Published Date

May 1, 2003

Resource Type

AHA Archival Document, For Departments

AHA Topics

Academic Departmental Affairs, Professional Life

The below statement was approved by AHA Council in May 2003. 

At its semi-annual meeting on May 3-4, 2003, in Washington, DC, the Council of the Association voted to endorse the following standards for the use of part-time and adjunct faculty, which were prepared by the joint AHA-OAH permanent Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment.


The joint AHA-OAH permanent Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment has evolved from a series of temporary committees in recognition of the serious problems presented by the increased use of part-time/adjunct faculty at institutions across the country. This recognition has also motivated AHA and OAH to participate actively in the Coalition on the Academic Workforce. The Coalition was established in 1997 by a group of learned societies in the humanities and social sciences (including AHA and OAH). Its purposes are

  1. to collect and disseminate information on the use of part-time and contingent faculty and its implications for students, parents, faculty members, and institutions
  2. to articulate and clarify differences in the extent and consequences of changes in the faculty within and among the various academic disciplines
  3. to evaluate the consequences of these developments for achieving and maintaining quality higher education
  4. to evaluate both short-term and long-term consequences for society and the public good of changes in the academic workforce
  5. to identify and promote strategies for solving the problems created by inappropriate use of part-time, adjunct, and similar faculty appointments
  6. to strengthen teaching and scholarship. Historians are taking important leadership roles on this issue and the Committee has worked hard to provide our professional organizations with input and direction.

Our report submitted to AHA and OAH last spring indicated that increased use and exploitation of part-time/adjunct faculty as substitutes for full-time faculty is detrimental to institutions, departments, students, and the part-time/adjunct faculty themselves. The committee recommends limiting institutional use of part-time/adjunct faculty when this is not justified by academic needs. We also advocate providing standards that insure fair treatment and support necessary for faculty to do their jobs. We support the many highly qualified, dedicated, and effective part-time and adjunct historians who contribute to our profession.

Institutions relying on excessive numbers of part-time/adjunct faculty lose the quality of life that draws men and women to the academy. Departments become bus depots rather than collegial meeting places. Department chair persons know that the reputation of their departments within their institutions decline in direct proportion to the number of part-time/adjuncts employed. These faculty are often forced to spend much of their time commuting from job to job. Many do not have enough time to prepare courses, to meet with students, do not have access to libraries, computers, clerical assistance, office space, and the other necessities of instruction. Students are harmed by this as well. Part-time faculty often cannot help them with advising, career planning, and letters of recommendation. Part-time/adjuncts left out of the essential tasks of self-government that distinguish academic departments from corporate offices and denied the basics of institutional identity, justifiably feel aggrieved. Meanwhile, full-time faculty are left with an increasing burden of service and administrative responsibilities.

Everyone in the historical profession has a stake in ameliorating this situation. It is important to halt the erosion of tenure track positions, and where possible to increase them. It is equally important to improve the working conditions and lives of part-time/adjunct faculty and their ability to support student learning.


I. That part-time faculty be included in the collegial relations and communications of their departments and be provided with

  • Clearly stated evaluation procedures that include a defined probationary period
  • Seniority for hiring and pay raises after the probationary period
  • Office space, phones, access to computers and libraries, photocopying, and parking, clerical and technological support (when available to full-time faculty)
  • Eligibility for grants to attend conferences and workshops (on the same basis as full-time faculty)
  • Access to basic benefits (such as health and life insurance, sick leave, and retirement plans). Health benefits particularly should be universally available proportional to employment, with an opportunity provided for co-payments to ensure full coverage

II. That history departments provide an accurate statistical report to the AHA-OAH Joint Committee, to accrediting organizations, and to the public, showing the number of part-time/adjunct faculty. This includes providing

  • the actual number of full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty;
  • the number and percentage of history courses taught by full-time and by part-time/adjunct faculty respectively;
  • the length of employment of part-time/adjunct faculty.

For the purpose of statistical reporting, 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/adjunct faculty.

That history departments specify the criteria or priorities governing the hiring and retention of part-time/adjunct faculty.

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

  • Community Colleges: 30 percent; 40 percent maximum
  • Four-Year Institutions: 10 percent; 20 percent maximum
  • Research Institutions: 20 percent; 30 percent maximum

These levels reflect existing variations among different types of institutions shown in a number of studies, and improve on existing use by moving to lower percentages.

IV. That the pay scale for part-time faculty be set at a minimum of 80 percent of what a full-time faculty member of comparable training and experience would be paid for teaching a course at that particular institution. (Research institutions will have to modify these standards according to their actual practices, taking into account the large amount of time their faculty spend on research and writing.) This assumes that the part-time/adjunct 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 per course; if 10 courses a year, the pay should be $3,200 per course. The amount paid should be increased over time to recognize years in service.

V. History departments should undertake to meet these standards and will be commended for substantial progress and good practices in the AHA and OAH newsletters.

Additional Request for AHA Council Action

The AHA/OAH Joint Committee on Part-Time and Adjunct Employment requests that the OAH Executive Board/AHA Council vote on the following action. We believe that this action has potential for moving for change in many places and without major long-range organizational effort.

That the OAH Executive Board/AHA Council contact all college accrediting organizations and all journals and media that list colleges and universities by various criteria and ask them to include the following information in their reports:

  • number and percentage of part-time/adjunct faculty
  • number and percentage of courses taught by part-time/adjunct faculty

This is a matter of public information to which prospective students and their families are entitled as a matter of consumer protection.