College Art Association

CAA News Today

Report on Part-Time Faculty in Art History and Studio Art

posted by Linda Downs — Jun 07, 2013

The more information that is made available on critical issues in the field, the greater a case can be made for advocacy to promote change. One of the major challenges for the visual-arts field is ensuring that all faculty are properly supported so that they may provide outstanding teaching, research and creative work. It is estimated that over 70% of faculty at colleges and universities in the United States are now hired on a contingent bases. This upward trend began in the 1970s and appears to dominate the future.

Data on working conditions of part-time faculty is not easily available since the funding for the National Study on Postsecondary Faculty at the Department of Education was discontinued in 2003. Data on art history, studio art, and art education faculty is even more difficult to obtain since visual arts and performing arts faculty were historically aggregated together by the Department of Education.

In response to the lack of data, the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, http://www.academicworkforce.org/  comprising twenty six academic associations including CAA, organized an extensive survey. The report on this survey was published in June 2012 http://www.academicworkforce.org/CAW_portrait_2012.pdf.  Of the 20,000 part-time faculty participating in the survey, 1,034 were CAA members. The data they contributed has been compiled and is now available [http://www.collegeart.org/pdf/CAA-CAWContingentFacultySurvey.pdf].

Some of the major findings from the art historians, artists and art educators indicate that: 1) part-time faculty in the visual arts field have a slightly higher salary rate than the median; 2) there are gender disparities in salaries within the visual arts; and 3) resources and benefits provided by institutions are two to three times lower for visual-arts faculty than the full sample of respondents.

What is CAA doing to address these issues? The Board adopted the Guidelines for Part-Time Faculty in 2004. The Professional Practices Committee under the chairmanship of Jim Hopfensperger and an ad hoc committee led by Tom Berding and CAA board member, John Richardson are working to update these guidelines to respond to present needs in order to provide standards for the field.

Several CAA annual conference sessions have been devoted to resources for administrators and part-time faculty. At the 2013 New York Annual Conference, a panel which included John Curtis from the American Association of University Professors and Rosemary Feal from the Modern Language Association, among others, provided valuable resources for networking among part-time faculty. An example is organizations such as CAW that are actively addressing workforce issues and state and national government advocacy. These resources can be found at http://www.collegeart.org/resources/contingentfaculty.

The CAA Board has organized a planning task force of members to address critical issues in the field over the next five years. The profound changes in the structure of faculty, teaching formats, digital research, publishing and creative work are some of the greatest challenges identified. The members of the task force welcome your comments in shaping how CAA can address these and other major issues of our profession. Please send your ideas and comments to CAA at nyoffice@collegeart.org.

I would like to thank Peter Bucchianeri at Harvard University for compiling the data and writing the report on the responses of CAA member respondents to the contingent faculty survey.