Moving Past Contingency

bentley moving past contingency logo colorDear Colleague,

I began teaching psychology classes at Bentley fifteen years ago, in the fall of 2000. The department I was in has changed a number of times since then, but psychology is now in the Natural and Applied Sciences Department.

I am a licensed clinical psychologist, but have also been teaching since 1982. The first thing I want to say is that I love my job. I love the students, my colleagues, the staff, the campus and all the department chairs I have had. I have always been treated with respect and courtesy and I love coming to work each day.

I became involved in the union movement because I saw my adjunct colleagues struggling in a number of ways. Many of them were scrambling to make ends meet, often my teaching at two or sometimes even three universities to earn enough money to live on, and suffering from the lack of benefits. They were never sure until the last minute whether they would be hired again for the next semester. And sometimes, having put weeks or months into planning a course they would find it had been cancelled the week before school started, which left them uncompensated for their work and unable to find other positions at such a late date. It also doesn’t seem right that professors who have taught at Bentley for years and have demonstrated their competence, quality and commitment still have to sign contracts one semester at a time — I have signed 31 separate contracts in my time at Bentley.

All of this is contrary to Bentley’s strategic plan for 2013 to 2017, which includes the following goals: to “develop and sustain a community-oriented environment” and to “employ, develop and reward high-quality, passionate people.”

Hiring faculty one semester at a time undermines a sense of community that helps students learn best. Moreover, the lack of predictability undermines adjuncts focusing primarily on Bentley students because they constantly need to seek employment while they are at Bentley. Contingent hiring, therefore, doesn’t encourage Bentley to invest in developing and rewarding high quality, passionate and devoted professors, and since Bentley adjuncts make a serious commitment to Bentley it should be reciprocated by the university.

We would like to see changes that help us get closer to Bentley’s stated goals of developing and sustaining a community-oriented environment and employing, developing and rewarding high-quality, passionate people, and we are proposing the following:

  1. Longer appointments, with course guarantees for those who have been teaching for a certain number of years.
  2. Compensation for cancelled courses.
  3. Priority consideration for long-term adjuncts when assigning courses.
  4. Opportunities for adjuncts to teach more courses if they become available.
  5. Opportunities for adjuncts to obtain full-time jobs based on experience and performance.


Barbara Nash, Adjunct Assistant Professor