“The Center for the Study of Academic Labor is a new and dynamic initiative at Colorado State University, designed to help us all more fully understand the shifting nature of academic employment and the potential, transformative impact on the mission, culture, and character of U.S. colleges and universities.
As a comprehensive research university fully committed to a world-class residential learning experience for our undergraduates, tenured faculty represent the backbone of our university. Yet, as with many universities, the first experiences of the students we have worked so hard to recruit – and whose success is our reason for being – often come from our non-tenure-track colleagues. These are highly qualified, talented, and committed scholars who have, for too long, been asked to do too much for too little with too little support and recognition.
My own daughters have come home with examples of wonderful experiences with non-tenure-track faculty members, reminding me of the critical impact these educators are making. This underscores for me how, in turn, we have a responsibility to assure all members of our community have fair pay, benefits, a level of job security, respect, and a voice in shared governance.
Underpinning all of these at an academic institution is the protection of academic freedom, and the CSAL is, itself, a powerful example of why academic freedom and open expression must be preserved as cornerstone values. Through art, information sharing, research, and analysis, we are able to question the foundations and practices of institutions and structures – including our own. To fully and openly address questions related to the evolving academic workforce can often involve difficult challenges to the status quo, whether that status quo is defined by administrative procedure or academic tradition. But these questions simply must be asked, the answers debated – and the CSAL will serve as a powerful force in those conversations.
I am proud to join with my CSAL colleagues in encouraging thoughtful and scholarly exploration of the various forces and pressures that influence the academic labor market, the opportunities we have to transform the role of contingent faculty as full and equal members of the academic labor force, and barriers that hinder our progress. Thank you for joining the conversation.”
Dr. Tony Frank
President, Colorado State University