AHA Launches Surveys on Part-Time Teaching

Pillarisetti Sudhir, December 1999

Continuing its commitment to an extended exploration of all aspects of part-time and adjunct teaching, the AHA has recently launched two surveys designed to elicit information from teachers and departments. The Association has engaged with this problem in several significant ways over the past five years (see, for instance, the January 1998 Perspectives that contains analyses of the AHA cosponsored conference on part-time and adjunct teaching, and the "Guidelines for the Employment of Part-Time and Temporary Faculty in History," published in the November 1998 Perspectives; electronic texts of these articles may be obtained by searching in the Perspectives archive at http://www.theaha.org/ perspectives).

The two surveys now underway are intended to get just such essential data. One, designed by the Professional Division of the AHA, is aimed at individual teachers and intended, inter alia, to collect information about the working conditions of historians who occupy part-time and/or temporary positions. This survey questionnaire has been broadcast over the H-Net listservs and also been sent to part-time teachers who are members of the AHA. The second survey, aimed at departments, is a more ambitious enterprise.

This project originated in the AHA-convened Conference on Growing Use of Part-Time and Adjunct Faculty held in September 1997 and the consequent formation of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce.

The survey will be conducted in collaboration with nine other learned societies—the American Anthropological Association, the American Philological Association, the American Philosophical Association, the College Art Association, the Linguistic Society of America, the Modern Languages Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society for Cinema Studies. Designed to collect information about the staffing of undergraduate programs in the humanities with particular reference to the growing use of part-time teachers, the survey will focus on questions such as the nature of compensation and institutional support given to part-time teachers and the instructional roles of part-time faculty members. The survey is built on a representative sample of higher education institutions including two-year colleges.

It is expected that the collaborative nature of the survey will yield data that can be reasonably compared across disciplinary boundaries, and at the same time achieve significant savings in administrative costs. The results of the survey will be publicized in fall 2000.

Overseeing these surveys and other AHA activities relating to part-time teaching is the new ad hoc Committee on Adjunct and Part-Time Teaching, chaired by President-elect Eric Foner. Other members of the committee are Barbara Ramusack (Univ. of Cincinnati), John Summers (Univ. of Rochester), and Charles Zappia (San Diego Mesa Coll.).

—Pillarisetti Sudhir