A Review of Web Sites for Contingent FacultyReview by James C. McDonald
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
A number of faculty unions, professional associations, and textbook publishers have recently created Web sites primarily for contingent faculty. Most of these sites encourage and support political activity to improve working conditions for adjunct faculty, while others are function as resources on teaching.
As long-standing faculty associations such as the CCCC, the MLA, and the AAUP have begun devoting more attention and resources to the nationwide overreliance on poorly paid non-tenure-track faculty in colleges and universities, contingent faculty have been forming their own unions and professional associations. Both kinds of associations have found the Internet a valuable organizational and informational tool, especially in organizing events like Campus Equity Week to encourage faculty across the continent to stage political activities and publicity events.
At the same time, textbook publishers are coming to see contingent faculty as an important but largely unaddressed market who select textbooks, use classroom technology and on-line resources, and contribute to textbook selection committees. Still, they are a faculty who may have different needs and priorities than other faculty. Several publishing companies have opened Web pages while a number also support and advertise on the Adjunct Nation Web site in an attempt to reach this market.
1. Contingent Faculty Association Web Sites (the CPFA Forum; Boston COCAL; Chicago COCAL; and the
MATC Part Time Teachers Union; and the Campus Equity Week Web Site, which
supports an event spearheaded by part-time faculty associations)
2. Other Faculty Association Web Sites (the Coalition on the Academic Workforce; the
CCCC Part-time and Adjunct Issues Starter Kit; the AAUP Non-Tenure-Track
Faculty Web Pages; and the AFT Higher Education Part-Time/Adjunct Faculty Web Pages)
3. Textbook Publisher Web Sites and (Semi-)Sponsored Adjunct Web Sites (Adjunct
Nation; Houghton Mifflin's Adjuncts.com; Bedford/St. Martin's Lore: An E-Journal for
Teachers of College Writing; and Allyn & Bacon/Longman's Adjunct Genie)
4. Other Web Sites (Workplace: The Journal for Academic Labor and Contingency Plan)
Contingent Faculty Association Web Sites
These Web sites are the most useful for organizing faculty and planning demonstrations and other political actions and publicity events. Some of the information in the CPFA Forum and in the Web sites for Boston COCAL, Chicago COCAL, and the MATC Part Time Teachers Union, of course, are only of interest to members of these contingent faculty associations, but even here these Web sites can function as models for Web sites for other adjunct faculty associations. Most readers will be interested in these Web sites for the news, data, advice, and materials that they provide for organizing part-time faculty. The Campus Equity Week Web site, spearheaded by COCAL, is the most useful source for organizing faculty around adjunct faculty issues.
Campus Equity Week (http://www.cewaction.org)
The Campus Equity Week Web site is perhaps the richest on-line resource for organizing contingent faculty. Its central purpose is to provide support for individuals and organizations planning demonstrations, teach-ins, and other publicity and organizational activities for Campus Equity Week (sponsored or endorsed by at least 29 sponsoring faculty unions and associations, including the CCCC and TESOL, to call attention to adjunct faculty working conditions in the U.S. and Canada). The Web site provides a wealth of resources that adjunct organizations can use and adapt--press releases, petitions, position statements, codes of conduct, editorial cartoons, picket signs, political skits, songs, bibliographies, and information for obtaining video documentaries about adjunct issues. Because Campus Equity Week depends on local efforts, many of its resources are valuable for campuses planning events at other times of the year.
Recently redesigned for Campus Equity Week 2003, October 27-31, cewaction.org retains a good archive of material from the last Campus Equity Week in 2001 and provides dozens of contacts to trainers, local organizers, and more than one hundred participating campuses as well as links to the Web sites of its sponsoring associations and information about the CEW listserv. Chris Storer, the site manager, frequently updates cewaction.org and, in fact, updated the Web site almost daily in the weeks preceding CEW 2001 with new materials, information about plans and activities at different campuses, links to news articles, announcements about relevant conferences, and news about state legislative activities and lawsuits. After Campus Equity Week, the Web site continued to track events and new activities supporting contingent faculty and provided resources for follow-up efforts. Because this Web site depends on the contributions of campus organizers, at the time of this review, in May, some of the links to web pages about campus plans for CEW 2003, provided no information, probably because many campuses will not decide on their activities until later in the year, and some of the campus contact information was in need of updating. Some of the news and information on the Web site supports other faculty organizing efforts, especially anti-war efforts.
