and victimized.

  6. Denise – I wasn’t involved in moderating your earlier posts – there are a team of moderators here, and people pitch in when they’ve got some time, so I can only comment on what is in the archives and what you’re telling me.

    I think we may be speaking at cross-purposes here. I wasn’t intending to suggest that none of the people engaging with the blog as *commenters* had the attitude you described. What I was trying to convey to you was that the *bloggers* here (the people who write the posts and attempt to moderate discussion) did (and do) not.

    The interaction you are describing kind of speaks to my point. The fact that one of the bloggers wrote to you and apologized because they felt that some of the commenters had treated you harshly shows that the people running the blog – at the time – accepted that there was a problem, and were not of the view that everyone working as an adjunct is happy, or tried to dismiss your concerns as trivial.

    We (the bloggers) are not responsible for the views of the commenters here, in the sense that we can’t control what they think. We do have control over what they post in comments, and we do our best to make sure that discussion remains civil, people don’t assume bad intentions on the parts of others, and where really egregious views are expressed, we remove them.

    (Please bear in mind, on this score, that we’re doing this whilst having all the usual real world pressures of family commitments, work stuff, and so on. Sometimes we end up simply having to shut down discussions because things are getting heated and no-one here has time to moderate. Often, someone or other will disagree with our decisions, but we’re doing the best we can with limited time, so people will just have to live with it.)

    I’m again going to point out to you that you’re assuming that everyone blogging here is ‘tenure track’ or – the UK equivalent ‘permanent’ – and this simply isn’t true. From the start (and I was part of the group who set this blog up, so I do know that this is the case), the blog has drawn its writers from a cross-section of academia both in terms of academic hierarchy, and in geographical composition.

    I’ll also add that you’re basically accusing us (or me at any rate) of bad faith when I tell you that people here have been, and in some cases, still are adjuncts/in temporary employment, and those who are permanent folks have been involved in trying to help staff in more precarious employment. To me, that seems pretty disrespectful, and if you want to keep engaging here, please drop the accusatory tone.

  7. [EDITED ACCORDING TO MODERATION POLICY]

    Your posts about adjuncts seem to assume that all adjuncts are part-time people who move around from institution to institution trying to cobble together a living by collecting a few hundred dollars per course taught. There are indeed many who are like that. But that is not who many adjuncts are.

    During the economic downturns of 2000 and 2008, administrators met budget challenges by offering “golden parachutes” to tenure stream faculty to encourage these high-salaried employees to retire, and by freezing tenure-stream hiring lines. To meet teaching demands, they hired PhDs with excellent qualifications on “contingent” contracts. These contracts are full-time, include benefits, and often pay decent salaries. But they are dead-end. There is no track for advancement, and no opportunity to convert (or compete for) tenure stream positions.

    These kinds of adjuncts are permanent full-time employees in the way such people are in the world outside the ivory tower in the States. In other words, they are full-time employees who know they can be fired. Meanwhile, their “temporary” status means that they are excluded from important scholarly and teaching resources (such as intramural funding, competitive teaching awards, teaching reductions in exchange for scholarly productivity or for developing new courses, and so on). There are thousands of adjuncts like that, and they hold these positions for decades.

    These are the quality scholars, scientists, and teachers who work in isolation from the “real faculty” beneath a glowering glass ceiling and who are routinely subjected to the proverbial “thousand paper cuts” of snubs, condescension, exclusion, and insults on a daily basis by their tenure stream brethren.

    The real problem is that no one wants to face–the 800 lb gorilla–is tenure. Its original purpose was to protect academic freedom, but there are faculty unions and laws in place that now do that anyway. Instead, tenure creates a small but bloated aristocracy who end up looking down on those outside the tenure track (even if they are equally accomplished in their fields) and shoring up their priority of access to competitive scholarly resources. They cannot be fired even when curricular demand changes, if they no longer are productive as scholars, or if their teaching is significantly sub-par. They also are not required to engage in continuing education (such as physicians are) in order to ensure that they are not still teaching the same 2-3 courses the same way using the same materials as they did 20 years ago–even if those materials and their understanding of their fields are hopeless outdated.

    These faculty treat adjuncts as though they aren’t really there, and are now clamoring to force administrators to approve more tenure stream lines–they want more of “their own kind” as they’ve watched their numbers shrink from over 70% of American faculty to fewer than 30%. But they do not want those lines offered to colleagues who currently occupy adjunct positions in large part because they assume that these colleagues couldn’t possibly be very good if they were willing to work without tenure for all those years. Instead, they want these “temporary” positions eliminated and the people holding them simply fired in order to make room for “quality” peers.

    These are not exaggerations or hysterical ravings. They are sober and accurate descriptions of what has been going on in the States over the past two decades. I would be happy to share my personal story to anyone who is interested–not a gripe fest or a “poor me the victim” story, but a sober and starkly realistic story of what it means to voluntarily leave the tenure stream for a contingent position.

    In the meantime, I have retired but feel an obligation to speak in support of my fellow adjuncts. The academy is going through a very significant change in the States in order to accommodate 21st century economic and academic realities, but tenure stream faculty simply want to turn the clock back to the way things were before. Adjuncts believe that if they can just land a tenure stream position, everything will be just fine for them. Neither type of faculty member seems to truly appreciate the enormity of what is happening–by necessity–to the outdated hierarchical structure of the American academy.

    Please feel free to take a look at my own credentials at http://www.denisecummins.com.

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