Thursday, May 24, 2012

#NFM a strong voice for #ContingentFaculty @ 3rd #CFHE Gathering

Despite possible impressions to the contrary, the New Faculty Majority was well represented, highly visible and a strong voice to make adjunct and contingent issues a priority at the Third National Gathering (left) of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE), hosted by the Michigan Conference AAUP in Ypsilanti, Michigan May 18-20. 
Gary Rhoades including New Faculty Majority Foundation board membership in his Saturday morning introduction signaled our presence, further highlighted by a highly visible NFM presence that included active participation and presentations: President Maria Maisto, VP Matt Williams (right), Treasurer Bill Lipkin, Board Member Alan Trevithick, Esther S. Merves, the Foundation’s Director of Research and Special Programs, and member Daniel Maxey. Additionally, members of NFM’s Board of Advisors, Elizabeth Hoffman,  Associate Vice President,  Lecturers, California Faculty Association, and Richard Moser, of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, were also heard in support of a strong and continuing focus on contingency.  

Until recently, of course, Professor Rhoades was General Secretary of the AAUP, remains professor of higher education at the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education and also directs CFHE’s think tank, the Center for the Future of Higher Education. The Center's mission statement emphasizes that the current national debate about higher education urgently must include “faculty members teaching in the classrooms and labs of colleges and universities around the country.” That this position aligns with New Faculty Majority’s views was clear in Rhoades’ own Sunday morning presentation on the Center’s first report linking issues of student access and the quality of learning directly to adjunct and contingent working conditions. He also announced that the center’s second report would focus squarely on contingent faculty working conditions, unprofessional hiring practices, and their detrimental effects on students and faculty.

Rhoades' presentation was a natural opening for the last major presentation at the conference. NFM President Maria Maisto (left, standing, w Gary Rhoades & ?) opened with a clear, confident and resolute summary of NFM’s main goals, principles and current projects. NFM Foundation’s Director of Research and Special Programs, Esther S. Merves (pictured below) capped the presentation with an expert tour of NFM’s Back to School Survey results. The full report will soon be released by CFHE.  

The previous day at the conference was also rich in presentations on issues of contingency, from NFM President Maria Maisto, and from Daniel Maxey, NFM member and co-investigator, with Professor Adianna Kezar at University of Southern California, on The Changing Faculty and Student Success project at the Pullias Center for Higher Education. 

Throughout the meeting, other NFM voices were heard clearly. NFM VP Matt Williams, for instance, recommended that the legal and fiduciary activities of public and public-supported HE institutions be subjected to greater scrutiny, while NFM Foundation Treasurer William Lipkin spoke out in regard to the specific problems of  2-year colleges, by many measures the most impacted by the practices of contingency.

Dr. Alan Trevithick, who submitted this report (gently edited and emphasis added as appropriate), was also present throughout the proceedings but cautioned to remain still and to sit on his hands if he couldn’t behave.  

Live social media coverage was thin on the ground, but we're collecting what there was, press release and follow up reports to review, collate and share in a separate post.

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