CPFA Forum of the California Part-Time Faculty Association (http://www.cpfa.org)
The CPFA Forum is the Web site of the California Part-Time Faculty Association and has a lot of material that contingent faculty interested in forming their own association would find helpful, including a mission statement, a constitution, by-laws, descriptions of offices in the association, a history of the association, and even a FAQ for cyber-volunteers who are willing to help maintain the Web site. The CPFA Forum also includes a long list of "Resources for Activists." While some of these resources (links to the California Education Code and California state legislators, information about legislation and about unemployment benefits), are useful mainly to contingent faculty in California, some of the resources can be helpful to contingent faculty in other states, such as the links to higher education listservs and to general academic resources (including the Activists Handbook on protest.net) and a glossary of acronyms in higher education. Similarly, some of the twelve announcements and reports published on the Web site may be of limited interest outside California, except perhaps to stimulate questions about laws and policies affecting contingent faculty in other states. But some of this material--such as the essays "Why I won't meet with you outside of class" and "Adjunct Instructors, the Burros of Academia"--deal with themes of interest to many adjunct faculty. The site even includes a table of "best practices" that compares the salaries, benefits, and hiring and rehiring practices of ten California community colleges. It is clear to see how this information can be valuable to job seekers and to activists who want to compare policies on other campuses in their arguments and publicity. Furthermore, visitors to the Web site who want further information are directed to the CPFA listserv as well as to an email address for the CPFA.
Boston Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (http://omega.cc.umb.edu/~cocal)
"We are a group of activists dedicated to improving the status of so-called 'part-time' and other adjunct faculty in the Boston area," begins the text on the first page of the Web site for the Boston Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor. Of the four Web sites run by contingent faculty associations, the Boston COCAL site contains the most useful information for contingent outside Massachusetts and is the easiest to navigate. The first page of the Web site has impossible-to-miss links to a description of the program of the Boston COCAL, an eloquent statement of purpose that can be mined for arguments on other campuses, news, articles, links to relevant sites and the national COCAL listserv, and a reassuring essay by Larry Kaye entitled "How to Become a Successful Activist." Boston COCAL's ten-point program to guide contingent faculty working conditions has been an important guide for part-time faculty trying to establish policies of ethical working conditions on their campuses. Most of the articles include news about contingent faculty activities in Boston taken from various sources or written by faculty, but the articles section also includes editorials and essays such as a My Turn piece from Newsweek entitled "The Full-Time Stress of Part-Time Professors" by a former adjunct teacher of first-year composition.
Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (http://www.chicagococal.org/)
The Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor Web site is an excellent resource of useful information and links, the most extensive Web site of the four part-time faculty associations here. The news section is one of the best in all the adjunct faculty Web sites, with a long listing of articles, a brief summary of each article, and either a link to the article or a print citation. The articles provide news and opinions about relevant Illinois legislation and graduate student actions and about contingent faculty labor situations throughout the U. S. and Canada. Readers are sometimes invited to write letters to the editor in response to a controversial editorial or, more often, to contact state representatives and friends about bills before the Illinois legislature. Chicago COCAL also has a number of resources for organizing contingent faculty, including a 2002 dissertation by Joe Berry entitled "Contingent Faculty in Higher Education: An Organizing Strategy and Chicago Area Proposal" and a strategy paper by Tom Suhrbur, an organizer in the Illinois Education Association.
In addition, the Web site has links to a number of reports, position statements, and press releases by other associations such as the American Federation of Teachers, the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions, the AAUP, the CAW, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, as well as an annotated bibliography by Robert Pankin and Carla Weiss. There are links to the Web sites of these associations as well as to six contingent faculty associations and two full-time faculty unions in Illinois, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois Education Association, and various campuses in the Chicago area. You can also find links to the Campaign for Better Health Care; to the Chicago Steward, a union newsletter; and to Fairjobs.org, a Web site of the North American Alliance for Fair Employment (NAAFE), a network of associations that are concerned about contingent labor in all fields. Chicago COCAL also keeps readers abreast of activities and decisions of recent national COCAL conferences.
