PSC President James Davis and Secretary Penny Lewis sent a letter to all CUNY department chairs on Thursday, May 5 urging them to “consider the qualifications of CUNY’s excellent adjunct faculty” as they seek to fill the new full-time faculty lines won in the latest State budget. The letter is just part of a much larger effort to help “promote our talented, qualified faculty colleagues whose prospects for a full-time appointment have been curtailed by austerity conditions” while at the same time increasing the racial diversity of the full-time faculty. To help, get involved with your PSC chapter or the Committee for Adjuncts and Part-timers.
May 5, 2022
Dear Department Chairs,
We hope this finds you well and gearing up for a good end of the semester. As you may know, the University has secured a commitment from New York State for $53 million in the coming year’s budget to hire 500+ new full-time faculty. Many of you actively participated in the campaigns that made this investment possible. We know full well that this many new full-time faculty is not enough to make up for many years of budget cuts and attrition! But we hope that this start is welcome news to you and your department colleagues.
The future funding is for a mix of professorial and lecturer lines; your college may have already begun allocating lecturer lines for the 2022-23 academic year. As you move ahead with recruitment and interviews, consider the qualifications of CUNY’s excellent adjunct faculty, your current colleagues. These are instructors who, in many instances, would have attained full-time employment had the academic labor market not been eroded over the past several decades. Many of CUNY’s long-serving adjunct faculty have received peer observations and annual evaluations as part of their professional development. They are an asset to CUNY’s students and their years of investment should be taken into consideration. You have an opportunity, working with your department’s hiring committee, to promote our talented, qualified faculty whose prospects for a full-time appointment have been curtailed by austerity conditions. It is also an opportunity to increase the racial diversity of our full-time faculty, an ongoing issue at many CUNY campuses.
As recently as the 1980s, 70 percent of college and university employees nationwide were tenured or on the tenure track, but today 75 percent of faculty lines are off the tenure track and 47 percent of those teaching hold part-time positions, according to a recent study by the American Federation of Teachers. CUNY has been at the leading edge of this dramatic and deleterious shift; there are now roughly twice as many faculty on contingent appointments (over 12,000) as on full-time appointments (around 7,000). Clearly, no single round of hiring can reverse the “adjunctification” of the University, and the PSC will continue to fight for additional funding for full-time lines, including through the New Deal for CUNY legislation, which would mandate thousands more hires. But any round of hiring is an opportunity to address this trend by recruiting from the deep pool of talent already serving our students and our university.
There are hundreds of “hiring from within” success stories at CUNY, including from many of your departments. Some of our most effective and celebrated teaching lecturers began as long-time adjuncts at CUNY; many of our professors got their start as adjunct instructors. Given the longstanding drought in full-time lines nationally, the overwhelming majority of candidates will be applying with semesters or years of contingent employment behind them. We hope you agree that this is an opportunity to diversify our faculty ranks and to hire those with proven track records of teaching at CUNY.
Thank you for your continued efforts in leading your departments through challenging times.
James Davis, President
Penny Lewis, Secretary