COCAL Updates

by Joe Berry
joeberry@iCOCAL logo

COCAL is the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a nearly 20-year-old network of contingent activists and their organizations that does a conference (now tri national – USA, CAN, MEX) every other year, usually in August. It also sponsors a listserv, called ADJ-L, and has an International Advisory Committee and a website and Facebook page.


1. About the struggle at CCSF indirectly, by one of our colleagues
A very good interview about urban schools, racism and PTSD with an Oakland, CA teacher interviewed by one of our colleagues at City College of SF.


1. Puerto Rican parents, students and teacher fighting to defend closed schools.

2. The big picture: adjunct and contingent faculty (Canada) You-tube video, 5 minutes, from a Canadian expert.

3. Philippine students strike over higher ed budget cuts.

4. Chilean student protesters demand more radical reforms.


1. An informed reply to item on last Updates from the Washington Monthly on adjuncts. A useful caution as to sources. Reminds me of the Cold War days when the CIA sponsored liberal journals, writers, artists etc. and planted articles overseas. Maybe this is really the same thing, only “privatized.” If more discussion on this, send to my email below or take it onto ADJ-L discussion listserv.

The money shot from the article is the hawking of western governors university (Utah) , an online diploma mill.
and I don’t expect that you have forgotten that WM is Lumina funded, to the tune of about 3 million the past five years. This is “bought” journalism that uses the “adjunct” issue as a weak cover.

The Washington Monthly is funded by Lumina, to the tune of about 3 million in the past few years.

The money shot in this article, unwisely circulated by Joe in his updates, in my view, was the pitch for colleges “like” Western Governors University,a non-for profit–but almost totally online diploma mill.

Again Washington Monthly journalism, though previously a “progressive” publication, is now almost totally owned by Lumina and the Lumina agenda is driving the journalism.

The poor adjunct framing is, in my view, cover for the real message: HE can be done on the cheap if institutions moved from “poorly paid adjuncts” to online delivery.

2. Lee Kottner’s maybe-final answer to Magnuss, Jason Brennan, et al.

3. Grad union (GAU/AAUP) to rally at U of RI.

4. Chicago area conference for composition adjuncts at College of DuPage. Writing on the Edge. 9/19/2015.

5. Adjuncts have fewer options than grad students (from U of MO, Columbia).

6. U of Akron video protesting financial policies.

7. Universities and ethics (or not).

8. State U faculty in MN get raises in new contract and adjuncts get an extra percent.

9. A fairy tale of the sage, the scholar and the administrator.

10. A very good interview about urban schools, racism and PTSD with an Oakland, CA teacher interviewed by one of our colleagues at City College of SF.

11. A very well-though-out proposal to reform higher ed, by a U of Chicago grad student. Treat the badmin like bankers.

12. Toward a pedagogy of equality, put on by For a University Worth Fighting For at CUNY, a conference, series of workshops, lifestream, etc.

13. Grads rally at U of MO (Columbia) sparks faculty support.

14. Another order by NLRB to finally count the vote in the Manhattan College (private Catholic) adjunct election from 2011!!?? [May the religious exemption” from NLRA finally be disposed of once and for all.]

15. SF Bay Area Troublemakers school (Labor Notes sponsored). October 17, Sat, Berkeley City College [very much recommended!]

16. First quickie election under new NLRB rules results in union for PA nurses.

17. Adjuncts and Professional Devopment (Quotes Maria Maisto of NFM and Gary Rhoades).

18. Longer hours, more stress, no extra pay, it’s not just Amazon it’s the modern workplace.

19. The real reason behind the US teacher shortage.

20. This letter from the White House, in the name of a small business person in New Orleans, is an outrage. Painting what has happened to the schools and to many of the mostly poor Black working class residents (many of which never got back) and their children as a success for kids is lying of the worst sort. See reports ranging from the New Orleans Teachers Union (UTNO/AFT) to the TV series “Treme” and elsewhere for evidence. I hope progressive forces in NO and the national AFT responds to this.

In 2005, my husband Norm and I owned a sign-printing shop in New Orleans, right next to the Superdome. We were getting ready to celebrate our 15th year in business.

And then Katrina came.

As was the fate for much of New Orleans, the hurricane flooded our shop and forced us to move to Lake Charles, Louisiana. (Until Hurricane Rita hit a few weeks later, forcing us to move yet again.) Once the waters receded, Norm and I had to decide whether to abandon our business, or to go back and rebuild it.

We decided to rebuild. Just like our city did.

This afternoon, I’ll be introducing President Obama as he visits New Orleans to meet with residents like me who have rebuilt their lives since Katrina, and to talk about what’s changed in the city and what still needs work. Tune in here.

