By joining NFM, you take an important stand for the integrity of higher education. Whether or not your teaching is your primary source of income, and whether or not you want or have access to a full-time appointment or to tenure, your work is at the heart of higher education's mission. This fact alone entitles you -- and all of your colleagues -- to be treated with respect, professionalism, and fairness. Membership in NFM connects you to colleagues across the country who share your convictions about the importance of higher education and the need to hold institutions to the highest standard of ethical practice. Working together and working for each other and our students, adjunct and contingent faculty in NFM can use the power of our numbers to effect lasting, positive change.
When you join NFM you are no longer just an individual or part of a minority demographic fighting an uphill battle to change the culture of higher ed. If you have tried – or always wanted to try -- to get your department or institution to do the right thing by your colleagues on precarious appointments, then membership in NFM will give you the support you need. NFM can help you get to know and work with similarly dedicated colleagues on and off the tenure track, in administration and out in the community – redefining and reinvigorating the intellectual integrity, collegiality and autonomy that have always been the hallmark of a career in the professoriate.
NFM understands that administrators have unique challenges that often complicate efforts and solutions that seem to be self-evident and overdue. For those of you who confront those challenges as a responsibility of leadership, NFM provides practical and moral support. When you join NFM you will find a community ready to listen and to be listened to. If you believe that higher education should embody true shared governance and teach students democracy by example, then NFM is an unprecedented venue in which to transform those values into practice.
College is famously where you really learn to take responsibility for your own education and where you embrace the narrative that education leads to a better life in both tangible and intangible ways. Yet when the majority of the faculty you will encounter in your college career make less per hour than your high school friends working summer jobs at the grocery store, then you are right to ask hard questions of the institutions in whom you’ve put your trust and to whom you’ve paid ever-increasing tuition. Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions, and in 2012, the students at American University said it best. By supporting their professors and rejecting an exploitative “new normal” in higher education, they proved that students teach as well as learn.
From the time your child joins your family, you begin worrying about how you’re going to afford a college education for him or her, but NFM knows that you care as much about quality and value as cost. Parents who care about the lessons that are taught through campus policies as much as in classrooms appreciate that NFM stands for students’ right to be taught by professors who do not have to worry that adherence to standards of academic excellence will cost them their jobs. Just as you might object to buying college apparel that is produced by exploited workers, so do you object to paying college tuition that does not go to ensuring professional working and learning conditions. As parent and faculty member Lee Bessette has written: "perhaps my kids' biggest influence on me has been my move towards more vocally advocating (or trying to advocate) on behalf of those who are off the tenure-track. In 15 years if and when my daughter is getting ready to go to college, I want to have helped shape it for the better."
NFM knows that you want to find solid solutions to crises ranging from fiscal drought to remediation. You are looking for expertise that can help you devise sound higher education policies that benefit colleges, communities, and the country as a whole. NFM helps policymakers to understand how the exploitation of contingent faculty is an unacceptable, and, ultimately unsuccessful, strategy for decreasing college costs, preparing students to join the workforce, or ensuring the integrity of American higher education.
By engaging with NFM, policymakers fulfill their responsibility to respect and represent ALL of the citizens who teach and study in American institutions of higher education.
Over the years, media outlets from USA Today to The Nation and from the higher ed press to PBS have shone a steady light on the rapidly expanding sector of contingent faculty and the problems and questions raised by their employment situations. NFM works with and through the media to educate the public about the problem and the solutions.
At NFM we believe that education is a public good, that all citizens deserve the highest quality education possible, and that all working people in the United States have a right to a living wage. When workers, including educators, are exploited, their communities are not respected. The public has a right to expect that fellow citizens who invest in the education necessary to become college and university faculty will be provided with professional working conditions. NFM believes that all higher education institutions should be transparent and accountable to the public. Tools like the Modern Language Association's Academic Workforce Data Center and NFM Board Member Josh Boldt's The Adjunct Project provide more and better information to the public, allowing you to see the reality behind college marketing materials and traditional college rankings. By joining NFM and supporting its Foundation, you help us to provide you with the tools you need to make informed choices and to demand excellence of higher education.