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Abstract

The last 40 years have seen a dramatic shift in the hiring, evaluation and promotional structures prevalent in higher education. While the model of a largely full time, tenure-track faculty continues to be the ideal of most academic institutions, economic, political and social changes have eroded that model. A substantial percentage, typically a majority, of college and university faculty are now hired on a contingent or part-time basis, with fiscal and other conditions determining job security, compensation, professional advancement, and an opportunity to participate in governance of departments and institutions. This paper examines the unseen impact that such hiring practices have on professionalism and academic freedoms, not only for contingent faculty themselves but for faculty as a whole. We conclude that the current, two-class faculty system not only erodes collegiality and cohesion, but inhibits the quest for knowledge, wisdom and social justice that are a core mission of higher education.

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