Over the past decade, we’ve learned our lessons from Hurricane Katrina, and we’ve made some pretty big improvements. For one, Louisiana has worked hard to be better prepared for future storms and extreme weather events — upgrading our levees and pump stations, as well as elevating homes and retrofitting our buildings.

But our efforts aren’t limited to making sure we’re ready when the next storm comes.

We’ve also worked to improve our schools, for our kids. New Orleans’ high school graduation rate before Katrina was only 54 percent; now, it’s 73 percent. College enrollment has almost doubled over that time period, giving our children a better chance at a future.

And residents like me who stuck with our home through the hardest possible time are expanding job opportunities for our neighbors — by creating jobs to rebuild New Orleans’ transportation systems, and expanding job-training programs in industries like high-tech manufacturing.

There’s still a lot of work left to be done, but we’re getting there. Our growth so far is a great example of what can happen when everyday Americans, community leaders, government agencies, and business leaders work together to make a difference.

I’m proud of my city. I’m proud to have rebuilt and to be celebrating 25 years of business this year. I’m proud of how far we’ve come in the last 10 years, and I can’t wait to see how much more we’ll grow.

Make sure to watch the President’s remarks this afternoon at 4:55 p.m. Eastern. And if you have your own story of how your community stuck together, or you know someone who does, share it here.



Michelle Gobert
New Orleans, Louisiana

21. Berkshire CC (MA) adjuncts get office space (negotiated through the union??)

22. Controversy at Rutgers over head football coach remaining an adjunct over a student’s status in class. [Article fails to mention a key aspects, namely that not only is their respective pay radically different , but even more important, that their security of employment is also radically different.

23. Major decision from NLRB on responsibility of main employer for actions of contractors could make subcontracting and outsourcing (and privatization) much less attractive for employers. A real win for ease of unionization too.

24. Great satirical video from U of Iowa [my alma mater and former employer as well], which includes instant tenure for all contingent academics!

25. More on Manhattan College (NYC) NLRB decision to count votes.

26. Debt is death at WalSmart University (Robert Craig Baum).

27. Worth a look, video Capitalism is just a story.

28. The awful revolution: is neoliberalism a public health risk?

NOTE: As noted previously, your COCAL UPDATES editor (Joe Berry) and his spouse/partner/colleague Helena Worthen, are teaching labor studies in Viet Nam for the fall 2015 Semester.  Unions in Viet Nam are grappling with how to deal with the influx of foreign (capitalist) direct investment there and the need to build local unions that can effectively fight for workers in this new context.



Activism: Trolling EDUStaff, LLC, an Education Temp Agency

If you thought you felt like a temp before, EDUStaff is here to make sure you never forget that’s exactly what you are. Originally offering “pre-screened and quality substitute and permanent candidates in all classifications to K-12 pubic and charter schools, EDUStaff is now screening higher education professors for a number of community colleges. Allegedly, “Colleges across the state are excited about the differences, opportunities, and cost savings that EDUStaff offers!”

But not everyone. The inimitable Herr Doktor Professor Robert Craig Baum, former Dean of Lebanon College, chats with the new education temp agency bots.

Preface: With all the DYI and third party sites, I thought it would be fun to troll the latest outsourcing nightmare, EDUStaff Group. Something tells me their Customer Service Bot Kelee won’t be replying anytime soon. –rcb


RCBTrolling4RCBTrolling5RCBTrolling6RCBTrolling7*Click* *Crickets*

COCAL Updates

by Joe Berry
joeberry@iCOCAL logo

COCAL is the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a nearly 20-year-old network of contingent activists and their organizations that does a conference (now tri national – USA, CAN, MEX) every other year, usually in August. It also sponsors a listserv, called ADJ-L, and has an International Advisory Committee and a website and Facebook page.


Thanks to everyone (to many to answer) who sent me birthday (67th) greetings August 24. I had a great day, which included a surprise by my students in class and a surprise party, with presents, from my new colleagues here. (engineered partly by Helena I am sure). We are both well, very busy and learning as fast as we can. To follow our adventures, see Helena’s blog at <>. Thanks again. Joe Berry, Editor, COCAL UPDATES


1. Workers Rights Board hearing on higher ed in SF.

2. A wonderful summary of why part-timers (and all contingents) need to join the struggle and how we might best do that by clearly pointing out in detail what all we do and mostly for “free”. See below for full text. By our PT colleague Danny Halford in AFT 2121 at CCSF.

Dear Union Members and All Colleagues,

At the part-timer’s union meeting on Flex Day, we discussed in small groups how to get student support in our struggle for a fair contract. Then a spokesperson from each group went to the mike to report back from their groups. Several colleagues said: When the students ask how much we earn, and we say $50 an hour, they’ll say: but I’m lucky if I can get $15. You’re rich! What’s the problem? (This is a paraphrase, of course, so no quotation marks).