Madison (WI) Area Technical College (MATC) Part Time Teachers Union (http://www.ptunion.org)
The MATC Web site is the simplest and least extensive of the four Web sites for part-time faculty associations. Its simplicity is not surprising given its smaller constituency. Yet the Web site does provide a constitution, a newsletter, and a brief but effective four-point description of working conditions for part-time faculty that may be helpful models for other associations. It also includes updates on contract negotiations and grievances. Further, the MATC Web site has two particularly informative features: 1) a Legislation Around the Country Web page which reports on legislative initiatives affecting part-time faculty around the country, in particular in Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington State, and 2) the results of a 2001 survey of the part-time faculty at Madison Area Technical College. Finally, the Web site also provides links to several unions and the association listserv.
Other Professional Association Web Sites
The following four Web sites are sponsored by academic associations with missions that include but are not limited to contingent faculty issues. The Council of College Composition and Communication, of course, has had a long-standing interest in part-time faculty issues because the vast majority of composition teachers in higher education are not in tenure-track positions, and the CCCC Part-time and Adjunct Issues Starter Kit is part of the Web site of the National Council of Teachers of English. The American Association of University Professors has long been the most prominent advocate for faculty in higher education and gives a substantial part of the AAUP Web site to contingent faculty matters. The American Federation of Teachers , according to its Web site, "is the leading organizer of part-time faculty in the United States" and "represents almost 45,000 part-time faculty, more than any other union," and the AFT Higher Education Part-Time/Adjunct Faculty Web site is an extensive source of information, position statements, and guidelines for organizing faculty. These three contingent faculty Web sites contain advice for organizing faculty, data and analysis about the reliance of contingent faculty in higher education and their working conditions, and contact information for those who want more information and help with organizing. The Coalition on the Academic Workforce was formed by 25 academic associations, including the AAUP and many of the central disciplinary associations in the humanities and social sciences. The CAW Web site, which can be found in the Web pages of the American Historical Society is primarily an informational Web site, with data about faculty employment patterns and working conditions from a nationwide survey of eleven disciplines conducted in 1999. This data is also available on the Modern Languages Association of America Web site.
Coalition on the Academic Workforce (http://www.theaha.org/caw/index.htm)
The best on-line source of data about contingent faculty is probably the "Summary of Data from Surveys by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW)," which is located on the American Historical Association Web site, with another copy on the Modern Languages Association Web site under "Reports and Documents." The main difference between these two Web sites is that the AHA also includes the CAW's November 22, 2000 press release announcing the results of its surveys, as well as data specifically about history programs, while the MLA site provides more easily accessible publication information.
The "Summary of Data" analyzes the results of a 1999 national survey conducted by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, a coalition of the 25 academic associations, including the AAUP, the MLA, and the CCCC, and disciplinary societies representing anthropology, classics, film studies, folklore, foreign languages, history, linguistics, philosophy, and political science. The survey originated at the Conference on the Growing Use of Part-Time and Adjunct Faculty held in Washington, D. C. in September of 1997, which concluded that the generalizations about contingent faculty and their wording conditions were "based on often partial and incomplete data." For this survey, each association sent departments and programs in its discipline questionnaires seeking information about the numbers of permanent faculty, adjunct faculty, and graduate students that each program employs along with information about their salaries, benefits, computer access, and office space and the courses that each rank teaches. Seven societies, including MLA, which surveyed English departments, sent questionnaires to every department in their discipline, while four associations, including the CCCC, which surveyed free-standing writing programs, covered a representative sample of programs. (The CCCC report was published by the CCCC Committee on Part-time/Adjunct Issues under the title "Report on the Coalition on the Academic Workforce/CCCC Survey of Faculty in Freestanding Writing Programs for Fall 1999 CCC 53.2 [Dec. 2001]: 336-48.) The Web sites report the data in essay form and in four tables. One table compares the percentages of faculty in each field holding tenure-track and non-tenure-track positions (full-time and part-time) as well as graduate assistantships, while another compares the percentage of undergraduate courses taught by each type of instructor. The other two tables report on the benefits and salaries for part-time and non-tenure-track faculty.
