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The Mixdown

03/24/2014 - 3:08pm

-by Jacqueline Froelich

I recently reported on a national trend, what I refer to as supply-chained college instructors—contingent faculty barred by an “ivory ceiling” from progressing toward tenured positions. Critics refer to the phenomenon as the “Wal-Martization” of academia, an outcome of institutions seeking to contain wage and benefit costs. Finding adjunct faculty to talk on the record for my story was exceedingly difficult.

I spoke with a number on background. In the end, only one brave individual agreed to came forward, anonymously. She feared she would be fired. But most adjuncts? One college spokesperson pointed out to me? Have primary jobs outside of college. Problem is no such data, exists. Data does show a majority of college faculty are contingent, a generational paradigm shift.

What is also clear is that many adjuncts and even full time instructors want to secure permanent teaching careers. Instead, they end up living contract to contract. Still there is good news. Certain institutions, like the University of Arkansas, are aware of the problem and are starting to take stock. And some colleges have already extended longer contracts to adjuncts. But systemic change is needed, advocates say, and will only occur through persistent organized labor.

Listen to my report, which aired last week on Ozarks at Large.

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