Letter to the editor

Dear President Ann Weaver Hart,

As you know, the vital contributions of adjuncts and non-tenure track faculty are gaining nationwide attention. And yet, many of these instructors live near or below the poverty line. Both the student body and the Arizona economy suffer when non-tenure track faculty — 40 percent of all UA instructors — work for low wages and lack job security. As a matter of institutional effectiveness, we ask you to increase support for the university’s most vulnerable faculty.

We invite you to join us on Alumni Plaza from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. today, National Adjunct Walkout Day, for a teach-in promoting livable wages, multi-year contracts and smaller class sizes. We hope you will join UA faculty, staff and students in this historic event.

This year, the UA is facing another budget cut, as are many of its peers. Even in difficult circumstances, other universities have begun to acknowledge the value of non-tenure track faculty and to improve their working conditions, and we encourage you to do the same. We appreciate your efforts in Never Settle to “recognize and support non-tenure track faculty,” and we are eager for change.

Above all, we are committed to our students, even as the amount of credit hours we generate far exceeds our compensation. For example, NTT faculty in the department of English teach over 100 writing-intensive courses to 2,500 students each semester. These instructors have one-year contracts or less and earn just $33,050 a year when they teach full-time. 

At our Arizona Board of Regents peer institutions, English adjuncts make 30 percent more while class sizes are 20 percent smaller. Many of our instructors are UA alumni who have not had a raise in over 10 years, not even a cost-of-living adjustment. To address these inequities, we have met with our department head and dean, and have voiced our concerns to the board of regents and the UA’s CFO.

Recently, you recommended that budgetary decisions should focus on “the UA’s core mission.” According to the NTT Task Force, “non-tenure track faculty are mission-critical, contributing in a variety of significant ways to the teaching, research/innovation, and outreach/impact goals of the institution.” 

Until fair wages and job security exist for all faculty who teach foundational courses, we are undermining our core mission and shortchanging our students.

As far as possible solutions, granting job security through multi-year contracts costs relatively little and improves the quality of instruction, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Additionally, class-size reductions benefit the university in the U.S. News rankings, and competitive pay attracts world-class faculty.

We ask you to lead with a symbolic act and do what several university presidents have done: Forego your bonus this year in support of our financially overburdened students and non-tenure track faculty.

President Hart, our great university has an opportunity to set the standard for equitable treatment of adjuncts and non-tenure track faculty. Only then might the UA become, as you boldly stated in the 2014 Financial Report, “a world leader in developing better answers to our biggest and most pressing questions.” We look forward to meeting with you soon.

Sincerely,

Committed and Concerned NTT Faculty

The University of Arizona


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