CCCC Part-time and Adjunct Issues Starter Kit (http://www.ncte.org/cccc/parttime/index.shtml)
This "electronic organizing kit" compiled by the CCCC Committee on Contingent, Adjunct, and Part-time Faculty (PAC) is the one site that specifically designed to help adjunct composition teachers improve their working conditions, although most of the facts about contingent faculty, advice for organizing, samples of organizing materials, and links to Web sites are not specific to English or composition faculty. The CCCC site, however, does provide two good bibliographies that include a number of references and contact information specific to composition faculty, some basic information about the PAC committee, and contact information about the members of the PAC committee (although no email addresses). The site promises to soon provide links to newspaper articles and Web sources. Although other Web sites are more extensive, this is a good Web site to begin researching how to organize, with practical advice for a few activities, a well written article of facts about adjunct faculty, a short selection of organizing materials, and links to some of the most useful Web sites on adjunct faculty.
The CCCC 1989 "Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing" (currently being revised) can be found in another part of the NCTE/CCCC Web site. This statement, mandated by the Wyoming Resolution, sets standards for working conditions for composition faculty and administrators, with particular attention to non-tenure-track faculty and graduate assistants.
The AAUP Part-Time and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Web Page is a rich site for adjunct faculty organizers. The Web site provides readers with articles that give an historical analysis of the growth of contingent faculty in higher education as well as data and analysis about the current adjunct faculty situation, information about state legislation dealing with adjunct issues, guidelines for organizing faculty (as well as information about purchasing the AAUP publication Working for Academic Renewal: A Kit for Organizing on the Issues of Part-time and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty, and AAUP position statements that faculty can use to develop and support arguments with the public and education policy makers). The most valuable position statement here is the 1993 "Status of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty," developed by the AAUP Committee on Part-Time and Non-Tenure-Track Appointments, and faculty can order copies of an AAUP pamphlet based on that statement for distribution. The site also provides information about the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL) and Campus Equity Week, listservs for discussing adjunct faculty issues, and email links to the AAUP National Field Representative and others involved in organizing contingent faculty.
There is, of course, given AAUP's strong commitment to tenure, more discussion of defending tenure on this site and little recognition of contingent faculties attempts to work with administrations to develop policies for improving their job security outside of tenure compared to some other Web sites. Ernst Benjamin's "Improving Teaching: Tenure Is Not the Problem, It's the Solution," originally published in 1997 in the AAUP journal Footnotes, makes a strong argument that the erosion of tenure and increasing reliance on part-time faculty as higher education's response to the problem of decreasing state appropriations are responsible for the public crisis of confidence in higher education. Although arguments like Benjamin's may help persuade tenure-track faculty to support improvements in working conditions for contingent faculty, Benjamin's argument also could be used to support the perception that contingent faculty are underqualified (and so perhaps deserving of lower pay and benefits). Most of the analyses, position statements, and advice for organizing, however, avoid this problem, and even contingent faculty who want to develop policies for improving job security and academic freedom outside tenure will find the AAUP Web site a valuable resource for organizing faculty and composing persuasive arguments.
American Federation of Teachers Higher Education (http://www.aft.org/higher_ed/parttime/index.html)
The Part-Time/Adjunct Faculty Web pages on the AFT Higher Education Web site has a clear agenda--to encourage contingent faculty to unionize with AFT--and the site provides a great deal of information and a large number of contacts for those interested in forming part-time faculty associations or unions. The Web site features five AFT position statements of standards for the hiring and treatment of contingent faculty and graduate assistants (and information for ordering a sixth statement unavailable on-line). Some of the statements focus on a particular issue, such as a statement on shared governance that argues for the inclusion of part-time faculty, graduate assistants, and staff in campus decisions and policy-making. The statements often cite and summarize research on adjunct faculty conditions, some from AFT studies, and all the statements are thorough, thoughtful, and very useful to faculty who want to establish standards on the employment of contingent faculty in their institutions. The news articles, with archives going back to 2001, tend to stress union activities, court decisions, and legislative actions that involve AFT affiliates, often trumpeting AFT victories, but readers can quickly get up to date on national trends from the AFT collection of articles.
