Contingent Commitments: Bringing Part-Time Faculty Into Focus

All part-time faculty should be integrated into the life of the institution. Part-time faculty should not be expected to exist as a separate community, as shadows on the periphery of the institution; chroniclers of the part-time faculty experience report that they too frequently inhabit a much different world than that of their full-time colleagues. — ROUECHE, ROUECHE, & MILLIRON, 1995, P. 156


 

Increasingly, contingent faculty have become a fundamental feature of the economic model that sustains community college education. Because they typically have lower pay levels than fulltime faculty and receive minimal, if any, benefits, part-time faculty are institutions’ least expensive way to deliver instruction. As public funding, as a percentage of college costs, has steadily declined—and as colleges have been forced to find ways to contain costs so they can sustain college access—the proportion of part-time faculty has grown at colleges across the country. Today part-time faculty far outnumber full-time faculty at most colleges. 

For the past three years, the Center for Community College Student Engagement has listened systematically to part-time faculty and their full-time colleagues, including faculty, staff, and administrators. This report, which draws in part on 32 focus groups with these individuals, aims to help colleges improve engagement with part-time faculty so more students have access to the experiences that will lead to success. 

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