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Regular rank faculty in support of contingent faculty union efforts

Duke has sought from its founding to provide “real leadership in the educational world.” As our university transforms in the twenty-first century, we must articulate how its values should be implemented, particularly with respect to its core mission of scholarship and teaching. Everyone who sets foot in the classroom represents Duke and plays an important role in providing a world-class education to our students, but not all of our teaching colleagues receive world-class treatment in return. As tenured and tenure track faculty, it is our obligation to ensure that all faculty receive the fair compensation and access to the necessary tools required to provide students with teaching and mentorship of the highest caliber.

Until the recent past, Duke hired “non-regular rank” faculty to teach over fixed terms to fill temporary University needs. Over time, however, Duke increasingly chooses to hire faculty members using short-term labor contracts. While the faculty grew by a third between 2005 and 2015, 67 percent of new hires were not in the tenure system. Many non-regular rank faculty, including people who have taught at Duke for a decade or more, work on a succession of term-to-term or year-to-year contracts, with no security. The vast majority of non-regular rank faculty has a terminal degree, and most are active professionally in their fields, but they are paid on average a little more than $30,000 per year. Even as they have become regular partners in educating our students, they continue to be treated as a class apart: non-regular.

Last spring, these colleagues voted overwhelmingly—174 to 29—to form a union. Over the past six months, their negotiations with University administrators have produced significant agreement, including on some matters important to their role in the classroom, such access to photocopiers, computers, and space to meet with students. The issues that remain outstanding are of the utmost significance to Duke’s leadership as a teaching and research institution. This is why we support the demands of non-regular rank faculty for

  • longer term contracts so that they can fully participate in the life of the university,
  • clear and fair standards for compensation and duties so that they can support their teaching and research, and
  • benefits that are equivalent to those of regular-rank faculty.

In today’s competitive environment, given the fiscal constraints, all universities have difficult choices to make about their values. To fulfill our educational mission of guiding students “intellectual growth” a well as “their development as adults committed to high ethical standards,” Duke University has the opportunity to take a leadership position in the broader academic community as reflected in our treatment and respect for all faculty. Please join us in supporting our colleagues in achieving a just and equitable contract.


William A. Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Professor in Public Policy

Walter Mignolo, William H Wannamaker Professor in Literature

Wahneema Lubiano, Associate Professor in African & African American Studies & Literature

Tsitsi Jaji, Associate Professor in English and African and African American Studies

Toril Moi, James B. Duke Professor in Literature

Thomas Pfau, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English in Germanic Language and Literature

Stephanie Sieburth, Professor in Romance Studies

Shai Ginsburg, Associate Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Sally Deutsch, Professor in History

Robyn Wiegman, Professor in Literature

Roberto Dainatto, Professor in Romance Studies

Rebecca l. Stein, Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Ralph Litzinger, Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Priscilla Wald, Professor in English and Women's Studies

Paul J. Griffiths, Warren Chair of Catholic Theology in Duke Divinity School

Orin Starn, Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Omid Safi, Professor & Director of Islamic Studies Center in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Nayong Aimee Kwon, Associate Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Professor of History, Public Policy, and Women's Studies in History

miriam cooke, Braxton Craven Professor of Arab Cultures in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Michaeline Crichlow, Professor in The Kenan Institute of Ethics

Michael Hardt, Professor in Literature

Micaela Janan, Professor in Classical Studies

Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Professor of Theology in Divinity School

Mark Anthony Neal, Professor in African & African American Studies

Margaret R Greer, Professor Emeritus in Romance Studies

Liliana Paredes, Professor of the Practice in Romance Studies

Leo Ching, Associate Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Kunshan Carolyn Lee, Professor of the Practice in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

John Huston, Associate Professor in History

Jocelyn Olcott, Associate Professor in History and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

Joan Clifford, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Romance Studies

Jehanne Gheith, Associate Professor in Slavic and the Program in Education Studies

Jedediah Purdy, Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law in Law School

Jack Bookman, Professor of the Practice Emeritus in Mathematics

J. Lorand Matory, Lawrence Richardson Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Irene Silverblatt, Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Hitomi Endo, Associate Professor of the Practice in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Guo-Juin Hong, Associate Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Fredric Jameson, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature in Literature

Engseng Ho, Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Ellen McLarney, Associate Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Diane M. Nelson, Professor in Cultural Anthropology

David Wong, Susan Fox Beischer and George D Beischer Professor in Philosophy

Claudia Milian, Associate Professor in Romance Studies

Claudia Koonz, Peabody Family Professor Emeritus in History

Christine Drea, Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology

Charlie Piot, Professor in Cultural Anthropology

Charles Thompson, Professor of Practice in Cultural Anthropology

Carlos Rojas, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Ariel Dorfman, Walter Hines Pages Professor Emeritus of Literature in Literature

Ara Wilson, Associate Professor in Women's Studies

Anne-Maria Makhulu, Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology and African and African

Anne Allison, Professor in Cultural Anthropology


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