Publisher and Publisher-Sponsored Web Sites
The Web sites in this section are wholly or partially commercially funded. Lore, Adjuncts.com, and the Adjunct Genie are sections of textbook publisher Web sites directed to adjunct faculty and represent publishers' recognition that contingent faculty are an important market for textbook adoptions. Unlike the other contingent faculty Web sites, these sites are more concerned with providing resources and support for teaching than with the politics of contingent faculty working conditions, but each site addresses working conditions to some extent, some more than others. Lore is the only site of the three specifically dedicated to composition faculty and largely under the editorial control of faculty. Adjunct Nation is a slick commercial site supported by the advertising and sponsorship companies that publish textbooks, market office supply companies, provide insurance, and sell on-line teaching services, but it is also an extensive site, the home of the on-line version of the magazine Adjunct Advocate and a source of a wealth of information about jobs, teaching, publications, and union activity.
Adjunct Nation (http://www.adjunctnation.com)
Adjunct Nation is the most thorough and wide-ranging Web site for contingent faculty, a glossy Web site that features a lot of advertising but also succeeds at addressing the teaching and the political concerns of part-time faculty. The Web site requires registration for anyone who wants access to all of its features. While Adjunct Nation includes a lot of slick advertising as well as a book store and office supply store that fund the Web site and entertaining features such as informal polls, quizzes, games, and cartoons, it also has a number of valuable practical features. Adjunct Nation is particularly good at addressing the day-to-day problems and concerns of part-time faculty, especially with its Workplace/Career Issues link (which provides advice and information about careers, labor issues, and legal concerns) and its Life As An Adjunct link (which addresses insurance and money management problems). The Teaching Tools section has some useful features, especially a Reference Room with hundreds of links to libraries, databases, newspapers, journals, and reference sources. However, although the Syllabus Vault seems like a good idea for sharing syllabi, when I examined this feature, the English part of the vault included only a handful of syllabi, far fewer syllabi than someone could find with a Google search.
There is also a jobs section that includes listings of and links to job announcements, a resume bank, tips on conducting a job search, and message boards for posting information and stories and discussing issues and strategies about employment issues, job-hunting, and teaching abroad. The job listing has information on over 400 positions, although I wonder whether a nationwide listing of adjunct positions is useful to many job-seekers or whether many department heads check the resume bank. You can find links to other listings of position announcements for higher education under Adjunct Links as well. The message boards provide the most valuable aid to job-seekers, allowing them, for instance, to share strategies and compare salaries and benefits. The grants section is more obviously useful, including a calendar of deadlines, links to databases of funding sources, templates for composing grant letters and applications, and tutorials for grant writing, as well as a message board.
Among the most valuable features of Adjunct Nation are its numerous message boards, including a Curriculum Forum with different message boards for different disciplines; an Adjunct Advisor who answers questions on a variety of topics from teaching to copyright laws to unionizing; and Teachers' Lounge message boards on general education topics, technology concerns, and professional development. Colleague Connection consists of eight message boards for administrators who hire and supervise part-time faculty, contingent faculty involved in distance education, new teachers, faculty interesting in unionization, visiting faculty, contingent faculty from across the globe, faculty in Canadian schools, and faculty from both Canada and the U. S. As with most bulletin boards on contingent faculty Web sites, there is little participation on many of the message boards much of the time, but because Adjunct Nation has a larger audience than most contingent faculty Web sites, a number of its message boards feature lively discussions.
