NAU has hired 30 more administrators and spent $6 million more on administrator salaries since 2005, according to a study shared at the Contingent Faculty Conference. This discrepancy outrages the contingent faculty who say that others are not seeing equal benefits.
Temporary employees at the university level are called instructors, lecturers, temporary employees, visiting professors, research professors, contingent faculty, non-tenure track faculty, but not adjunct professors. At many other universities they are called adjunct, but at NAU “adjunct” is a courtesy title. While these titles define a temporary position, many of these workers do not feel their jobs are temporary at all.
One woman, Philippa Winkler, has been working at NAU for 13 years as a temporary employee, and believes she is undervalued.
“I was recruited as a national expert on the status of Iraqi women for a report to the European Parliament,” Winkler said. “I’ve been to the U.N., I’ve started resolutions at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights . . . I feel like, it’s [worth] nothing.”
On April 12, the NAU branch of American Association for University Professors convened the Contingent Faculty Conference in the Social and Behavioral Sciences West building to express their feelings of fear, anxiety and isolation.
Non-tenure track faculty means faculty who work without tenure — their positions are temporary. Many of these faculty members fear retaliation for voicing their outrage and did not want to be quoted or photographed as their jobs could be in jeopardy. The conference allowed them to collectively discuss ways to organize their anxiety into action for change in a safe environment.
“This is the beginning, you have to first share your pain. Then you realize this is not private pain, this is public pain. It’s collective pain. Collectively, we can do something about this,” Winkler said.
The problem of unequal spending at the administration level is not unique to Flagstaff and it is not even unique to Arizona.
There have been many articles about what NAU non-tenure track faculty have called “administrator bloat” in publications like the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the website HigherEdJobs.com. While the exact numbers differ nationally, higher education spending on administrators has been trending upward.
The Wall Street Journal did research into the U. Department of Education and found that “the number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50 percent faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011.”
All three of Arizona’s major universities had non-tenure track faculty representatives at the NAU conference. Faculty voiced anxiety, ranging from their low wages and job vulnerability to a lack of due process and lack of academic freedom.
These worries mean they believe that if they can be fired, or not renewed, for any reason then they will be constantly in fear of stepping on toes. The lack of clear due process impinges on the faculty’s ability to teach content they believe to be true and impedes the ability to teach it without fear. They refer to this idea of restrained academic exploration as an impediment on their academic freedom.
“[The Administration is] basically conceiving of a faculty member as someone you can just slot in, just in time for this class, and then they leave. They’re saying education is not about learning anything,” said director of the Center of Higher Education at University of Arizona Gary Rhoades. “It’s not about carrying on a journey with a bunch of students and faculty. It’s not about challenging ideas. It’s just about slotting people in. That is profoundly dangerous.”
Rhoades traveled to Flagstaff to attend the conference in support of non-tenure track faculty.
Currently, non-tenure track faculty have a four-level payment system, according to information given at the conference. The first level begins at $910 per credit hour, the second level at $980, the third level is at $1,050 and the fourth level at $1,120. Faculty are paid per credit hour, not by the amount of time they actually spend working in and out of the classroom. Raises have to be asked for, and are not given automatically.
To attain the level of full-time, an instructor must work 15 credit hours. Someone who works 14 credit hours would get $15,680 per semester.
The job security that non-tenure track faculty members are looking for is not given to them after a certain amount of time. They must wait for tenured positions to open, then apply for the position. There is no direct way for a non-tenure track faculty to become tenured.
The non-tenure track faculty are encouraging more temporary employees, tenured faculty and students to involve their perspectives on this ongoing issue.