What to know about changes in Temple’s IH department

For weeks, IH faculty held informative events and canvassed buildings to inform the public about alleged job cuts in the department – now confirmed to not be happening.

The IH department has told adjunct faculty that job cuts will not take place. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The job security of adjunct faculty in Temple’s Intellectual Heritage department is uncertain after almost a month of advocating for themselves and their jobs and recently being reassured that mass layoffs would not happen.

In a mid-February department-wide email from IH department director Heath Fogg Davis, IH adjunct professors were informed that fewer class sections will be available for adjunct faculty to teach.

The email, coupled with verbal discussions and meetings with IH administrators, began a faculty-wide panic surrounding job security. IH adjunct and full-time professors came together to hold “Teach-In” events, hand out flyers, hang up posters on campus and reach out to local newspapers in hopes of informing students and the public about what they believed were going to be mass job cuts.

A month later, another IH administrator wrote that all adjuncts who want to teach are being offered classes in the Fall semester. 

Here’s the latest on this developing situation.


Deborah Lemieur, adjunct constituency council chair for the Temple Association of University Professionals and an IH faculty member, said she spoke with an IH administrator on Feb. 16, who told Lemieur they did not anticipate rehiring any current IH adjunct faculty for the Fall 2024 semester — meaning all 22 IH adjunct faculty members would be out of a job.

Adjunct faculty are part-time employees who work on semester-to-semester appointment letters rather than yearly contracts. They also do not have a path to full-time work.

Davis denied that anyone in the IH department had that discussion or made a statement about not rehiring.

Three days later, IH faculty received the department-wide email about the adjunct class reassignments for the next semester. 

“Because of declining undergraduate enrollment, the Dean has asked some [College of Liberal Arts] chairs to reassign some of their [non-tenure-track faculty] and tenure-track faculty to teach IH sections for the next academic year,” Davis wrote in the email sent to IH faculty and obtained by The Temple News. “The rationale behind this decision is to preserve the jobs of full-time faculty in the College. There is no reason to believe that any of our full-time faculty will not be reappointed as a result. This will necessarily mean fewer sections for part-time faculty in our program for the next academic year. However, it remains too early to say what the impact will be.”

IH was initially only taught by professors in other CLA departments, but the program has been developed to a point where some professors are hired solely for teaching IH. It’s not unusual, however, for the university to still rely on CLA professors to teach some sections, Davis told The Temple News.

The IH department held a regular faculty meeting on Feb. 21, two days after Davis’ email was sent. Adjunct professors spoke about their concerns on reassignments and there was a discussion about how the department would ensure the quality of IH classes. 

No finalized decisions about hiring were conveyed to adjunct faculty at this point, Davis said.

Adjunct professors began organizing after the meeting and putting flyers up — primarily in Gladfelter and Mazur Hall — to advertise “Teach-In,” events where faculty explain the current situation and what they could do to retain their jobs. Professors also spoke to students and local press in an attempt to keep the public informed about the situation. 


Some adjunct professors in the IH department, like David Lee, began searching for another job because of the lack of job security adjuncts generally face.

“I believed that I was guaranteed not to have a job at Temple in the fall,” Lee said. “I basically had to redouble my [job application] efforts. I have a child on the way, not a good time to be unemployed. Fortunately, I work at another university as well, so I wouldn’t be completely destitute. What was most upsetting to me was knowing that some of my friends would be without a job entirely.”

On March 13, the day before the first “Teach-In” event, the IH faculty received another email from the department about “the unreliable information” surrounding hiring.

“Every adjunct teaching this semester who has requested fall teaching is on [the draft fall schedule,]” an IH administrator wrote. “As [we] have explained at length now, we do have fewer fall sections to offer adjuncts overall. Most current adjuncts will be offered a single section; several adjuncts who were assigned only a single section this semester (but had requested two) will be offered two fall sections.”

Some adjuncts, like Lee, have taken this as a victory and believe their jobs are safe. Others, like Lemieur, are not comforted.

“At this point, IH has made this announcement that no IH adjuncts will be fired,” Lemieur said. “What I want to do is to make sure that everyone knows exactly what that means: nothing. It means nothing.”

It is written in an adjunct’s appointment letter that the college’s Dean has the right to cancel an adjunct’s class at their discretion. It’s possible to lose a class days before it starts, Lemieur said.

The college considers student enrollment when making hiring decisions, Davis said.

There were 3,000 less students enrolled in the Fall 2023 semester compared to Fall 2022. The IH department made a similar decision to rehire less adjunct faculty between Spring 2021 and Fall 2022, while the university was trying to financially recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Temple has reported an overall decrease to its budget; the operating budget was cut by $50 million this year and the university has cited both declining student enrollment and university budget for subsequent faculty job cuts.

“What happens at Temple and everywhere else is that when there is supposedly any kind of crisis, the most precarious, the most vulnerable faculty get punished,” Lee said. “I think that what was happening is what always happens. What was surprising was the scale of it. The idea that all of us, several dozen people with collectively several centuries worth of teaching experience would be let go all at once. That was pretty devastating.”


TAUP and the university have been negotiating their latest contract for seven months, where the union has repeated its goal of increasing job security for faculty. TAUP has proposals for mandatory multi-semester contracts for adjunct faculty of a certain number of years — applying to faculty like Lee, who has worked at Temple for 10 years, and Lemieur, who has worked in the IH department for 15 years.

“I have great relationships with the people I work for, I get great reviews from my students, do active work in my field – basically this would be enough to be qualified for tenure, had I actually got a tenure track job,” Lee said. “But because the job market is so terrible, because these cuts have gone on everywhere, these jobs just aren’t available. Temple, like many places, has been cutting genuine positions. People like me just have zero job security.”

Fifty-five percent of TAUP’s bargaining unit are uncertain if they’ll have a job next semester.

Additionally, the union wants to rework its retrenchment clause. Under this agreement in the 2019-2023 Collective Bargaining Contract, the university has the right to dismiss faculty members if there is a financial crisis that threatens the university’s survival or if there is a formal discontinuation of the class. However, if they are dismissed for these reasons, faculty are entitled to a temporary reassignment that suits them and the opportunity to return to their previous position if possible. The union wants to rewrite the article so that any form of non-contract renewal triggers retrenchment, Lemieur said.

As of March 18, both the university and union have submitted their economic proposals to discuss in negotiations.

“I want [professors] to realize that having us stand up and scream bloody murder made a difference,” Lemieur said. “They need to know that when we voice our protest, the administration does listen. If we are loud enough, and if we are strong enough, change can happen. So first, I want them to realize what IH is saying right now means nothing. Second, I want to focus on job security. And third, I want them to focus on the fact that they have power.”


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