The most important feature of Adjunct Nation is the on-line version of the journal Adjunct Advocate. The on-line version of the current issue Adjunct Advocate includes only a selection of the articles in the print version, but all articles from past issues of the magazine can be found in the on-line archive. The journal publishes news items, reviews, interviews, and feature articles on topics such as the employment outlook in higher education, minority faculty, working conditions in universities overseas, grading trends, and adjunct faculty Guggenheim recipients. Technology issues are a frequent topic, with two 2003 issues devoted to distance learning (including an interview with Cynthia Selfe and a review of distance education resources) and to the University of Phoenix, as well as recent articles about such topics as on-line job searching, on-line plagiarism problems, and student attrition in on-line courses. While the feature articles and interviews provide a mix of informational articles, how-to advice, and entertaining stories, the briefer news items are a good source for keeping up with on-going contingent faculty subjects such as lawsuits, legislation, and protests and job actions. Articles are written in a journalistic style, similar to AAUP's Academe, although many of the writers are academics and often adjunct faculty.
Lore: An E-Journal for Teachers of College Writing (http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/lore/subscribe.htm)
Lore describes itself as "a journal for adjunct and graduate student teachers of writing, published five times a year and edited by TAs and adjuncts from the University of Illinois, Chicago, as well as recently graduated TAs who have just begun new academic jobs as assistant professors and writing center directors." The Web site, however, contains only three issues, dating back to Spring 2001. Although Lore is located on the Bedford/St. Martin's Web site, the advertising is minimal (a few discreet links to the composition section of the Web site and to other Bedford/St. Martin's on-line services and resources). As an academic journal, Lore is more successful than Adjuncts.com in soliciting articles and generating discussion from its readership, although it does not provide the amount of practical teaching advice and materials.
Lore has four main sites for publication and discussion: 1) "The Stairwell: A Teaching Forum," described as "informal discussions of everyday teaching issues"; 2) "Being Adjuncts: Strings Attached," which is "an archived listserv on professional issues"; 3) "Digressions: Reflections on Teaching," portrayed as "brief essays on various aspects of teaching and composition"; and 4) "Strategies: Making a Living," described as "stories and practical advice on job seeking and balancing work and life." For each issue, "The Stairwell" emails a call for articles on a particular question to readers who have registered on Lore. In the Spring 2003 issue, there are ten articles addressing the question "How do we handle student disclosure, and how do we disclose information about ourselves in the classroom? How do professionalism, authority, and objectivity complicate this issue?" The section also includes brief discussion comments written by each author after reading all the articles, making it the most dialogic section of the Web site.
The other forums include fewer, usually briefer and less formal selections, and do not have a discussion section, but there is a different controlling theme in each site for each issue. The prompt for "Being Adjuncts" in the Spring 2003 issue reads: "Descriptions of work done by adjuncts in composition remain riddled with negative images and associations. While such negativity is certainly not out of line, we worry that we are not developing a complete picture of why adjuncts do what they do. So what is positive about the life of an adjunct? Why might someone prefer being an adjunct to other work situations (either in or out of the academy)? Has the emphasis on what is not working in the adjunct world been misguided or right on target?" Nels P. Highberg, who edited this section and wrote a brief introduction and epilogue analyzing the responses, wrote that "We asked each writer to provide their gut instincts and to present what came from the top of their heads." And the six responses, all by contingent faculty, are quite informal and just a couple of paragraphs long. The "Digressions" forum consists of two more formal essays on the theme "A Day in the Life of a Writing Center Director," while the "Strategies" site publishes a book review as well as three longer, more academic articles on the prompt: "The Academic Couple — Our respondents explore what it is like, as a couple, to commute, seek jobs together, and work in the same department. They address how couples balance job concerns with commitments to their partners."
The name of the journal deliberately invokes Stephen North's and Patricia Harkin's concept of lore (and provides a brief bibliography), describing lore as a kind of "'situated knowledge'--the knowledge and expertise that grows from lived experiences--such as standing in front of twenty-five bored freshmen, most of whom don't want to be there." Lore values the teaching expertise that develops mainly out of experience rather than "pure theory," but its introductory "Welcome" section cites several theorists to support this emphasis, suggesting that its editors seek discussions of teaching based on experience but also a knowledge of composition scholarship. While the articles and responses do emphasize personal experience, many of them also are responding to usually recent publications, sometimes assessing theories to see whether they are consistent with the lives and practices of the writers and whether they help them understand their experiences. The editors are generally successful in soliciting articles from tenure-track faculty, contingent faculty, and graduate assistants, and one of the strengths of this Web site is in its range of perspectives.
