14 August 2023
Colleen Bond’s “A Path Forward: Non-Tenure-Track and Tenure-Track Coalitions” appears in FORUM: Issues about Part-Time and Contingent Faculty (volume 26, issue 02), which in turn is an insert in the March 2023 issue of Teaching English in the Two-Year College (vol. 50, issue 03). Bond is a “College Professor of English at New Mexico State University-Alamogordo” (NMSUA), a community college in the New Mexico State University System (“Locations”).
Allyship between Tenured Faculty and Non-tenure Track Faculty
Bond’s thesis is, “The only way to successfully address equitable treatment and inclusion for non-tenure-track faculty is for tenure-track faculty (TTF) to serve as advocates for their NTT [non-tenure track] peers at their individual institutions” (A1). She illustrates her thesis by discussing how the adjuncts at her community college, NMSUA, “gain[ed] representation and voting rights both at their local institution and at the main campus” (A3).
Bond insists that TTF can only be meaningful allies if they collaborate with NTTF (non-tenure track faculty) rather than decide what is in NTTF faculty’s best interest without their input: “The goal for faculty with tenure privileges is not to speak for faculty whose position is variable from one semester to another, but to speak with non-tenured faculty in order to reach the desired results” (A1; Bond’s emphasis).
I was not surprised that Bond emphasized the importance of TTF listening and “speaking with” rather than “speaking for” NTTF faculty. Over the years, I have attended, co-organized, and presented on panels devoted to contingency at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention, as well as served on MLA committees with contingent faculty; and I have heard repeated complaints from NTTF faculty that conversations with TTF can turn into top-down (and sometimes condescending) communication rather than conversations among equals. For meaningful change to occur for contingent faculty, TTF must listen to their NTTF peers.
Shared Governance Must Include NTTF
Bond recommends “the establishment of adjunct subcommittees as part of the larger faculty senate or other equivalent governing body on campus” (A1). Bond cites an American Association of University Professors (AAUP) report from 2012 (“The Inclusion in Governance of Faculty Members Holding Contingent Appointments”) to justify the inclusion of NTTF in shared governance: “the basic requirements for and means of participating in governance activities that apply to contingent faculty should be as parallel as possible to those that apply to full-time tenure-track faculty” (qtd. in Bond A3).
Bond notes the irony of shared governance excluding NTTF because they are often the majority of faculty on campus (A3). Bond also stresses that TTF should use their job security to advocate for issues relevant to NTTF with input from NTTF because contingent faculty “may fear retaliation in the form of losing teaching contracts as retribution for speaking out” (A3).
Shared Governance at NMSUA. Bond observes that the path to shared governance for NTTF at NMSUA “began largely because of the issue of self-naming” (A3): “When [Bond] started at [NMSUA], adjunct faculty were designated as temporary part-time; the campus culture referred to [NTTF] as temporary employees despite the fact that some adjuncts had taught [t]here for over twenty years” (A3). A TTF member decided to assist the NTTF in changing the official language about NTTF from “temporary faculty” to “adjuncts”; and out of those efforts, “an official adjunct subcommittee” was formed, which “eventually resulted in a seven-year journey toward adjunct representation” (A3). The conversations on nomenclature ultimately led to “honorific titles such as College Associate Professor [being] awarded based on years of service” (A3).
Shared governance that include NTTF also resulted in revision to the scheduling processes. The college began “projecting course needs a year in advance to reduce the peaks and valleys of semester-to-semester employment. The result has been greater stability with fewer last-minute course cancellations” (A4). Bond notes that the TTF were instrumental in this success because of their access to administration (A4). The TTF chair of “the adjunct subcommittee … petitioned the campus executive officer for the pay increase in conversation with the vice president of finance” (A4).
Bond observes that having TTF on the adjunct subcommittee “gives credibility to its work instead of having it perceived as merely a site for an adjunct gripe session” (A4). The majority NTTF on the adjunct subcommittee ensures that the TTF understand fully the concerns of adjuncts (A4). She emphasizes that NTTF set the agenda of the adjunct subcommittee meetings and reiterates the idea that TTF are “talking not for but with contingent faculty” (A4; Bond’s emphasis). TTF bring the issues to Faculty Assembly, which minimizes risks of “retaliation from institutional stakeholders” (A5). TTF also “negotiate for implementation of the solution by negotiating with division heads and administrators” (A5).
Bond advocates for NTTF to participate on other committees for compensation (A5). A selling point for optional contributions of NTTF on campus service is that “the work [of service] is spread out to more community members instead of landing on the heads of the few TT[F]” (A5). The article’s emphasis is on shared governance, but Bond notes that modest pay raises have occurred for adjuncts since they have a greater prominence on campus with the aid of their tenured colleges (A4).
Similar adjunct activism has occurred at the main campus of New Mexico State University and has resulted in NTTF representation in Faculty Senate (A6).
Bond’s article was striking in that it is largely positive and shows NTTF succeeding at participation in shared governance. Bond shows the importance for TTF to listen, support, and advocate for NTTF; however, it also shows the benefits for the TTF–i.e., wider distribution of service requirements, as well as the satisfaction of creating a more equitable and diverse working environment. NTTF participation in shared governance is new to NMSUA, but having a voice at the table gives contingent faculty greater opportunities to make an impact on the campus and also to improve their working conditions. I hope that Bond follows up in several years with another article that contains further examples of NTTF faculty making a positive impact at MNSUA and increasing the rights they hold in shared governance.
Bond, Colleen. “A Path Forward: Non-Tenure-Track and Tenure-Track Coalitions.” FORUM: Issues about Part-Time and Contingent Faculty, vol. 26, no. 02, 2023, pp. A1-A7. https://library.ncte.org/journals/TETYC/issues/v50-3/32510?_gl=1*vngiq4*_ga*MTgxMzI0NDcyLjE2Nzg3NjI1NzM.*_ga_L5Q68NRK05*MTY5MTk2MjA3NC4xOS4wLjE2OTE5NjIwNzQuNjAuMC4w.
“The Inclusion in Governance of Faculty Members Holding Contingent Appointments.” American Association of University Professors, November 2012, https://www.aaup.org/report/inclusion-governance-faculty-members-holding-contingent-appointments.
“Locations.” New Mexico State University, n.d., https://nmsu.edu/about/locations.html.