The New Faculty Majority and Civic Engagement

April 2, 2014    12:00-1:30 PM (Eastern)


 Maria Maisto
New Faculty Majority


About this Session:

The majority of all college faculty now work on part-time or full-time temporary contracts, and many lack sufficient access to the institutional support that is necessary for quality education. In many fields, the majority of adjuncts are no longer simply traditional "second career" or "teaching professionals" but rather trained academics who are encountering a starkly downsized tenure-track job market.

At the same time that higher education has experienced an increase in the number of adjunct faculty, there has been a rise in civic engagement as core academic work – in teaching and learning, in scholarship, and in service. Much of this work has been focused on student civic learning and democratic engagement.

This virtual think tank will explore how campuses can advance student civic learning and democratic engagement when a faculty majority lacks a full voice in campus governance and is treated as second class institutional citizens; how campuses sustain long-term relationships with formal obligations in community partnerships while not providing the institutional support for a majority of faculty; how faculty can pursue community engaged teaching and learning on public issues without the protections of academic freedom. How can campuses advance civic engagement without advancing the professional working conditions of faculty who do not have the rights and protections of tenure?

Maria Maisto will discuss the new faculty demographics and offer recommendations for campuses to support adjunct faculty in ways that create a faculty that provides excellence in teaching and learning and helps fulfill the civic purposes of higher education.

About the Presenter:

Maria Maisto 9-12.1Maria Maisto is a co-founder and the current president of New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct and Contingent Equity (NFM), a 501(c)6 nonprofit established in February 2009. NFM works to improve the quality of higher education by improving the working conditions of the majority of its faculty.

NFM is committed to creating stable, equitable, sustainable, non-exploitative academic environments that promote more effective teaching, learning, and research. It believes that such environments only exist with academic freedom, equal compensation and benefits, participation in faculty governance, and access to professional development.

Maria has been teaching as an adjunct in English at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio since 2009. From 2005-2009 she taught at The University of Akron. Prior to moving to Ohio, she lived in Washington DC. She received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and her Master's Degree in English at Georgetown University and did her doctoral work in Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland at College Park. She wrote and published her first dissertation chapter on hermeneutics and film theory while she was expecting her first child, then took a position at the Association of American Colleges and Universities with the Racial Legacies and Learning initiative. After her second child was born, she left her doctoral program ABD but continued to work in higher education, working for 5 years for the American Conference of Academic Deans.

In late 2009 she helped establish the NFM Foundation, a now 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which is the main research and education arm of NFM.  NFMF sponsored the first national summit on contingent faculty employment in January 2012 in conjunction with the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Titled "Reclaiming Academic Democracy: Facing the Consequences of Contingent Employment in Higher Education," the event brought faculty, administrators, students, parents, and community members together to learn about the problem and begin the process of forging solutions. The Foundation's survey of back-to-school hiring practices, which found that up to 60% of adjunct faculty are getting teaching assignments with three weeks or fewer to prepare, was the basis of a report she co-authored for the Center for the Future of Higher Education, "Who Is Professor Staff, and how can this person teach so many classes?"

Maria has written about contingency for Liberal Education (with the late Steve Street), in Embracing Non-Tenure Track Faculty: Changing Campuses for the New Faculty Majority (2012) edited by Adrianna Kezar, and "Contemporary Colleges and Universities: A Reader" (co-authored with Mayra Besosa) edited by Joseph Devitis, forthcoming 2013.

Membership in NFM is open to all contingent faculty and their supporters within and outside of higher education at a sliding dues scale. See  Donations to the NFM Foundation are tax deductible.

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