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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Truth About UMB’s Part-Time Faculty

An editorial published on 11/20/03 decries the use of part-time faculty on the UMass-Boston campus. Unfortunately, the piece was based on information taken from the AAUP’s national website. A look at the actual facts shows that the author’s concerns are based on false beliefs about UMB part-timers.

One of the main issues raised is the availability of part-time vs. full-time faculty for contact-for office hours in particular. Using the AAUP’s statistics, the author estimates that 8% of the (part-time) faculty here “might not offer office hours for their students.” But this is simply not true. All faculty, where full or part-time, are contractually obligated to offer one hour per week of office hours for every course taught. So there is no reason to think that students are not getting sufficient contact time out of part-time faculty.

Moreover, it is worth understanding that most of UMB’s part-time faculty do not fit the common stereotype of part-timers as inexperienced, temporary instructors. Many of the current part-timers have 10, 20 or even 30 or more years of experience here; so they typically have much more teaching experience than junior full-time faculty. The majority of these part-timers specialize in teaching introductory courses; they are able to concentrate fully on teaching whereas most full timers are (appropriately) caught up in research projects and the demands of service work. (This may also actually make them more accessible than some full-time faculty). Finally, note that over the last few years, a good number of so-called part-timers have been hired at 75% or 100% time, teaching 3 or 4 courses per semester. (So the label “part-timer” is now somewhat of a misnomer-a more appropriate distinction is between tenure stream and non-tenure stream faculty.) Finally, as the piece notes, most non-tenure stream faculty are receiving decent salaries and many are also receiving benefits. So we have non-tenure stream faculty who are quality, experienced teachers, who are adequately paid and benefited and who are as available as any other faculty members are. There’s no reason to think that this is harming students.

Larry KayeFSU