Publication Date

October 1, 2002

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

The Joint AHA-OAH Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment has been working on the thorny issue of historians who teach part time. Last spring the committee designed a questionnaire to better determine who the part-time teachers are, and to document the problems they face. The results of the survey are summarized and discussed in the article by Robert Townsend and Miriam Hauss that appears on pages 17-20.

The committee has also been working on a report to both organizations, summarizing what the increased use of part-time faculty means for those who teach part time, the institutions that employ them, and their students. While the use of part-time faculty increases the depth and breadth of coverage for some history departments, and fills the need and desire of a number of historians to teach part time, it is clear that this comes at a heavy cost for all involved. As part of its effort to address the problems faced by those teaching part time, the committee has drafted a series of recommendations aimed at promoting greater equity. The committee's draft is presented here to enable AHA and OAH members to provide comments and suggestions before the committee formulates its final report and recommendations, expected to be presented to the two organizations in January 2003.

Communications sent to either Miriam Hauss or will be forwarded to the committee.

—, Chair, Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment

The Joint AHA-OAH Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment makes the following recommendations:

I. That history departments provide an accurate statistical report to the AHA-OAH Joint Committee, accrediting organizations, and the public, showing the number of part-time faculty. This includes providing (1) the actual numbers of full-time and part-time faculty; (2) the percentage of history courses taught by full-time and by part-time faculty respectively; (3) the length of employment of part-time faculty. (For this purpose, graduate students teaching independent courses—where they are the instructors and are responsible for lectures and running the course—are to be counted as part-time faculty.) 1

II. That the following standards be recognized as the appropriate proportion for courses taught by part-time faculty (including graduate students): 2

  • Community Colleges: 30 percent as a best practice, 40 percent maximum;
  • Four-Year Institutions: 10 percent as a best practice, 20 percent maximum;
  • Research Institutions: 20 percent as a best practice, 30 percent maximum. 3

III. That the pay scale for part-time faculty be set at a minimum of 80 percent of what a full-time faculty member would be paid for teaching a course at that particular institution. This assumes that the part-time faculty member does not have administrative duties, serve on institutional committees, do advising, or supervise independent research projects or internships. If those duties are included pay should be 100 percent equivalent. This would mean, for example, that if an assistant professor teaches six courses and is paid $40,000 a year, the per-course payment for a part-time faculty person should be—at the 80 percent rate—$5,300 per course; if the salary was the same and the course load was 8 courses a year the pay should be $4,000 a course; if 10 courses a year the pay should be $3,200 per course. 4 The amount paid should be increased over time to recognize years in service. 5

IV. That part-time faculty be provided with:

  • Clearly stated evaluation procedures that include a defined probationary period.
  • Seniority for hiring and pay raises (after that probationary period).
  • Orientation programs explaining school services and expectations (institutional and departmental).
  • Office space, phones, access to computers and libraries, photocopying, and parking.
  • Secretarial and technological support-when this is available to full-time faculty.
  • Eligibility for grants to attend conferences and workshops-when available to full-time faculty (on the same basis as full-time faculty).
  • Access to fringe benefits (health and life insurance, sick leave, and retirement plans). Health benefits particularly should be available proportional to employment, with an opportunity provided for copayments to ensure full coverage.6

V. History departments that fall below these standards will be labeled as substandard. Those that meet them will be commended for their best practices.


1. Not including graduate students will seriously distort the figures and misrepresent the number of courses taught by full-time faculty.

2. In suggesting these percentages, the committee tried to strike a balance by setting levels lower than those currently implemented—and thus recommending that they should be reduced-but not so low as to entirely eliminate the possibility of part-time employment, especially for those who may, for one reason or another, prefer such employment.

3. Ernest Benjamin’s article in New Directions for Higher Education (Winter 1998) showed history departments at 55 percent part time for community colleges, 29 percent for four-year institutions, and 37 percent overall. The most recent AAUP recommendation suggests 15 percent for an institution as a whole and a 25 percent total in a particular department. Robert Townsend, "The State of the History Department: A Report on the Annual Department Survey for AY 1999–2000,"Perspectives 39:8 (November 2001), 3-6, showed c.25 percent part-time faculty overall for history in 1999-2000. But this clearly underreports figures for community colleges and graduate students.

4. This in effect provides a scale that takes into account the differences in teaching load at community colleges, four-year colleges, and research institutions.

5. This should reflect increases paid to full-time faculty at the same institution.

6. Many of these are included in the “Standards for Good Practice in the Employment of Part-time Faculty” issued by the American Federation of Teachers: see the Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2002.

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