Nobody really answered that, and it’s been bothering me ever since. So I’m doing it now.
First, this is not the kind of conversation we want to have with our students – but it may be inevitable, because most of them get paid by the hour, so that’s how they calculate income. So it’s natural for them to ask this question. It may be unavoidable.

So how do we deal with it? We need to explain that most of our students get paid for every hour they work; we don’t. Then we can list some of the many, many things that we do as teachers that are unpaid, or at least, not directly paid. Many of these tasks are officially required; others are not required but expected. Others are technically not part of our jobs, but in the current accreditation / enrollment crisis they are de facto absolutely necessary to maintain our beloved college as we know and love it, with its mission (including lifelong learning!), programs and campuses intact.

I’ve brainstormed a list. I invite you to add to it, and let me know what I’ve forgotten. I also invite you, in the coming week, to keep a record of how many unpaid hours each day you spend working for City College. Then add those hours to your paid hours, and divide the total by the pay you earned this week. Here goes:

Prep time – direct (e.g. for the 2.5 hour, L. 4-8 ESL class I’ve been teaching without a textbook since Aug. 2013, I often spend up to 4 hours preparing. )

Prep time – indirect, e.g. organizing materials, making xerox copies, setting up the classroom or lab, writing on the board before class, choosing new materials for next semester, etc.

Writing / revising course outlines

Individual student support before or after class: face to face or per email; writing references

Professional development, e.g. in ESL this includes the ESL Colloquium in Feb. or March, and Catesol (I don’t mean Flex Day because we get paid for that.) Tech training for all the new procedures.

Assessment of all kinds – which is now more than ever because of new requirements from Sacramento or ACCJC, e.g. student progress reports in noncredit ESL and all that SLO reporting

Committee work! In addition to monthly meetings, many committees involve hours of “homework” each month

Meetings: campus meetings, dept. meetings, student council meetings, etc.

Academic Senate work!

Our union precinct reps!

Political lobbying, marching and rallying – in this present crisis, all are crucial. (Pardon my stating the obvious.)

Other examples way too numerous to mention, but just one memorable example: the Civic Center Campus teachers cleaning and dusting their campus library during winter break – for nothing!

And last but most certainly not least: ENROLLMENT OUTREACH! (Ask me how many hours I’ve spent on that this week.)

I apologize if I haven’t list a task you spend many hours on!

My (Mexican) roommate earns $15 an hour, but his only unpaid task is washing his uniform once or twice a month. I maintain that with all my tasks at City College factored in, I am not getting paid more per hour than my roommate.

Thanks for reading and thinking about this,
Danny Halford, ESL Instructor
Co-Coordinator, CCSF Volunteer Enrollment Campaign
Member, Lobbying Committee of the Fight Back to Save CCSF Coalition
Member and Former Chair, ESL Noncredit Curriculum Committee
And of course proud member of AFT2121

Check out the Save CCSF Webpage here:


1. Back to school with work to rule in Ontario, Canada.

2. Adjunct teachers need recognition (from Vancouver, BC, Straits Times)


1. Another adjunct, a philosopher, talks about why he left and what he is doing now.

2. Interview subjects wanted for documentary
FYI – Bri Bolin interested in interviewing adjunct faculty – see below

“To improve the lives and livelihoods of contingent faculty undergoing financial hardship by providing charitable assistance to them in the form of cash assistance and/or grants;
To create and distribute educational media to the public, including parents, students, and college communities, that details how colleges function in the post-recession U.S. economy;
To create and design a searchable archive for contingent faculty issues in the news;
To conduct research on contingent faculty and their role in the economy of U.S. colleges to encourage a broader public understanding of how colleges budget their financial resources as well as what effects these budgetary practices have on faculty populations, student populations, and the general value of higher education.”

If any adjuncts out there are currently on public assistance and willing to be interviewed for a documentary on poverty (producers are willing to block faces or withhold names), please contact Thank you!

3. U of MO, Columbia, grads threaten strike over health care subsidy cuts and they WIN.

4. More notices on the death of John Hess and from Hank Reichman, national officer of AAUP.

5. Request for survey respondents for PhD research on teacher and professor job satisfaction and career cycles.

6. Using sex appeal and video games to fill classes (SUNY Binghamton) [Adjuncts trying to survive. Where is the union in this?]

7. This notice about the death of Black Freedom Movement leader Julian Bond, who also was often a contingent faculty member in the DC area and elsewhere.

Since the passing of the civil rights leader Julian Bond, news has (re)surfaced of his 20-page comic book “Vietnam,” that was against the Vietnam War.
He wrote the text after he was kicked out of the Georgia state legislature for opposing the war. T.G. Lewis did the drawings.
Thanks to the Sixties Project for making it publicly accessible.

See the images here.

See article about it.

