There are at least two posts on the AAA website advertising non-tenure-track assistant professorships, both of which hedge the language by calling for assistant professor/instructor or assistant professor/fellow, but neither of which specifies "visiting" in the title.

Another discursive marker in the slide toward the casualisation of academic labour?

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Not to be too critical of the system I hope to get a permanent job from (and perhaps I am too cynical at my relatively junior stage) - but it seems to be all about covering / reducing $ costs.

We could take one step back and address one-class contracts (sessional instructors). Clearly admin types see no other benefit than saving 55-65% in wages when hiring a sessional instructor (if the sessional instructor teaches same number of classes as a new permanent tenure stream Assistant Professor, this saving is even higher when compared to tenured Associate or Full professors). This estimated saving does not include benefits or pensions.

Short term non-tenure-track assistant professors also are slightly cheaper (saving of somewhere in the range of 10-20%) and usually have higher than tenure-track teaching demands (in addition to service and research expectations) so are more cost effective. The benefits of hiring a tenure stream rather than short term position could/should be considered as more than a simple salary $ decision - these positions bring: mentoring of current students; the ability to generate more anth graduates (through "conversion" and challenging students to excel); supervision of honours, masters and PhD thesis; specialized reading courses in addition to regular teaching load; the potential of research monies; committee work (at departmental and University and community levels) that keep the system working; innovation and improved practice; representation of the University in the community, at conferences, through funding applications and research practices; collegiality and support for the Faculty and students in the Dept and within the University (especially important in an era of interdisciplinary research). The list could go on.

But the bottom line is a $$ decision where admin directs the tone of hiring practices (even in situations where Dept's have control over who their preferred candidate / area would be). This all leads to a sense that we, as reserve army types, are totally expendable / replaceable unless we hold a permanent / tenure stream position, and that we should feel lucky/grateful for any work we can get in both the latter stages of PhD and recently completed PhD life.

I know I strive (and am fairly successful) to be an "added value" asset to any department that I work in. But it is difficult to balance my internal conflict between working to support my department and being exploited by the system / University in which the department is situated.

As a corollary, I have not met one Dept Chair or even senior academic that would not prefer permanent tenure position(s) to a series of sessional instructors or short-term non tenure positions, even when their current Reserve Army workers are excellent. But Dept's don't really have control over their budgets!

The bottom line for Uni admin types in tough economic times, seems to be about reducing salary costs while attempting to maintain / not-impair academic quality. Is this working for others in the OAC?




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