Lore is not a site for finding teaching tips or organization strategies, but it provides a more reflective forum for reflecting on life and work as contingent faculty than perhaps any other Web site.
The Houghton Mifflin Web site includes a section called Adjuncts.com, which provides not only classroom support for contingent faculty but also space for political discussion while also promoting Houghton Mifflin's textbooks and other instructional materials. A section of the Web site is devoted to providing classroom support for each discipline, and the English section includes a couple of reviews of Houghton Mifflin textbooks reprinted from the Adjunct Advocate, an extensive bibliography of print journals and books on composition and technical writing, links to various on-line resources for composition instructors (including Kairos), and teaching suggestions and material from the instructor's guides to some of Houghton Mifflin's textbook. Except for the bibliography and links to on-line resources, this section is a little thin (nothing is available with the "testing" link), but Houghton Mifflin apparently plans to develop these resources further.
The "In the News" section reprints twelve essays on various subjects. Without a clear purpose such as providing information about legislation and union activities relevant to contingent faculty, "In the News" is less useful than the news features on other contingent faculty Web sites and sometimes seems to reflect the marketing interests of Houghton Mifflin with a number of articles dealing with textbook publishing and technology. "Faculty News" is more useful, with teaching tips and articles about teaching practices submitted by faculty from different institutions, some of whom conduct workshops for Houghton Mifflin. Much more extensive than either of these features are the assortment of distance-learning demos on using Blackboard, WebCT, and eCollege and on teaching on-line courses in different disciplines, including composition. Adjuncts.com is more subtle in its marketing and devotes less space to advertising its products than Longman's Adjunct Genie, but the marketing of Houghton Mifflin products and services in the news and demos features takes place in a context of providing practical and useful instructional support.
Adjuncts.com provides a number of forums for contingent faculty to share their ideas or give voice to their concerns. Its bulletin board provides a space where faculty can discuss problems about teaching and living in a part-time position, although few people have actually posted to the board. Adjuncts.com proposes a new discussion topic each month, such as department support, time management, and career stress, topics that invite political discussions of adjunct working conditions, but only the career stress discussion had as many as nine messages. Contingent faculty also use the bulletin board to post information about conferences, Web sites, and resources that may interest part-time faculty. You have to register with the Web site in order to post to the bulletin board, but any visitor can read the discussions. Your Turn provides a space where adjunct faculty can post essays and editorials. Only ten essays are posted on Your Turn, however, with few new essays since I first checked Your Turn two years ago. The essays themselves are eclectic in subject matter and stance. Some are personal essays that discuss a teaching problem or practice that the author has experienced, although some of the personal narratives get into subjects outside the classroom, such as adjunct faculty representation in a faculty senate. Other essays read more like an editorial or political analysis, such as one that discusses a proposed law in Arkansas that would require university professors to be available to students on campus four days a week, or they combine features of analysis and personal narrative, such as an essay that discusses stories of sexual encounters between students and adjunct faculty. The value of these features depends on the participation of visitors to the Web site, and at this point few adjunct faculty have taken advantage of Adjuncts.com's forums.
