The Committee on Contingent Labor’s #MLA16 Sessions

526. Contingent Faculty Members in Service

Saturday, 9 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 402, JW Marriott

Presiding: Andrew Yale, Univ. of Chicago

1. “The Soul of Higher Education Under Corporatization,” Tiffany Kraft, Clark College.

Tiffany Kraft, Faculty Forward Network Activist Leader and Associate Faculty of English at Clark College, will show the importance of issues-based organization and strategic action to bring about authentic change in higher education that prioritizes student learning, invests in educators, and reduces student debt. Consider any higher-ed sector (for-profit, not-for-profit private, or public) that operates on a profit-over-mission model and you see the massive scope and standardization of the 21st-century labor crisis. We are not just looking at fast food, but fast health, fast service and hospitality, fast childcare, and fast higher education. Our social institutions and service industries are crumbling under the weight of corporatization and contingency. It’s time for students, faculty, alum, and allies to shine a floodlight on higher-ed’s bad actors, join the national movement to transform it, and fight to take back our colleges and universities. We cannot accept income inequality as the new global standard.

2. “Playing the Long Game: Strategic Service and Contingent-Faculty Advocacy,” Lacey Wootton, American Univ.

Lacey Wootton, Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer and past chair of the Faculty Senate at American University, will discuss contingent-faculty service as a long-term strategy for self-advocacy. Using American University’s contingent faculty as an example, she will outline the ways that participation in service can lay the foundation for advocacy, and she will provide specific suggestions for ways to maximize the advocacy benefits of service. She will argue that, among other benefits, participation in service can provide access to institutional decision making.

3. “Distinguishing between Opportunity and Exploitation: Service and Contingent Faculty Members,” Helene Meyers, Southwestern Univ.

Helene Meyers, Professor of English and McManis University Chair at Southwestern University in Texas, a right to work state, will argue that service done by contingent faculty resides on the porous boundary between opportunity and exploitation. Like housework, academic service is often feminized, devalued, unpaid, and invisible labor, even as it keeps institutions of higher education functional. Simultaneously, academic service can be a means of obtaining professional and institutional cultural capital. The real and potential effects of this contradiction on not only individual workers but also faculty governance are ridiculously complex; since not all institutions work the same way or have the same culture, it’s important to understand local conditions when deciding whether or not and how to serve. Strategic practices regarding the service of contingent faculty should, at the very least, illuminate and, at best, transform the service economy of individual institutions and of higher education in general.

4. “Access to Service through Collegial and Political Means,” David Kociemba, Emerson Coll.

David Kociemba, member of the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession and president of the adjunct-­only unit AFEC-­AAUP, will use Emerson College as a case study of his union’s efforts to get access to compensated service and governance work. AFEC­-AAUP sought to gain the right to vote in faculty governance and gain access to department meetings through collegial and political means, using the AAUP recommendations on shared governance inclusion of contingent faculty. The union used its most recent contract negotiations to push at the bargaining table for a point of alliance with tenure-­line faculty: alleviating service load at a college whose increased tenure­ lines have not matched its explosive enrollment growth. The union was able to win paid attendance at department meetings (albeit for a single adjunct representative), paid committee work, and paid service work for its president (albeit a stipend not equivalent to a course release). This presentation will end with arguments for why colleges should embrace adjunct inclusion in service and governance work as a best practice.

 

587. Evaluating Contingent Faculty Members: Processes, Purposes, Consequences

Saturday, 9 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 201, JW Marriott

Presiding: Cynthia A. Current, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

1. “Notes from the Dark Side: An Adjunct Activist Administrator,” Monica F. Jacobe, Coll. of New Jersey

Over a decade ago, Monica F. Jacobe, Director of the Center for American Language & Culture, engaged in her first campus-based activism in support of adjunct colleagues. She then joined the national AAUP staff in order to help campuses navigate the contingent class system and assist with the AAUP’s expansion through publications and consulting. As a director, she now finds herself in the position of hiring and evaluating contingent faculty. In this presentation, she reflects on her journey but also shares what she learned about the responsibilities of an ally on the management side of academe—what allies can, should, and must do in respect to evaluation in and outside of a union environment.

2. “Valuing and Evaluating Contingent Faculty Members,” Christine M. Probes, Univ. of South Florida

As a full professor at a large public Research I University, and as Head of the French section of our 37 member World Languages Department, Christine McCall Probes discusses the processes, purposes and consequences of evaluating contingent faculty members. In her role as Chair of the Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences, she works closely with the elected representatives of other departments, benefitting from practices in departments in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Sciences (these are Schools within our College).

Her presentation addresses AAUP statistics, along with data from her own university; processes of accreditation, evaluations, grievance reports, and collegiality; the effective and enhanced delivery of curriculum; faculty mentoring; and the consequences of the above, which include significant improvement for the curriculum and the university, increased morale, and progress toward solidarity by inclusion contingent faculty in all-faculty events, such as research colloquia.

3. “One Size Does Not Fit All: The Need for Flexible Evaluations for Multimodal Classes,” Jennifer Black, Boise State Univ.

Jennifer Black’s department has a well-established system for observation and evaluation of faculty members that hinges on in-person classroom visits. These observations, and the subsequent conversations about teaching they engender, are usually constructive and encouraging, but as teachers develop hybrid, online, and other multimodal classes, this system of evaluation does not offer sufficient flexibility for measuring the effectiveness of teaching or interaction outside of the synchronous, face-to-face classroom.

In this presentation, she describes Boise State’s efforts to develop and pilot new evaluation methods for online and hybrid courses, including informal adaptations of the established approach within the English department, as well as more formal university-wide initiatives through the eCampus Center. She outlines the challenges raised by evaluating multimodal courses, including the distinctions between course design and course delivery, especially since existing tools for course evaluation (including the Quality Matters rubric) focus exclusively on course design, not on teacher effectiveness.

While drawing on models from other institutions, Boise State is developing evaluation methods and forms that fit the needs of their institution. As they create instruments and approaches that allow them to measure the effectiveness of instruction in various settings, they also gain valuable insight into the many ways that students interact meaningfully with instructors and content in the 21st century “classroom.”

Contingency and Coffee at the Convention

Saturday, 9 January, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 502–503, JW Marriott

Have an issue you’d like to bring to the attention of the Committee on Contingent Labor in the Profession? Want to express concerns, share strategies, or chat about ideas? We are hosting a coffee break at the MLA convention in Austin, and we’d love to see you there. All engaged with issues of contingent labor in the profession, and especially part-time and non-tenure-track faculty members, are welcome to drop in for coffee, muffins, and camaraderie.

Unable to make it to Austin? We’d still love to hear from you. Drop us a line at clip@mla.org.

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