“Good to Know”: Part Time Faculty and Course Loads by Robert Ausch UFCT 1460 Treasurer and Grievance
Updated: 4 days ago
In this month’s newsletter, I will address common questions related to the contract and working at Pratt. Today I focus on common questions from part time faculty about the number of courses they can expect to be assigned. Please let me know if you have any additional topics you would like this section to cover (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are Part Time faculty guaranteed a certain minimum workload?
In the 2011-2015 CBA, section XX.11.a, adjunct faculty were guaranteed a 50% workload. This language was removed in 2016. Visiting faculty have never had a minimum workload guarantee as their reappointment is at the discretion of the administration. In the case of currently teaching adjunct faculty and adjunct faculty with CCEs, despite having no specific workload minimums in the contract, there is an implied one. The CBA requires that the administration follow certain procedures in order to not reappoint them (see next question). Assigning an adjunct one course does meet the requirement for reappointment. However, there are ways to secure a larger load that is protected by the contract.
Can the administration terminate adjunct faculty?
In the case of adjunct faculty without a CCE, it is possible but the CBA spells out the process.
XXII.1.(a) Each semester adjunct faculty covered by this section may be evaluated by the appropriate Chairperson or other supervisor as to whether or not they meet the departmental standards of professional competence as teachers. If two (2) successive academic year evaluations are negative, they will not be reappointed. Evaluation reports shall be in writing with copies given to the individual faculty member who shall have the opportunity to append or affix his or her comments.
The latest CBA added the clause “by the appropriate chairperson or other supervisor.” These evaluations must be in writing and faculty must have the opportunity to append or affix comments. Since not all chairs are experts in faculty’s “professional competence as teachers,” such evaluations must be scrutinized to determine whether the standards they employ are arbitrary or capricious. In other words, such evaluations must meet a certain bar in order to be used to deny reappointment. In the case of adjuncts with CCEs, they are offered the full protection of tenure by the CBA: termination only in cases of misconduct, incompetent service or neglect of duty (CBA Article XXVIII.13.a).
How to ensure a minimum of a 50% load for part time faculty?
For all part time faculty who choose to participate in the Pratt adjunct or adjunct with CCE health care plans, the CBA requires that they be assigned a 50% load. Starting January 2024, Pratt will contribute 75% of the costs of adjunct health care premiums. Pratt already contributes 85% of the cost of premiums for adjuncts with CCE. Because Visiting faculty cannot participate in the Pratt adjunct health care plan, they do not have this option.
I am an adjunct and I was told that Pratt respects seniority in course assignments: Doesn’t that mean I should get a full load before any visiting faculty are assigned courses?
The answer is not necessarily. The CBA does require the consideration of seniority when courses are assigned, but only under specific conditions.
XXII.4.(b) Academic competence shall govern the assignment of courses. In the event that individuals of equal competence apply for a course, seniority shall prevail. For purposes of interpreting and applying this provision, “academic competence” shall be determined by the Administration and said determination shall not be overturned unless arbitrary and capricious. If the incumbent is not being offered the course, he or she will be provided the reason for that decision.
Seniority prevails only in cases where part time faculty of equal competence apply for the same course. The CBA specifies that “academic competence” is determined by the administration–typically a department chair. Thus someone with less seniority can be determined to have greater competence in the case of a specific course. However, if a member of the adjunct faculty is currently teaching a course, this is a clear indication that the administration has determined that they are competent. Thus, to take away such a course and assign it to a faculty with less seniority would be arbitrary and capricious, a violation of the CBA. For adjunct faculty, the best way to secure a 50% load or higher is to teach the same course or courses over and over again. Required courses with stable enrollment provide even more security. Because the contents of a field can change, having taught a course in the past is not necessarily a guarantee of a judgment of academic competence in the present. Teaching a course currently is the best guarantee of that judgment adjunct faculty have.
I am an adjunct with a CCE. Doesn’t that mean I am guaranteed a 75% load?
Again, under certain conditions.
XXII.4.(a) For adjunct faculty who hold a Certificate of Continuous Employment, the Administration will make every reasonable effort to provide the maximum adjunct workload to those who request it, to the extent possible consistent with school, departmental and programmatic needs.
The operative clause here is “to those that request it.” Adjuncts with a CCE must request a maximum load. This can be done in writing by simply alerting a chairperson you are requesting your maximum load. The administration then must make every reasonable effort to provide it. Reasonable effort is a strong standard. Expecting a department to provide a full load mid-semester is not reasonable, but requesting to move toward a full load in the following semester or semesters is. If a course assigned to a CCE fails to enroll, it is perfectly reasonable that the department provide them with service work to make up for the missing contact hours. Whatever the department does in the cases of full time faculty with under enrolled courses, is reasonable in the cases of tenured part time faculty with under enrolled courses. If you have a CCE and your department refuses to provide a path to a 75% load, please contact the union immediately.
I understand these requirements, but my chair is not following them. What should I do?
A CBA is only good if its provisions are enforced. The first step in such cases is to contact the union and determine if a grievance is appropriate. Sometimes newly hired chairs are not familiar with the intricacies of our contract and simply need to be educated by the union. Remember, it is a violation of the law to retaliate against faculty who turn to the union to protect their rights. We must all make sure violations of the contract are quickly reported and swiftly dealt with.
Robert Ausch Adjunct Professor of Psychology UFCT 1460 Treasurer and Grievance UAW 7902 Joint Council and Rep email@example.com