Dartmouth's Daily Blog
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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One Third Adjuncts?
A professor writes in:
Here is the problem: we have a growing number of adjuncts teaching courses at Dartmouth. However, they do not undergo the rigorous examination of their teaching quality that tenure-track faculty undergo. We receive student evaluations, of course, but we do not have a process for adjuncts of sitting in on classes, observing the teaching, discussing the teaching with the instructor, etc. What’s the result? Do we not care about the quality of adjuncts, some of whom teach for decades?
The point is not insignificant in that Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno and Registrar Meredith Braz have both confirmed to me that approximately 34% of the College’s classes are taught by non-tenure-track/non-tenured professors.
This state of affairs has come about as the College has lessened teaching loads on tenure-line faculty members over the years (everyone used to teach five courses each year; today faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses, and professors in the Sciences teach three). Of course, there are competitive reasons for reduced teaching, but the College has not compensated for the changes by adding additional, expensive full faculty members to its ranks (it’s better to hire hundreds of staffers, right?). The administration, as at so many other schools, chose to go with part-timers and other teachers who had been unable to secure tenure track positions — thereby debasing the coin of the realm.
The contrast is notable. As examples, for English 5 (now Writing 5), I was taught by now-full-professor Don Pease (and I survived); and my Italian 1 prof was Nancy Vickers, who went on to become the President of Bryn Mawr. Can today’s students claim teachers of the same pedigree?
That said, the College is holding the line as compared to most institutions in higher education, according to a report published in November by the Delta Cost Project — The Shifting Academic Workforce: Where Are the Contingent Faculty:
Between 2003 and 2013, the study finds, the share of faculty members who were off the tenure track increased from:
- 45 to 62 percent at public bachelor’s degree-granting institutions.
- 52 to 60 percent at private bachelor’s-granting colleges.
- 44 to 50 percent at public research universities.
- 80 to 83 percent at community colleges.
However, given Dartmouth’s wealth, if Phil could get his priorities straight, expanding the faculty in order that classes be smaller and tenure-track faculty have more contact with students, we might help claw back our declining ranking as regards undergraduate teaching.
Addendum: One further comment from a past post:
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.
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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