The Plight of Part-Time Faculty

Ann McClure's picture

Part-time faculty play a vital role in university life. They teach large intro courses and classes; they are more likely to teach evening classes, which provides flexibility in course scheduling and attracts students who work during the day; and they accept last-minute teaching assignments when campuses add new class sections due to high student demand.

Part-time faculty are also a significant part of the higher ed workforce, accounting for 700,000 of the 1.8 million faculty at U.S. two- and four-year schools. Yet, part-time faculty lack access to important campus resources and the support they need to be most effective in their work.

Colleges and universities offer part-time faculty little or no job security; limited professional development opportunities; few resources to engage students; late course assignments; and low pay.

Research from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Center for the Future of Higher Education suggests that part-time faculty lack access to basic resources that most professionals take for granted: office space, a computer, and campus phone/voicemail. Just two out of every five part-time faculty report having a campus-provided computer, and more than a third don’t have access to an office, shared or private, according to the 2010-2011 HERI Faculty Report (, a triennial survey that documents the faculty experience.

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