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Course Cancellations for Under Enrollment: A Guide for Part Time Faculty

Updated: Mar 6

Being a contingent part time faculty in higher education is filled with many uncertainties and indignities. Contingency implies a level of risk and for the contingent faculty member, future income is never certain. Here at Pratt, our contract offers some protections against these uncertainties for those with adjunct status and very strong protections for those with CCE status. One of the uncertainties regularly experienced by contingent part time faculty is the under enrollment of a course leading to its cancellation. Ideally, good planning on the part of departments makes this rare, but even with the best planning, students ultimately decide which classes they will take and with which faculty. When a class is canceled for low enrollment, part time faculty can find themselves in precarious economic circumstances as in general they are not compensated for classes that do not run. At Pratt, our contract gives Pratt the right to lay off non-tenured faculty in the event of insufficient enrollment (Article XXIX.1.A). This is not unusual across other institutions of higher education. To be clear, this only applies to non-tenured faculty: CCEs should never experience a loss of compensation due to a course cancellation-- they may either be assigned a replacement course being taught by someone without a CCE or they may be assigned committee work in a department paid via a stipend equal to the income of the lost course. At NYU, the new contract gives part time faculty a percentage of the course compensation if a course is canceled less than 14 days before the start of the semester in recognition of the fact that much of the “work” begins before the first day of classes. Sometimes the reason a course under enrolls is not because of student lack of interest, but because a course was not properly visible to students during registration. In this case, the administration has failed to give the course sufficient visibility either by administrative error or negligence--faculty should not have the burden of making sure their courses are visible to students. This is the responsibility of the administration. However, this does happen and if it does we recommend faculty create a record. Combined with other factors, this could provide the basis for a future grievance. No faculty member should lose income because of an administrative error or negligence. To this end, we recommend that part time faculty confirm that their courses are visible to students in the online course catalog. Since registration started on Monday November 13, 2023, we recommend faculty do this right away. If your course is not visible, please take a screenshot and alert both your department and the union right away. For those new to Pratt, the easiest way to do this is to click “self-service’ when logged into “One Pratt.” For the student view click “Course Catalog” (not “Faculty”). Find your “Subject.” Filter your results by semester and your name. Click on “view available sections.” If you notice your course is missing take a screenshot or photo. You can also take screenshots of the results for the semester when you click on the “faculty” tab in self-service to highlight the discrepancy. Contingency is difficult enough, contingent faculty should never experience additional financial precariousness because of administrative errors. In Solidarity, Robert Ausch UFCT Local 1460 Treasurer and Grievance

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