The primary mission of Barnard College is to teach undergraduates, and all members of the Barnard faculty perform this essential work. However, Barnard administrations have over many years instituted an often incoherent and inherently unfair hierarchy. Thus, even though the faculty across the categories below have the same excellent credentials and teach the same students in the same classrooms, studios, and labs with the same dedication, often in the exact same courses, there are significant differences in pay, benefits, authority, and recognition.
What is “contingent faculty”? We use the definition promulgated by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the most respected college and university faculty organization: contingent faculty, whether part-time or full-time, are those not on the tenure-track. At Barnard the tenure-track faculty is often referred to as “on-ladder,” where the “ladder” refers to a clear succession of ranks (from untenured assistant professor to tenured associate professor to tenured full professor) that are ascended within a predictable time frame with full institutional support. The contingent faculty is called “off-ladder,” because there is no clear succession of “rungs” to be promoted into, no possibility of tenure, little job security (in the case of adjuncts, no job security), and limited to no institutional support for professional development as a scholar, scientist, or artist.
Barnard Faculty, Academic Year 2014-2015
NOTE: Numbers above are compiled from an official college filing to the NLRB, salary information available to all full-time faculty, the college website, and college responses to union information requests, and are subject to possible inaccuracies in those sources. These categories do not include 91 individuals at the rank of T.A. or Grader, who are not included in the contingent faculty but also perform essential academic work for the college.
The Barnard Contingent Faculty union was formed to address and reform this fractured system and help current and future college administrations institute fair policies that prioritize the college’s commitment to teaching and learning at all levels. As the AAUP argues, under current practices “excessive use of, and inadequate compensation and professional support for, contingent faculty exploits these colleagues” and inevitably damages the student learning experience and weakens the institutional culture of academic freedom.
A union contract for the contingent faculty is a necessary step in addressing these structural problems. This is a fact recognized by our colleagues across the country, including contingent faculty at NYU, the New School, Duke University, the University of Chicago, Tufts University, and many more. To read about these issues in a national context, please visit our library of “Readings on Contingency.”