Oct 252011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

The working conditions of contingent faculty members will be highlighted Wednesday and Thursday as part of Campus Equity Week. This university-wide event aims to bring attention to trends within academia that potentially threaten to limit the spectrum of opinions offered to students in CSU classrooms.

In academic life, the way individuals are treated depends largely on whether their position is classified as “tenure-track” or “special and temporary,” otherwise known as “contingent” or “adjunct.”

Compared to their tenure-track colleagues, contingent faculty typically receive half pay, substantially less office space, restricted access to university materials, usually cannot participate in discussions concerning any department changes and teach approximately one-half of all classes offered at the university. This means they have no time to conduct research, which is necessary in order to be competitive in applying to be a tenure-track professor.

But the biggest difference between the two positions is that, by Colorado state law, special and temporary faculty members only have their jobs for one year. After that, they must reapply to the university. In the meantime, officials can fire them –– or they can leave –– without reason.

“You’re free to go, and they’re free to let you go,” said Laura Thomas, an instructor in CSU’s English department.

This atmosphere, she said, can limit the perspectives a given lecturer can provide in class.

“The primary benefits of tenure is academic freedom,” Thomas said. “That is to say, faculty would not feel pressured by students or their peers or administration to present certain points of view.”

Steven Schulman, chair of CSU’s department of economics, put it a different way.

“It’s like feudalism,” he said. “We have the tenured faculty, they’re like the nobility. And we have the adjunct faculty. They’re much larger in number, and do a large amount of the work. They’re like the serfs.”

During Campus Equity Week, the College of Liberal Arts Adjunct Faculty Committee is facilitating workshops on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in Lory Student Center room 203, and Thursday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. in LSC room 203 and 3 p.m. in LSC room 211E. These workshops will specify contingent faculty issues at CSU.

One of these issues is the fact that the amount of tenure-track positions are staying the same while the amount of qualified people to fill them are increasing.

“In the mid-1970s, about 70 percent of faculty were on the tenure-track,” said Sue Doe, an English department assistant professor. “Now nationally, those numbers have just about reversed.”

Added Schulman: “They are almost invisible on the campus. We always talk about the faculty in terms of regular faculty, yet we have more than half of the courses being taught on campus by adjunct faculty.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Faculty make-up

Agricultural Sciences

98 Tenure-Track Faculty
22 Special and Temporary Faculty

Applied Human Sciences

109 Tenure-Track Faculty
115 Special and Temporary Faculty


59 Tenure-Track Faculty
40 Special and Temporary Faculty


101 Tenure-Track Faculty
12 Special and Temporary Faculty

Liberal Arts

226 Tenure-Track Faculty
221 Special and Temporary Faculty

Natural Sciences

169 Tenure-Track Faculty
40 Special and Temporary Faculty

Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

153 Tenure-Track Faculty
73 Special and Temporary Faculty

Warner College of Natural Resources

60 Tenure-Track Faculty
6 Special and Temporary Faculty

Total university tenured-track faculty: 1,000

Total university special and temporary faculty: 540

 Posted by at 4:13 pm

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