Laurentian University part-time prof frustrated by lack of planning and research time
OCUFA says universities depend too much on part-time, sessional instructors
Ontarians want more full-time and fewer sessional professors in their universities, according to a poll commissioned by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and released at a news conference at Laurentian University.
The non-profit organization that represents 17,000 full-time and contracted staff said the quality of teaching in universities is suffering due to an growing reliance on sessional and part-time professors.
Gyllian Phillips, OCUFA's president, said contracted professors don't have the same resources or time to plan ahead as their full-time colleagues — and that people outside the academic realm are becoming aware of that fact.
"Ontarians clearly feel that universities should be model employers and should ensure that all the faculty teaching at universities receive equal pay, equal benefits and some job security," said Phillips.
The poll presented on Wednesday was completed by Mission Research. It surveyed 2,001 people of all ages across the province, including 500 in Northern Ontario.
Its results suggested that 64% of Ontarians want securely employed professors teaching university courses, and that 88% believe universities should convert more contract professors to full-time status before hiring more contract professors.
According to Mission Research president Heather Scott-Marshall, the poll's results were tested to be accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Part-time professor speaks out
Among those on hand at the news conference to discuss the poll on Wednesday at Laurentian University was Christopher Duncanson-Hales.
He's been a part-time sessional instructor for the past 10 years at Laurentian, where he teaches critical thinking, philosophy and religious studies.
He talked about the challenges of working as a sessional instructor, including the fact he made around $25,000 last year as a part-time professor with an average course load.
"Research and service, which are the other parts of an academic's job, are considered luxuries. It's just focus on the teaching, without recognizing that research and service is what makes teaching possible in the first place," said Duncanson-Hales.
He added his personal and family lives often take the brunt of the consequences.
"It means not being able to budget for anything because you don't know what your income is going to be at that point," notes Duncanson-Hales.
Laurentian University was expected to respond to the poll results on Thursday.