The Center for the Study of Academic Labor (CSAL) promotes research and scholarship on the transformation of academic labor in higher education, especially the increasing reliance on contingent (non-tenure track) faculty.
The teaching mission of higher education, and the system of academic labor that puts it into practice, are under threat from escalating tuition costs, competition from on-line alternatives, shrinking state support for higher education, and administrative spending priorities. CSAL seeks to build a multidisciplinary network of scholars who have particular interests in the dramatic growth of contingent faculty throughout all of higher education and its impact on educational outcomes, faculty governance, academic freedom and the culture of higher education. In so doing, CSAL carves out an area of research that some have called “contingency studies.” CSAL publishes books, journals, papers and data on topics such as the characteristics and working conditions of contingent faculty, the academic labor market, university budgets, academic employment policies and the future of the tenure system. CSAL promotes respect for all faculty, fair treatment of all faculty, and dedication to the teaching mission of higher education.
Marisa Allison: Marisa Allison is a doctoral candidate in Public and Applied Sociology at George Mason University as well as Research Fellow for the New Faculty Majority Foundation. Marisa has been an adjunct instructor for over 10 years at multiple institutions in Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama and is currently completing her doctoral degree. Her research investigates the ways transformations in political economy have affected institutions of higher education and women’s work within them. In her position at NFM, Marisa has led multiple research projects assessing the working conditions of adjunct and contingent faculty in higher education. She currently serves on ASA’s task force on contingent faculty and is a founding member of contingent faculty interest group at the National Women’s Studies Association.
Joe Berry: JB is author of Reclaiming the “Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education” and, with Helena Worthen and Beverly Stewart, “Access to Unemployment Benefits for Contingent Faculty”. He was a founder of Chicago COCAL and serves on the International Advisory Committee of COCAL. He is a retired contingent faculty from U of IL and City College of SF, both in Labor Studies. He has also worked as a staff member for locals of AFT, NEA and SEIU. Currently, he teaches part-time at CCSF and seves on the E. Bd. of AFT 2121, the faculty union there. He also teaches as a visting lecturer in Labor Studies at Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. He is the editor of the weekly email news aggregator for contingent faculty activists and their allies, COCAL UPDATES. He also serves on the Comm. on Part-time, Adjunct and Contingent Employment of the Org. of American Historians.
John Curtis: John Curtis is an independent consultant providing research and evaluation services to organizations in education, labor, and international affairs. He was previously director of research for the American Sociological Association and the American Association of University Professors. In earlier years he worked at community colleges in Montana and Virginia, and at universities in Germany and Kenya. He holds a PhD in sociology from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming. He is the father of two adult children and has one granddaughter, and lives in Washington, DC.
Doug Hesse: Director of Writing at the University of Denver, member of the Delphi Study group
Adrianna Kezar: Faculty member at the University of Southern California and Director of the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty
Maria Maisto: Maria Maisto is a co-founder and the current president and executive director of New Faculty Majority and the NFM Foundation, affiliated nonprofits that work to improve the quality of higher education by transforming the working conditions of the majority of its faculty, who now work in temporary positions, more than half of them part-time without benefits or other professional support. In her role with NFM, she has advocated for these faculty and their students by testifying before a Congressional committee, coordinating a national summit on, and national weeks of advocacy for, contingent faculty, and being interviewed for, writing, and speaking in academic and mainstream national media venues including The New York Times, MSNBC, and NPR.
Maisto has presented at conferences and meetings, all on the question of how faculty working conditions affect student learning conditions, and has initiated or participated in building and strengthening higher education and cross-sector coalitions dedicated to reform of the contingent employment system, serving on governance committees within disciplinary associations, as a Visiting Fellow with the New England Research Center for Higher Education, and on the board of the Center for the Study of Academic Labor at Colorado State University. In 2015 she led NFM's work assisting Brave New Films in the production of a short documentary, “Professors in Poverty,” which was shown at a Congressional briefing in Washington DC in November of that year. In January 2017 she was named to the National Advisory Panel for the 2018 Elective Community Engagement Classification process of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She has written or co-authored reports and essays on adjunct faculty working conditions in several journals and books.
Maisto earned her undergraduate degree in Foreign Service with a concentration in Humanities and her M.A. in English from Georgetown University, and is ABD in Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland at College Park. She has taught courses in Composition, Literature, and Film as an adjunct faculty member in Maryland and Ohio. She is married to a veteran high school teacher and is the mother of three children ages 17, 16, and 10.
Steve Parks: Faculty member at Syracuse University in the Writing and Rhetoric program. Co-founder, Syrians for Truth and Justice. Editor, Studies in Writing and Rhetoric
Gary Rhoades: Head, Department of Educational Policy Studies & Practice, and Director, Center for the Study of Higher Education.
James Patrick (“Jim”) Walsh: PhD, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UC-Denver, and founder of the Romero Theater Troupe, which recently received the National Education Association’s Cesar Chavez Human and Civil Rights Award.
“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
former President, Colorado State University