8. An important comment on race and racism for the Sanders campaign and for white progressives, by our colleague Bill Fletcher.

9. Death of my career: What happened to New Orleans veteran Black (mostly female) teachers.

10. Leslie Beggs: Modesto (CA) Junior College exploits underpaid adjunct professors.

11. SeaTac (WA) workers successfully defend $15 minimum wage.

12. Job Opening: Organizer, Teamsters for a Democratic Union

Teamsters for a Democratic Union is seeking an seeking an energetic, committed person to work full-time on organizing, education, and communication projects out of its New York or Detroit office. Women and people of color strongly encouraged to apply; Spanish fluency a plus. The job offers health insurance, generous vacation, and a salary up to $38,500 depending on experience. Send your resume and cover letter to TDU, P.O. Box 10128, Detroit, MI 48210, or

13. Like AFT, IAM (Machinists) members upset over Clinton endorsement.

14. Uber’s attempt to silence drivers backfires (all are contingent “contractors”).

15. Job opening, UC Berkeley Labor Center, research data analyst

16. VERY important new AAUP report of a Vanderbilt study: the proportion of African-Americans in NTT positions is more than twice that of whites.

17. 2% raise at TN St U to exclude adjuncts, all temporary staff and grads.

18. U of VT part-timers settle tentative agreement, with improvements (United Academics/AFT).

19. Ageism: a reality for teachers today despite shortages (Diane Ravitch blog).

20. A historian (adjunct and contingent) tried to discount the majority “adjunct” discourse and devalue our movement as such (and in so doing disrespects our colleagues in community colleges and forced to work in the for-profits). See the comments section on this too. And a reply and an addendum to the reply.

21. Catholic Church and Fight for 15.

22. Duquesne U (Pittsburgh, PA) sets $15 minimum for campus workers (but no mention of adjunct teachers).

23. Great visual joke on PA governor closing teacher lounges

Beth Emma Goldman shared Adjun’ct N’oise’s photo.
1 hr
Adjun'ct N'oise's photo.

24. See this map of most common job held by immigrants by state. In 4 states the most common job is college teacher (!) [Not sure of sources on this. Anyone with more details or information on this item, please email me.]

25. In SF Bay Area Adjunct Action is doing a panel of adjunct authors at the November Howard Zinn Book Fair, moderated by our extremely creative colleague/organizer, Jessica Lawless.

26. Sign petition to Temple U admin to let Temple adjuncts vote on unionization.

27. London Labour Film Festival solicits entries

We’re looking for short films about working people.
View this email in your browser
The third London Labour Film Festival will screen a selection of labour-related shorts throughout the film festival which takes place next month.

These short films will be screened between the feature length films.

We would like to invite you to be part of this.

We are asking people to submit short films to the festival.

The films and videos submitted can be made in the UK or anywhere in the world.

The films will be labour-related, they can be about any and every aspect of work, as well as those issues affecting unionised workers and those not represented by unions.

The selected (winners) will be chosen by a global panel of judges and shown as part of the festival.

The shorts selection competition is open to anybody. The purpose of the contest is to discover the hard work of filmmakers whose voices have yet to be heard.

The winners selected to be screened will be determined by a global panel of judges.

Deadline for entries: 8th September 2015

Click here for full details and an entry form.
Thanks — and please spread the word!
Eric Lee
Copyright © 2015 LabourStart, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Suite 504, 394 Muswell Hill Broadway
London, England N10 1DJ
United Kingdom

28. Robert Reich on the upsurge in uncertain work.

29. Good long article in Washington Monthly, Stop chiseling the adjuncts.

30. How Brother Bernie is making Labor’s Day.

31. Here is an example of how a democratic union leader engages in discussion about the election with membership [Postal Workers national president].

32. Beth Emma Goldman

August 24 at 1:11pm

here’s a new title I have never seen in academia! – “Full-Time Temporary
Associate Dean of Adjunct Faculty” –
Temporary Associate Dean Of Adjunct Faculty Job in Huntingdon 16652, Pennsylvania US
Temporary Associate Dean Of Adjunct Faculty job in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, US. Read the Temporary …

33. Blog about us on American Psych Assoc site.

NOTE: As noted previously, your COCAL UPDATES editor (Joe Berry) and his spouse/partner/colleague Helena Worthen, are going to teach labor studies in Viet Nam for the fall 2015 Semester.  Unions in Viet Nam are grappling with how to deal with the influx of foreign (capitalist) direct investment there and the need to build local unions that can effectively fight for workers in this new context.

