Contingent Faculty

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In February 2017, the College reached an agreement on a first contract with the Barnard Contingent Faculty Union (BCF)-UAW that reflects our deep respect for the union members’ significant contribution to the Barnard community.

This first contract pushes forward substantive changes in wages, benefits, and job security for contingent faculty that recognize their commitment to our students. A summary of the first contract may be found in the Human Resources section of the Barnard website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Barnard is proud of our diverse and distinguished faculty, and we strive to make sure that the College is a great place to work, teach, and pursue fulfilling careers. As with any institution of higher learning, our faculty body is complex—made up of tenured, tenure-track, and full-time renewable faculty, as well as adjunct faculty and full-time faculty on term-length appointments.

What is covered by this first contract and what does it provide?

This contract covers the terms and conditions of employment for contingent faculty, including adjunct faculty and full-time faculty on term-length appointments.

The contract raises wages for nearly all covered faculty, makes healthcare insurance available for many of the adjunct faculty previously not eligible for healthcare insurance, and provides longer-term contracts of one to four years, depending upon the length of service of our adjunct faculty members. Finally, longer-serving adjunct faculty who are not rehired qualify for separation pay.

Most importantly, the contract preserves the primary role of academic departments and their chairs in matching available talent to teaching needs, year by year. It stipulates the process and terms by which appointments are determined. 

The contract also provides a grievance process available to all members of the unit.

What is the status of the implementation process?

Each academic year, contingent faculty experience considerable turnover as full-time tenured, tenure-track, and reviewed and renewable faculty return from sabbatical and leave, and as specific departmental teaching needs change.

The collective bargaining agreement signed with the unit provides greater stability in appointment length for long-serving adjunct faculty. A sizable share of the bargaining unit was reappointed for the 2017-18 academic year, and many for multiple-year appointments.

We will provide accurate numbers on the contingent faculty reappointed once the data are complete.

What are the contractual terms for appointments?

First-time adjuncts are appointed by the semester for a probationary period of four semesters. After the probationary period, they are eligible for appointments of a year, although they need not teach in both semesters.

After seven semesters of teaching in consecutive academic years, adjuncts are offered either a one-year appointment or a semester of separation pay. Increased longevity in consecutive academic years affords longer appointments or higher separation pay, reaching the maximum of a four-year appointment or three years of separation pay for those with more than 42 semesters of teaching at the College in consecutive academic years.

Post-probationary adjuncts are notified about appointments by June 1. Adjuncts who are not being reappointed and are eligible for separation pay in lieu of appointment will be offered that separation pay by June 1 as well. Term faculty are notified of non-renewal by August 30 the year before their term ends. 

Appointments are made in writing and state title and pay rate, as well as the courses assigned to the extent that information is available.

How are appointment decisions made?

At Barnard, department chairs and program directors are principally responsible for directing the instructional program and for the administration of their department or program. This responsibility includes making academic staffing decisions, including decisions on what courses will be taught in any given academic semester and by whom. As designees of the Provost, they are charged with finding the most highly qualified adjunct and term faculty to teach their departmental courses. Appointment decisions are based solely on academic considerations.

What is the grievance process and how does it work?

Like all collective bargaining agreements, our contract includes a formal dispute resolution mechanism that begins with grievance.  A grievance concerns an alleged infringement of the terms of the contract. An individual who wishes to file a grievance does so in writing to the chair or director of the academic department or their designee. The filing of a grievance sets in motion a timetable for response. The College arranges a time to hear the grievance that is mutually convenient to the College, the Union, and the grievant, and so as not to interfere with grievant’s duties at the College. The College then provides a written response. If the outcome of the initial grievance does not resolve the issue, the Union may file a “step two” grievance in writing to the provost or her designee. In cases when a leave of absence was denied or a unit member was discharged, the Union may file the initial grievance at step two. Step two grievances also entail a hearing and the issuance of a written response. If a step two grievance remains unresolved after the College responds, either the Union or the College may submit the grievance to arbitration.

In the case of arbitration, the College will honor the agreement reached by the parties through the collective bargaining process.  UAW Local 2110 proposed a permanent panel of three arbitrators. The College agreed. Thus, the dispute resolution procedure provides that an arbitrator will be selected from the list of three named in the contract. The first arbitration case under the agreement is to be assigned to the first arbitrator identified. Thereafter, each arbitration case is to be assigned on a rotating basis to the next arbitrator appearing on the list. In the event an arbitrator is not available to hear a case, the next arbitrator on the list will be promptly notified of the request for a hearing.

What factors affect the number of contingent appointments in any given semester?

Because the sabbatical and leave schedules of full-time reviewed and renewable faculty will vary each year, and since most academic departments change or rotate the courses they teach from semester to semester, the need for contingent faculty varies. Some programs depend more on contingent faculty than others--since, for example, our location in New York gives the College access to leading economists, professional dancers or well-known architects for whom teaching is not their primary focus. And sometimes a program will restructure its offerings, as happened with the adoption of the new core curriculum, Foundations, which led to several changes in the course of study, including substantive changes to the first-year curriculum. 

Our new contract with the BCF provides greater stability for contingent faculty while preserving the College’s ability to make necessary adjustments to its teaching program.