Adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois find their voice

tags: University of Illinois, adjuncts, contigent faculty



David Austin Walsh is the editor of the History News Network. Follow him on Twitter.

Dorothee Schneider did everything right. She has had a long and varied career as an academic historian, with two books and dozens of articles under her belt. She co-edited the Samuel Gompers papers, and was even awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2007.

Her academic career began in earnest in 1983, when she received her PhD from the University of Munich, but it was only last August that she celebrated a major milestone in her professional career, when her salary broke $50,000 for the first time ever.

Dr. Schneider, like nearly half of faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her home institution, falls into the category of "other academics," without tenure or any real job stability.

The Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette published a report on Sunday about efforts by non-tenure-track faculty to "seek a voice" at the U of I. Schneider is one of the faculty members profiled, and she is taking a leading role in organizing non-tenure-track faculty on that campus. The issues raised by the article are all-too-familiar to non-tenure-track faculty across the country:

  • A 7.5 percent decline in the number of tenure-track faculty, but a 27.6 percent increase in non-tenure-track faculty.
  • Lack of visibility for adjuncts and contingent faculty, especially in the humanities.
  • Low pay.
  • Lack of job security.
  • No union representation (The U of I at Urbana-Champaign does not have a faculty union).
  • Poor academic freedom protection.

Read the full article here. It's worth reading -- not every day does the local media shine a light on the plight of adjuncts. Perhaps the tragic death of Margaret Mary Vojtko really did have consequences.



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