The Special Burden for Contingent Music Faculty

By Jane Harty

The special burden

teaching musicMusic faculty form a large group of contingent faculty in higher education. Most liberal arts colleges and universities have music departments that employ specialists to teach applied instrumental music and voice. In general, an oboist cannot teach viola; a tenor cannot teach piano. However, these specialists are often employed to also teach courses in music history, theory, pedagogy, large and small ensembles, and introductory courses in music. In addition, music faculty, whether contingent or tenure-line, must keep up their “non-print” versions of research and publishing: giving concerts, making recordings, teaching master classes, learning new repertoire, writing new music and pedagogical materials, adjudicating young performers and emerging artists, and more.

The special burden that contingent music faculty face in the ongoing struggle for “equal pay for equal work” is the universal practice of paying hourly fees for applied music, taught as private lessons. This is the international standard for teaching instruments and voice—that is, one-on-one. The reasons for that are numerous, but chief among them is that it is a very complicated and long-term process to become a performer in music. It includes the integration of detailed physical abilities (technique) with intellectual training (reading and understanding musical form), emotional development (expressiveness and drive), and psychological preparation (performing under pressure). The integration of all of these components cannot be taught in a large lecture-room setting, nor can it be taught well online.

The hourly fees paid for this kind of instruction do not include preparation time. If a music professor teaches 10-20 lessons per week, that means choosing and preparing repertoire and technical studies for each lesson at the right level for each student. The curriculum is individually tailored and under constant revision. The hourly fees do not include communications with students, emails and phone calls to manage a myriad of issues including scheduling, finding music, recital programs, and general advising. The hourly fees do not include “extra hours” which are required for students’ training, like master classes, juries, dress rehearsals and recitals.   The list goes on and on for those faculty who are serious about training the students who study with them. Paying only for the lesson time itself (usually 30-60 minutes a week) is paying for only a small part of what is required to teach this discipline. The actual pay is closer to just above minimum wage.

teaching-guitarUniversities can justify this low rate of pay because of the one-on-one teaching. But then, how can they justify paying tenure-track faculty so much more for teaching the same kinds of lessons? “Equal pay for equal work” is not honored, especially for music faculty. Universities can also add private-lesson fees to help pay faculty—and indeed they have in many cases—but the pay still remains grossly inconsistent between tenure-line and contingent faculty. If faculty have the same training and experience as their tenure-track colleagues, as many contingent faculty do, they should be paid the same for applied lessons. The idea that higher ed appointments are based on a meritocracy has long since been given up. Even tenure-line faculty say that they have “won the lottery” if they manage to get a tenure-track position.[i]

In addition to this special burden for music faculty, we also share the heavy burdens of other contingent faculty: low pay for courses; denial of benefits by limiting our credits; removal of courses from our contracts without consultation; no role or vote in faculty governance; unequal sharing of resources like office space; no job security; and lack of respect within our units. These burdens make one wonder why young academics would continue to want to teach in higher education, and indeed, threaten the future of our profession.

Instructional budgets for Music (as well as other departments) should ensure equitable pay for all faculty for the instruction and service that they provide. That is not to say that contingent faculty should be paid the same annual salaries as tenure-line faculty, but that they should be paid the same for the responsibilities that they share in common, like coursework, private lessons, and faculty ensembles. This means that tenure-line salaries have to be broken down and transparent, even though that may be a complicated process to separate and give a dollar value to the various elements of the posts for which faculty were hired. The alternative is to continue to fuel the long-term resentment of the large majority of faculty who have not received equal pay for equal work.

Arts education in America

Budget cuts in arts education are part of a wider trend in America to see education primarily as vocational training. Even liberal arts colleges are often judged by how much money their graduates earn, rather than how much they learned. This is an example of “corporatism”—that institutions of higher education exist to serve corporations by training students primarily for corporate life, and those institutions are in turn subject to the destructive effects of corporatization.[ii]

In one particularly egregious example of unfair treatment, George Washington University (GW) in Washington DC announced small cuts this spring of about 5% to most of its divisions, but its Music Department saw drastic cuts, up to 50% by some estimates. The cuts included reducing the number of choirs and wind ensembles, cancelling several popular music survey courses, reducing the number of chamber ensembles, and restricting private instrument study to music majors and minors only. At least four long-term music adjuncts, who had taught at GW for over 25 years, were laid off entirely, and private instructors saw their instruction time reduced to 5 hours a week or less. [iii]

In some sense, what happened at GW and what is happening to music faculty in America in general is symptomatic of the decline in funding and support for arts education, and indeed, the shift in our culture away from studying and honoring the great intellectual achievements in human history. Music faculty may be “the canary in the coal mine”—among the first to be down-sized in an educational system that does not value education in the arts. Are we in danger of raising a generation of young tech or business workers who are ready for employment upon graduation, but have nothing close to a liberal arts education, and did not have a chance to develop critical thinking or creative imagination skills? Students well-trained in the arts are simply better employees—they have learned to think “outside the box,” they have learned a rigorous self-discipline, they have learned how to collaborate in a group working towards a common goal, and they have learned how to solve short-term problems, at the same time understanding the patience needed to reach long-term goals. Why would corporate culture not want this kind of employee?

