From the AHA Activities column in the May 2001 Perspectives

Report from Committee on Part-Time and Adjunct Employment

Maxine Lurie, May 2001

In January 1999, Robert Darnton, then president of the AHA, appointed an ad hoc Committee on Part-Time and Adjunct Employment to begin looking at the problem of part-time employment in the historical profession and how the AHA could contribute to a solution. A year later, his successor, Eric Foner, appointed what was envisioned as an expanded and permanent committee. After initially working via e-mail, the committee met for the first time at the AHA annual meeting in Boston in January 2001. Representatives from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) also met with the group. The committee is now in the process of becoming a joint AHA-OAH committee that will continue collecting information on part-time employees and make recommendations to both organizations. It will propose ways the organizations can try to combat the proliferation of part-time employment, improve the conditions of work and scholarly opportunities of those employed part-time, and enable such historians to play a larger role in the life of the profession.

Members of the ad hoc committee are: for the AHA, Eric Foner, Maxine N. Lurie, John Summers, Valerie Ramseyer, Carolyn Eisenberg, Gerda Lerner, David Slavin, John Recchiuti, William Pacquette, Barbara Ramusack, Charles Zappia, and Arnita Jones, and for the OAH, David Montgomery, Lee Formwalt, Gloria Miranda, and Juli Jones.

Since being organized, the committee has made several recommendations to the AHA Council, including that it make an effort to provide reduced rate benefits (health and life) and urge grant agencies to include part-timers in fellowships programs. The committee proposed a resolution adopted at the AHA Business Meeting in January, expressing concern at the growth of part-time employment and stating that history departments "should not continue the growing tendency to replace permanent lines with part-time, adjunct, and graduate student lines," and that they should provide to those they do hire part-time "a reasonable salary, health and retirement benefits, library privileges, office space, and computer access." In response to the committee's suggestion, the AHA for the first time held a reception at annual meeting for part-time faculty, an event that will become a regular feature. The purpose is to enable part-time faculty to meet members of the committee and each other, and to ensure that they feel a part of the profession. To facilitate a similar exchange, the committee also sponsored a chat session at the OAH annual meeting in Los Angeles in April.

Although the number of part-time faculty has increased dramatically in the last few years, this form of employment has existed for a long time. The creation of this committee signifies that historians' professional organizations are now paying attention to issues that concerned many but had hitherto been swept under the proverbial rug.

—Maxine Lurie, co-chair, Committee on Part-Time and Adjunct Employment