At its January meeting, the AHA Council endorsed a new study from the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW) that calls on college and university faculty and administrators to assure that all teachers at their institutions are treated as professionals. Representing a consensus of 15 disciplinary and professional associations, the report concludes that “[i]f we are to maintain a world-class system of higher education and help all students achieve success, we must have a strong faculty with the support necessary to carry out its professional responsibilities.”
Citing the long term decline in the proportion of college and university faculty in full-time tenure-track positions, the “One Faculty Serving All Students” issue brief calls for reducing reliance on faculty employed in short-term appointments while improving the compensation and benefits of contingent faculty. The brief maintains that all faculty members should earn salaries and support commensurate with their professional status, and that administrators and faculty should be proactive in gathering information about staffing in their departments and institutions so they can better advocate for improved employment practices.
These recommendations may seem a bit unrealistic, given the current fiscal crisis in higher education, but the members of the coalition believe that the time to think about these issues is now. Assuming the financial squeeze will begin to dissipate in the next few years, departments will need to be positioned to assure that faculty lost due to attrition and hiring freezes over the past two years are replaced by fairly compensated tenure-line faculty.
The members of the AHA Council endorsed these principles, but also called on history departments to follow the more specific (and in some case, more rigorous) policies approved in the Standards for the Use of Part-time and Adjunct Faculty endorsed by the AHA Council in 2003.
The Association continues to monitor these issues as part of its regular data collection efforts, while supporting the multidisciplinary advocacy efforts of the CAW.