arts-education-wordleThe history of music can be seen as a long line of efforts by individual composers in every time and every place to give form and beauty through sound to the chaotic nature of the human soul. Some composers, like Bach, connected their efforts to religious faith; others, like Brahms or Beethoven, had more humanistic goals, and focused on the triumph of the human spirit. Non-European examples could surely be added, like the meditative intentions of Indian ragas, or the comfort and catharsis experienced in African-American blues music. The goals were similar—to add meaning and depth to human existence, to give voice to human passions, and to encourage the exercise of human reason in the creation of beauty. The point of studying music may sound overly idealistic or quaint to some, especially to those who only value a vocational degree. But to those who want to think about the big questions, like “what is a good life?” or “what will make me happy?” it is a liberal education, including the study of music, that will help to think about those questions, not an MBA degree.

Curriculum in music, including both applied music and coursework, should be offered to all students in higher education as components of arts and humanities requirements, whether they are experts or beginners. These courses and lessons should not be available to only a select few. In our highly diverse culture, experiencing and understanding music that is new to us is a way to bridge cultural gaps. Singing in a gospel choir, learning a Bach Minuet, listening to an Indonesian gamelan or horse-head fiddle music from Mongolia—all of these experiences help us to understand those who are different from us. It is a way of trying to overcome racial divisions in a highly diverse society. The same should be said for other arts disciplines, including visual arts, theater, and creative writing.

Equal pay for equal work

Music faculty have been particularly burdened with pay inequity. It is the responsibility of university administrators to look at their budgets and balance the need for more and more highly-paid administrative staff with equity in faculty salaries. It is time for music and arts faculty to be treated fairly, to be paid commensurate with tenure-line faculty for the work that they share in common. It is time for university administrators to either recognize the value of contingent music and arts faculty or move on to other employment that is less destructive of the vision of American higher education.


[i] Contra Kelly J. Baker, “The Myth of the Academic Lottery,” Vitae, 6/30/15, which argues that it is not luck, but “gender, race, age, and class,” that determines academic hires.

[ii]See Rob Jenkins, “Of Corporations, Corporatization, and Corporatism,” Vitae, July, 2014.

[iii] See Jessica Krash, “Adjunct Professor: GW’s Cuts will Crush Music Education Here,” Washington Post, April 16, 2015.


Jane Harty, D.M.A. is a Senior Lecturer in Music at Pacific Lutheran University, 1978-present.





CFP: 13th Annual Teaching Professors Conference

If you’re serious about teaching and want to learn how to stay sharp, effective, and confident, you’ll be joining the ranks at The Teaching Professor Conference.

This three-day conference, June 3-5, 2016, offers hands-on workshops, plenary sessions with captivating keynotes, dozens of concurrent sessions, and emerging research poster presentations.

More than that, this conference gives you the opportunity to interact with your peers from around the country (and world) who are facing the same challenges and wrestling with the same issues that you know well.

It brings like-minded, teaching-focused instructors and academic staff members together in a positive, supportive environment that generates optimism and enthusiasm.

It doesn’t matter what you teach. It doesn’t matter if your classroom is on campus or online. It doesn’t matter if you just wrapped up your first year on the faculty or if you’ve been a fixture for decades.

The Teaching Professor Conference generates insights and spurs inspiration that can invigorate your teaching and generate greater learning for your students.

Each year, The Teaching Professor Conference features sessions around these even topical areas:

  • Instructional Design
  • Activities that Engage Students
  • Teaching Specific Types of Students
  • Instructional Vitality: Ways to Keep Teaching Fresh and Invigorated
  • Teaching and Learning with Technology
  • Creating Climates for Learning
  • Faculty Development

If you’d like to discover tools, strategies, and ideas that will make your teaching better, more relevant, and more fun, then join us at The Teaching Professor Conference.

John McLaughlin is also looking for papers for a panel at this conference:

Adjunction Function: The Effect of Adjunct Reliance Upon the University.
Teaching Professor Conference, May 2016, Washington DC.

Deadline for Submission: October 31, 2015

I’m hoping to turn this into a panel or roundtable session, rather than just my paper on the topic; I’m looking for different views. I have a page or so of links to share with anyone interested enough to contact me via email.

Hall of Fame and Hope: “It’s Built on Your Backs.” -President Robert Knight

by Tiffany Kraft


The system that’s been built on adjuncts’ backs is broken, and there are other ways to contain costs and fund instruction.

