DePaul's Committee on Contingent Faculty has released the findings of a survey collecting feedback from adjunct faculty. The committee, formed by Faculty Council, conducted the survey in June 2015. One of the survey's first outcomes will be a reception honoring DePaul's adjunct faculty on May 11 at 4:30 p.m. in The Theatre School.
"The committee developed the survey to better understand adjunct faculty concerns, the issues that are most important to them and whether the university is meeting those needs," says Mary Mindak, an assistant professor of accounting in the Driehaus College of Business who serves as the chair of the Committee on Contingent Faculty. "The committee specifically used open-ended questions in the survey to give adjunct faculty the opportunity to thoroughly explain concerns."
Sixty-three percent of adjunct faculty members are satisfied or more than satisfied with the administration at the department and college level. More than 75 percent of adjunct faculty feel they have adequate resources and facility support, noting sufficient materials and library services to support teaching needs. Some expressed the need for better office space to meet with students and a request for more personal computers.
Overall, comments conveyed an appreciation for the opportunity to voice concerns through the survey. Yet feelings also exist regarding a lack of appreciation for the contributions adjunct faculty make to the university.
"We want to make sure adjunct faculty feel they are part of the DePaul community, and the reception is one way we are addressing this concern," Mindak says. "We are working to identify additional ways to bring adjunct faculty together."
An important area of concern appears to be communication, Mindak explains. Adjunct faculty members feel uninformed about university policies and processes within their units. The majority, 77 percent, are not aware of webpages dedicated to adjunct faculty on the academic affairs website for example. Adjunct faculty also expressed concern regarding a lack of reviews from their academic units.
"Communication is a key area," Mindak says." Many resources are available, but adjunct faculty don't know about them. We want to make sure adjunct faculty feel represented and have a voice in the community."
Regarding compensation, responses are divided equally between satisfied, neutral and dissatisfied. While some adjunct faculty feel the amount of compensation per course is inadequate, others who have full-time jobs elsewhere view teaching as "giving back." The survey's open-ended responses by participants indicated that many adjunct faculty either are not using or are not aware of health and fringe benefits. In response to feedback, the university already has implemented new initiatives, including enhanced course cancellation fees and multicourse contracts. Provost Marten denBoer also created an Adjunct Task Force to present recommendations within months on how to enhance adjunct faculty voice and further involve them in university life. The Committee on Contingent Faculty will continue to evaluate concerns regarding compensations and benefits.
The June 2015 adjunct faculty survey also helped the Committee on Contingent Faculty develop questions for the recent university climate survey. The combined results will provide the committee with the insight needed to effectively advocate for change.
"Now we have more direction on areas of importance that we will continue to address as a committee," Mindak says.
For more information about the committee or the May 11 reception for adjunct faculty, contact Mary Mindak.