Since the inception of community colleges in 1960s, the status of faculty has undergone a dramatic change. Research has found that the number of part-time faculty has increased by 86% since this time (Schuster & Finkelstein, 2006). In 2012, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) reported that 70% of community college employees were part-time while only 30% of faculty were classified as full-time. Hiring part-time faculty has become a preferred choice than hiring full-time faculty because of the low salary and flexibility of part-time positions (Jacoby, 2006).
Part-time faculty positions attract a range of individuals with different goals and motivations (Gappa & Leslie, 1993). Some part-time faculty, specifically those in the arts and sciences who are trained to teach, rely on non-tenure track positions as either a main or supplemental source of income because their skills are not as valued in private industry (Wagoner, 2007). Others, such as those in vocational-related fields who have private industry experience but have not had formal pedagogical experiences, choose non-tenure track positions as a way to share their knowledge and expertise and gain enjoyment from teaching while continuing to work in private industry (Gappa & Leslie, 1993; Wagoner, 2007). Finally, some part-time faculty view temporary employment as a way to ease into a permanent, tenured position (Gappa & Leslie, 1993).
Beyond goals and motivations, the demographics represented by part-time faculty are skewed. Although the numbers of men and women in part-time positions are about equal (AACC, 2012), the number of women in non-tenure track positions are fewer than the percentage represented in tenure-track positions in higher education (Gappa & Leslie, 1993). When it comes to race and ethnicity, minorities are not sufficiently represented in part-time faculty positions (AACC, 2012; Kezar, 2010).
Research has shown that the working experiences of part-time faculty are often negative, for a myriad of reasons (Kezar, 2010). These reasons range from receiving low levels of compensation, to lacking job security, to simply feeling that they are unheard and ignored by others members in the college environment. The following recommendations are based on Kezar’s (2010) meta-analysis of non-tenure track faculty (including part-time faculty) in order to improve their levels of satisfaction with the higher education working environment:
- Communicate respect to non-tenure track faculty
- Ensure a consistent hiring process for non-tenure track faculty
- Encourage inclusion of non-tenure track faculty with tenure track faculty
- Reconsider contract length of non-tenure track faculty
- Consider providing compensation and benefits similar to tenure track faculty
- Clarify expectations of work role
- Implement and use tools related to promotion and evaluation
- Support professional development opportunities
- Encourage academic freedom
- Provide resources for non-tenure track faculty
The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research recognizes the need to understand more about this group of employees and are committed to conducting research based on the data collected from this group using the PACE report in addition to the specialized part-time faculty scale in this report. This data will be analyzed using a framework that covers the background information of part-time faculty and the following factors:
- Job Security, Motivation and Advancement
- Compensation and Benefits
- Training and Evaluation
- Inclusion and Access
American Association of Community Colleges. (2012). Community college trends and
statistics. Retrieved from http://www.aacc.nche.edu/
Gappa, J. M., & Leslie, D. W. (1993). The Invisible Faculty. Improving the Status of Part-Timers in Higher Education. Jossey-Bass Inc.
Jacoby, D. (2006). Effects of part-time faculty employment on community college graduation rates. Journal of Higher Education, 77(6), 1081-1103.
Kezar, A. (2010). Understanding the new majority: Contingent faculty in higher education.
ASHE Higher Education Report, 36(5), 1-91.
Schuster, J. H., and Finkelstein, M. J. (2006). The American faculty: The restructuring of
academic work and careers. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Wagoner, R. L. (2007). Part-time faculty satisfaction across missions and disciplines. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2007(140), 75.