Adjunct Genie (http://www.ablongman.com/html/adjuncts/)
The glossy Adjunct Genie Web pages on the Allyn and Bacon/Longman Publishing Web site exist to advertise the publisher's products to adjunct faculty. The English composition section of the Adjunct Genie mainly provides links to other Web pages such as the textbook catalogue, technological solutions, and contact information. It is clear from this Web site, however, that the publisher considers adjunct faculty an important and probably neglected market for its textbooks. One prominent feature of the Web site is a survey to provide Longman information about the teaching and textbook needs of adjunct faculty. Adjunct faculty who complete the survey are sent a copy of the book New Strategies in College Teaching: Succeeding in Today's Academic World. Although the Adjunct Genie promises to provide new Web pages such as a "Syllabi Vault," "Author Interviews," and "Tech Glossary," at present the best the site can do to provide specific help to adjuncts is to offer a selection of books such as The Adjunct Professor's Guide to Success: Surviving and Thriving in the College Classroom (at a 20% discount) at its on-line "professional development bookstore." Interestingly, five of the sixteen books listed are books about teaching in web-based and on-line environments, seeming to recognize that contingent faculty often are not provided sufficient training in technology and that colleges and universities often depend heavily on part-time faculty for distance learning. Allyn & Bacon/Longman is planning to completely redesign the Adjunct Genie Web site to make it more useful for instructors and more interactive.
Other Web Sites
Workplace: The Journal for Academic Labor (http://www.workplace-gsc.com/)
Workplace is not technically a contingent faculty Web site, but its articles on often focus on contingent faculty issues, and most of its articles are relevant to anyone interested in understanding and analyzing higher education from the perspective of labor and economics. Unlike Lore or Adjunct Advocate, Workplace features traditional academic articles, extended analytical works, such as "The Corporate War Against Higher Education" by Henry Giroux, "Citizenship and Literacy Work: Thoughts Without a Conclusion" by Richard Ohmann, and "Disciplinarity and Exploitation: Compositionists as Good Professionals" by James Sledd rather than more personal or journalistic essays that take only a few minutes to read. But besides these often wide-ranging critiques, Workplace also includes sections that consider issues in the day-to-day living of faculty, as in the "Organizing the Family" section of articles in October 2002 issue, which address the problems of graduate students' families and how graduate student unions can address these problems.
Many of the contributors, as well as the "Workplace Collective" of fifty scholars behind this journal, are familiar names to scholars interested in radical critiques of higher education, including a high percentage of scholars in English and composition studies. The radical politics advocated by many of the contributors gives Workplace a harder edge than most of the contingent faculty Web sites, which answer to the wide membership of the AAUP or disciplinary associations and protect associations' tax-exempt nonprofit status or need to avoid offending potential consumers and advertisers. The commercial Web sites and the Web sites sponsored by a professional association other than a part-time faculty union lean more toward liberal politics than radical. While the CCCC site, for example, must be careful not to advocate unionization, Workplace eagerly promotes unionization.
Workplace, however, is a good news source for faculty organizers, with a "Breaking News" section of brief news items about faculty and TA union strikes, elections, and other activities; lawsuits and legislation; and actions taken by university administrations against faculty organizations and an "Activist Front" section of longer, occasionally more personal articles. Workplace also provides numerous links to useful union and faculty association web sites and to on-line journals that often provide radical critiques of the university.
Contingency Plan (http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~clark9/contingency)
"Contingency Plan" is a new Web site that advertises itself as "the only site produced and published by and for contingent faculty and TAs teaching computer-mediated writing courses – including all levels of composition and professional writing." Tracy Clark, a Continuing Lecturer in the Professional Writing Program at Purdue University, created Contingency Plan in conjunction with a roundtable discussion session on non-tenure-track faculty at the 2003 Computers and Writing Conference. The Web site promises to open discussion boards to discuss contingent faculty issues, especially those related to teaching writing with computers. In addition, Contingency Plan offers a "toolbox" that invites part-time faculty to share support materials that they have developed for teaching on-line. The site also has links to conferences, journals, publications, workshops, and calls for papers in composition and in computers and writing, especially those "soliciting the often outstanding work done by people outside the ranks of 'regular' faculty." There are also links to Web sites, on-line journals, and listservs that discuss "the latest developments in teaching with technology."
Except for the Web sites of adjunct faculty associations, Contingency Plan may be the only Web site for adjunct faculty created and maintained by contingent faculty, and it is unique in its focus on computer-mediated writing instruction. It is a well-designed site, but its value will depend on its ability to attract contingent faculty in computers and composition and to get
them to contribute to the Web site and participate on the discussion boards.