We typically don’t read much about adjunct relations with college presidents, and maybe this is because they’re fairly non-existent, staged at a distance, or reactionary (negative). Wanting to get to the crux of the issue, I consulted former Dean and fellow Adjunct Activist Robert Craig Baum; specifically, I asked Dr. Baum: (1) “How can adjuncts proactively engage administration and impact policy when we are intentionally marginalized? (2) Do you see a way in, short of demanding a seat at the table?”

Here is his response:

 (1) Across the ‘00s, myself and a handful of adjuncts at the Community College System of New Hampshire (primarily River Valley and NHTI) built strong relationships with Executive Teams. Most of us had worked for Ivy League or Big Ten colleges and universities. Building trust, establishing collegiality, and maintaining affinities across the disciplines was vital to creating the conditions for successful teaching and learning. Then, something changed. The arrival of newly minted Academic Vice Presidents or Associate Deans charged with policing key sectors of the curriculum or budget increased tensions, drove wedges between faculty and top administration, and made it nearly impossible to continue faculty level conversations with Presidents, Trustees, or Legislators. Wherever affinities were nurtured, the programs succeeded. Student enrollment increased, faculty job satisfaction spiked, and revenues rose. Retention issues were normal, not extreme; successful academic progress had been rising. Then, something happened when Trustees and State Legislators prioritized administrative pay, benefits, and influence over faculty stability, retention, and equal pay for equal work.

(2) In the perfect world, I would adjunct all middle management who do not take on teaching or curriculum building responsibilities. Why? Is this purely a Karma move? No. Presidents and top Executive Team members charged with instructional and team-building duties (along with Program Directors and Chairs fully supporting ALL faculty) were absolutely wonderful to work with inside a collaborative structure. Which is hard work. In other words, it takes time to learn how to work together. And this normalized call to “Adjunct Everything” saves no money, increases territoriality between admins and faculty and increases stress and ineffective teaching, researching, and student advising. As long as highly paid administrators build their institutions on the backs of disposable labor or task-master adjuncts through poorly conceived (and in some cases extraordinarily specious) contracts, it makes it impossible to work together toward common goals. Decisions that benefit students and faculty will increase alliances as well as develop curriculum in a way that is real time not fantasy, inexpensive and grassroots-oriented rather than enabling the worst practices of a ravenous top-down Kafka-level state and private bureaucracy.

In this spirit, this past March 2015, President Robert Knight of Clark College spoke at an adjunct colloquium organized by our faculty senate. As you may imagine, the room was tense and faculty were ready to fire off questions and demands. When Knight took the podium, he first thanked us for opening the dialogue and inviting him to speak. He then said: “It’s no secret that the college is built on your backs.” He then moved on to talk about some of the challenges our college faces with state funding, community, and program needs.

I asked him about instructional spending, and though he could not quote the exact percentage, he asked me to take it up with the Vice President of Instruction, Tim Cook. What I’m getting at is that Knight didn’t dodge or deny the issues that our college and community face, and that earned my interest. He spoke for an hour and though nothing was resolved or promised, he listened and engaged with us. Is this enough? No—but it’s a start.

In opportunities like this colloquium provided, it is key to come prepared with strategic questions and evidence, not accusations and anger. Adjuncts are the majority faculty, and we can influence change with a clear purpose and vision; for me, this means working toward an equitable instructional minimum with benefits. Fighting for campus equity does not happen in a vacuum, though; joining the national movement to change higher ed is essential.

Out of all the schools I’ve worked for over the past 13 years, Clark is the school that’s given me some measure of job security, with Affiliate Faculty status, insurance benefits, a yearly memo, and Clark College Association of Higher Education, and WEA/NEA exclusive bargaining. But income inequality persists. And my memo is, of course, at-will, which means there is no reasonable assurance of employment. Per my memo with Clark College: “This memo is not a contract for employment and may be rescinded should the class(es) be cancelled or for any other reason.” I have always received the courses as stated per the yearly memo, and even some on top of that, which once pushed me to PT-FT status and pay grade.

I suspect that Clark is unique in many ways, and this is in no small part because of ethical Department Chairs and Adjunct Coordinators who fight for adjunct equity, even when all they can do is organize a pizza and beer party for us to bond at. Adjuncts at Clark are also welcome to attend appropriate departmental meetings, per our AHE agreement. And it’s rare to report gains, but on July 1, 2015, Knight emailed the college master list to report: “The final budget includes a 3% salary increase for all state employees effective today, July 1. It also includes a 5% tuition reduction for community colleges, starting this fall.”

We have a lot to gain by working together to fix higher education, and that has been my goal in our conversations. I occasionally email Knight, my chair, and coordinator links to articles that I write or am mentioned in; they are all aware of my activism and I haven’t been disappeared. In fact, they’ve thanked me. Reprisal is a real concern, though, and I realize I am fortunate to work with many ethical colleagues in an AHE organized college. But just look at Duquesne University’s recent threats to adjunct organizers, and the ugliness is all too clear.

