CSU works to better support adjunct faculty

Ellie Mulder

Although 44 percent of Colorado State University undergraduate credit hours are taught by non-tenure-track faculty, these faculty, such as adjuncts, often do not not receive necessary recognition and support, according to an email sent by President Tony Frank.

“Even as reliance on NTT faculty has grown, we have historically seen adjunct faculty across the country treated as an unrepresented underclass of university employees, a paradox that ought to be repugnant to all of us in higher education,” Frank wrote. “Like other universities, CSU for too long failed to adequately rise to this challenge. But today I’’m truly proud that we have begun to address the challenge in meaningful, fundamental ways.”

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As both a CSU professor of management and vice president of legislative affairs for the regional American Association of University Professors, Raymond Hogler said he believes the University’s progress toward improving adjunct faculty support is happening too slowly and with too few results.

“What’s been happening nationally is that as revenue shrinks for colleges, administrators are trying to find ways to fill in that gap, and one of the ways is cheaper labor,” Hogler said.

Holger said business writing adjunct Jenny Morse is very qualified, but she is teaching in a precarious position.

“From a student perspective, adjuncts are the people who usually teach the smallest classes that you all have, so you form pretty strong bonds with them,” Morse said. “But, they can disappear at any point.”

Morse also serves on the CSU committee for NTT faculty as a College of Business representative, and although she believes more can be done, she said CSU’s attitude toward adjuncts is moving in the right direction.

“Some things are changing for us, and the administration supports those changes,” Morse said. “By forming a committee, they’re saying, ‘We’re interested in what you have to say.'”

In his University-wide email, Frank mentioned nine ways CSU has increased support for NTT faculty, including that CSU has “more clearly provided a career path that rewards and recognizes their contributions,” “raised the salary floor for adjuncts” and “offered expanded mentoring and professional development opportunities for NTT faculty.”

Morse acknowledges the changes that have been made, but she said a lack of support for NTT faculty may influence their job performance.

“People who don’t have job security aren’t incentivized to do a really amazing, over-the-top job in their courses,” Morse said. “Even though most of us do this job because we love it, we’re always thinking about, ‘Well what is the compensatory aspect of this?'”

Wednesday was National Adjunct Walkout Day, a demonstration planned “to insist on fair wages and better working conditions,” according to its Facebook page.

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However, the University hosted a “walk-in” day instead, to celebrate the improved environment for adjuncts at CSU.

“Rather than walking out, though, we can demonstrate our value by showing our numbers, our relationships to our students and other faculty, and our commitment to our jobs and the CSU community,” stated Contingent Caucus, a Fort Collins-based blog that represents higher education and was linked to by Tony Frank.

The University wants to emphasize its support of increased adjunct recognition and support, according to Mike Hooker, CSU executive director of public affairs and communications.

“Today, as adjuncts are recognizing a walk-in … we definitely are shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” Hooker said. “This is a really important thing that we recognize and we’ve been working with them on, so today is just a day to acknowledge that work. … It’s an ongoing process to continue making this a better place.”

Collegian Reporter Ellie Mulder can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @lemarie.