Over the past two decades, the SUNY system and other public universities nationwide have relied more on part-time teachers to lead classrooms, while the opportunities for professors to get on the tenure track — a pathway that leads to higher salary and more job security — have diminished.
Nationwide, tenured professors now account for less than 30 percent of the faculty jobs in academia. Until about 15 years ago, Kowal said, about 70 percent of the faculty positions were filled with tenured professors.
“There has been this massive shift in the name of administrative flexibility,: he said.
The union has been pressing the university administration to establish a minimum per-course salary for adjunct professors. Two weeks ago, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher was greeted at the SUNY New Paltz campus by dozens of protestors who raised questions about what they contended was low pay for adjuncts, according to the Kingston Freeman.
Kowal, a resident of Warnerville, said the pay for adjuncts and the increasing reliance on part-time teachers remains one of the biggest concerns of UUP. Still another concern, he said, is that the administration has a tendency to introduce new programs that impact professors without first running the ideas past the union.
“SUNY has been changing in some ways we don’t necessarily oppose, with things like distance earning — online classes — and shared services,” Kowal said. “The problem we have with the chancellor on both of those initiatives is the lack of consultation. What we want to be able to do is provide what we think is very sound advice on how to do these initiatives right.”
Earlier this month, SUNY officials announced that the SUNY Delhi and Cobleskill campuses will no longer have to share Candace Vancko as president of both campuses. She will return to the Delhi campus June 1 as its full-time president, while Debra Thatcher, vice president for academic affairs at the Cobleskill campus, will become its acting president while a search will begin for that position.