It may sound counterintuitive, but it is through my activism that I’ve found a sense of security, however real it is. And this is true of two other, but definitely not all, of the institutions I’ve worked at. I even cited my activism in my 5-year review at Clark, detailing how it makes me an active colleague, teacher, and citizen. It’s not the people in power that I take issue with, but the flawed system, and working toward proactive solutions is in everyone’s best interest: we need parity, not polarization.

This is my perspective, and I’m fully aware that other activists and faculty at Clark and elsewhere may not appreciate or share it. Not all administrators are bad actors, though. In “Opinion: The Battle Ahead” A. Madjunct acknowledges that “it really is up to us to rescue ourselves and actively organize, to do the actual work it takes to fight back and win.” Part of that work, I argue, is communicating our needs with integrity and conviction. For me, this means exercising democracy, diplomatically.

So I’m going to keep emailing President Knight, my chair, and coordinator when I have something to share that moves the discussion forward. They can read or delete it as they will. America’s College Promise Act of 2015 offers students, administrators, and faculty an opportunity to rise above business-as-usual campus politics and engage in conversations that lift the whole community. The Act “makes two years of community college free and provides an affordable pathway for low-income students to a four-year college degree. The legislation would give students the opportunity to access quality and affordable higher education that gives them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.” And quality higher education is only a reality if Congress also funds instruction.

I’ve been given every opportunity to make it in traditional academe, and though I didn’t pass through the eye of that particular needle, I’m on the margins, talking freely and fighting for faculty and students. My fellow adjunct activists, whom I consider close colleagues, have paved the way for equity and inclusion in the workplace for all faculty. I’ll likely never be a tenured professor, but my activism continually opens doors and I feel a sense of purpose beyond the classroom.

Baum remembers

a time when talking freely, disagreeing as colleagues, and working toward common goals, not simply making decisions for personal and very specific program needs, was the norm. I was raised in this climate in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. As Dean, I attempted to create this kind of collaborative environment but at each step along the way I was resisted. An agenda? I’m not sure. Perhaps it was unfamiliar; and oftentimes unfamiliar ways of living and working are viewed with suspicion.

I believe President Knight gets that, and more college presidents should follow his lead, and talk with their faculty. I’d like to see more colloquia with strategic question-and-answer sessions and less year-end motivational speeches that inevitably call on faculty to tighten their belts for the impending budget shortfall. We need, rather, to revalue and invest in instruction to ensure student success. The debt-for-diploma exchange is hurting students; it’s time to focus on educational quality and inclusion of all faculty.

At the close of our colloquium, I asked Knight to press harder for our college at the state level, as we’re competing for funds. Transparency is an issue here, and this is where accountability comes to play. All colleges should be regulated closely. Students and taxpayers deserve this much. But “if we confine the discussion to cost and debt, we will have failed,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan argues, “because we will have only found better ways to pay for a system that fails far too many of our students.” The system that’s been built on adjuncts’ backs isn’t broken, it’s intentionally divisive and there are other ways to contain costs and fund instruction. Let’s keep talking about this.

Baum agrees: “If the new resources simply benefit the administrators who create jobs for themselves to oversee (supposedly) the new adjuncts or program directors, then the free system cannot work. It will merely reproduce the current system of top down over budgeting in new ways with new monies from Federal resources.”

And, yes, I’ve been passed over when tenure-track positions in my department have opened, but I’m not bitter; the jobs went to qualified and committed colleagues. And closed doors have opened new opportunities for me to make a difference in higher ed, locally and nationally. Like Oscar Wilde’s presence in a stained-glass window at Westminster Abbey in the Poets’ Corner: adjuncts are neither in nor out, yet we perform the core mission of the college as we guide “individuals to achieve their educational and professional goals.” Quid pro quo.

Conference: Writing on the Edge; Adjuncts Transforming Composition in the 21st Century

Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015
Jack H. Turner Conference Center
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 2000
8 am – 4 pm

A special pre-conference event:
Pathways: A Career Event for Contingent Faculty
Friday, September 18, 2015
6-10:30 pm

College of DuPage is hosting a new fall conference for English and ESL adjuncts. “Writing on the Edge: Adjuncts Transforming Composition in the 21st Century” will be held at College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn campus on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Organized by the lecturers in the English and Academic ESL subdivision, the conference aims to bring together English and ESL adjunct faculty engaged in the teaching of writing across platforms, and to provide ample opportunities for information sharing and networking. Sessions will focus on the work of adjuncts to further composition pedagogy and address topics in multimodal literacy, technology in the classroom, positive student engagement, and enhanced professional practice.

Keynote Address:  “The Power of Narrative Thinking, ” Bruce Ballenger, author of The Curious Researcher and The Curious Writer

For additional information, please email