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September 21, 2023

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Faculty push for long-term contracts

The BGSU Faculty Association hosted an event in the Union Thursday to draw attention to the different types of faculty at the University and the issues they face.

The event fit into the Halloween season, as students could bob for apples to learn about the different faculty. BGSU-FA members dressed as Rosie the Riveter also handed out treats.

The event was part of Campus Equity Week, a nationally-recognized event to call attention to the working conditions and concerns of faculty members not on the track for tenure. Campus Equity Week was started by the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a grassroots coalition of activists working for contingent faculty.

The goal for the faculty association is to push the administration to increase job security by granting long-term contracts with a reasonable expectation of promotion, said David Jackson, faculty association president and an associate professor in the Department of Political Science.

Today, 75 percent of higher-education faculty are working on short-term contracts.

Approximately 33 percent of the University’s full-time faculty are not tenure-track. The University also hires part-time adjunct faculty who have no access to benefits available to full-time faculty.

“We’re really worried about the job instability of non-tenure-track faculty and the way that affects students’ success at BGSU,” said Jamie Stuart, the non-tenure-track faculty representative for the faculty association and an instructor in the Department of Ethnic Studies.

This could mean larger classes with fewer faculty and a decrease in retention as students can’t find mentors and professional references, Jackson said. Faculty with secure positions have more ability to foster relationships with students.

“They have more time to spend with students because they’re able to commit themselves to an institution for the long term,” Jackson said.

Faculty with job stability are also allowed academic freedom to research and say what they want, he said.

The purpose was also to educate students on the different types of faculty members there are, Jackson said.

“There seems to be an assumption that all faculty are in the same position,” he said.

In fact, the faculty includes adjunct, part-time, non-tenured, and graduate teaching faculty.

The administration reduced faculty by more than 70 this year, and the BGSU-FA contends there is reason to believe more are on the way. The University budget saw a $2.5 million shortfall this year.

A further $6-7 million shortfall is projected for next year due to a decrease in funding from the State Share of Instruction, the formula used to distribute the bulk of state money provided to Ohio’s public universities.

This trend isn’t unique to the University. Many universities are turning to part-time labor, said Amy Fry, faculty association treasurer and a librarian at Jerome Library.

“You can’t run [higher education] programs without full-time dedicated faculty who are getting benefits,” Fry said.

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