Letter to the Editor: AU term faculty serve an important role

Last year, term faculty successfully fought for University support

Many faculty members were pleased to see The Eagle’s coverage of the possibility of AU adjunct faculty joining a union. However, the article doesn’t take into account a large cohort of faculty that is distinct from tenure-track and adjunct. 

In the latest faculty manual, this other cohort was designated “term faculty.” We want to make sure The Eagle’s readers get the complete picture of the work force at AU.

For perspective: term faculty account for over 20 percent of the university faculty. In fall 2010, term faculty taught 43 percent of 100-299-level courses (i.e., generally the first- and second-year courses), and they taught 35 percent of the 300-499 courses.   

Term faculty positions are full-time positions, and term faculty have access to multi-year contracts, which means that they can — and do — have long relationships with AU, just as tenured faculty do.

While term faculty positions are teaching-dedicated, term faculty contribute a great deal to the life of the university outside the classroom, serving as advisors to student organizations and to independent studies, serving on committees, presenting at conferences, researching and publishing, etc.

Within the last few years, term faculty successfully fought for the right to promotions and other support from the University. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece about this new development in June. As the Chronicle reports, AU is actually ahead of the curve when it comes to “adapting its governance structure and policies to today’s academic work force.” It goes on to state that AU “has found ways to offer its term faculty members new career tracks, research opportunities, and more say in university affairs.”  

The Eagle’s separate editorial of Nov. 22 was right to encourage a debate about the job situations of adjunct faculty, but Eagle readers (students, faculty and prospective students and parents) should know about these important term faculty gains as they think about how to contribute to that debate.

Kelly Joyner & Heather McDonald

Writing instructors in the College Writing Program

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