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News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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The Rise of the Adjuncts
The NYT had a good piece not too long ago describing the increased role of adjunct (non-tenured, non-tenure track) professors at institutions of higher learning.
In 1960, 75 percent of college instructors were full-time tenured or tenure-track professors; today only 27 percent are. The rest are graduate students or adjunct and contingent faculty — instructors employed on a per-course or yearly contract basis, usually without benefits and earning a third or less of what their tenured colleagues make. The recession means their numbers are growing.
The Times article points readers to several sites where information can be had about the statistical breakdown of a school’s faculty, but later the article wisely advises that prospective students and parents ask what percentage of a school’s courses are taught by professors in each category. A good idea.
Let’s look at these two issues as they relate to Dartmouth. According to the Dartmouth Factbook, at the end of 2008, the College’s faculty broke down as follows:
Tenured Faculty: 283
Tenure-track Faculty: 98
Adjunct Faculty (full-time): 79
Adjunct Faculty (part-time): 100
A friend who is a data cruncher extraordinaire adduced the following figure for me: one third of the College’s courses in the fall term of 2009 were taught by non-tenured/non-tenure-track faculty. However, a few years ago, a senior administrator told me that over 40% of all classes were taught by adjunct faculty.
The reason for the disparity between the number of faculty members and the courses taught by the two groups has to do with the teaching load carried by professors in the different categories. The College’s tenured/tenure-track professors in the Humanities and Social Science divisions teach four courses/year and those in the Sciences teach three courses; however, adjunct faculty members can teach two courses per quarter, so their annual teaching load can surpass that of tenured/tenure-track profs.
As in all things, the issue here is balance. Any institution needs a certain percentage of adjunct professors — people to whom it does not make a long term commitment. For example, these flexible relationships allow the administration to shift resources from departments less favored by students over time to more popular ones. And often adjunct faculty are the highly qualified spouses of tenured professors, for whom there is no available tenured position. Their teaching and research can be first-rate.
That said, adjuncts can also be department orphans, excluded from departmental meetings and subject to little or no oversight. As the saying goes, quality may vary.
Overall, the College is doing far better than the national averages cited by the Times in this area. Let’s hope that economic pressures don’t push us away from a balanced commitment to undergraduates.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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