Thursday, April 2nd, 2009


According to two adjunct faculty in the Fine Arts Department of the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design, approximately one third of the adjunct faculty, 12 teachers out of 42, have been abruptly fired. The nine adjunct faculty who were fired or given the Orwellian status of ‘non-rehired’ by the school and the three grandparented faculty who were told that there were no classes for them to teach in the Fine Arts Department in 2009/10, found out about their job losses in tersely worded emails sent out right before the students and faculty adjourned for spring recess.

Drake indicates that “two grandparented faculty”, in addition to the three noted above, who had a certain number of courses assigned to them for the 2009/10 school year but not a sufficient amount to meet the terms of their contract, “had classes taken from them without discussion or replacement, against union rules.”

Deborah Kirschner, Associate Communications Director at The New School, however, told artcritical in an email that these five grandparented faculty will be assigned the appropriate course load by June 1. This would bring the number of adjunct faculty who were not rehired from 12 to nine, but 12 adjunct faculty in the Fine Arts Department won’t be returning that department in the fall. Kirschner pointed out that with regards to the nine non rehires, “there is still a chance that they will teach again at The New School in the future.”

The ‘non-rehired’ adjunct faculty and the adjunct faculty that were not offered any new courses for the upcoming academic year thus far had a wide range of experience working at the school. One had just completed their first year there and another had been at the school for 34 years.

According to Drake, the firings will bring about a change in the MFA department of the Fine Arts Department. Almost all of the teachers in the MFA department will be shifted into the BFA department, and, according to Drake, this is part of a trend in the Fine Arts Department to move away from teaching traditional object making. The ‘non-rehiring’ will leave a number of vacated positions in the MFA department. Kirschner had no direct comment to make about this but she did include a statement by Sven Travis, Dean of the School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons The New School for Design, in her email to artcritical which states, “No cuts are being made to the number of faculty in the Fine Arts programs at Parsons; in fact, the faculty body is growing. Due to curricular changes underway in the programs, a handful of part-time faculty with probationary status under their union contract and who teach semester to semester have not been assigned for the fall, but may be assigned in the future subject to need.” If this is in fact true, then it is to be expected that the non-rehired faculty will be replaced.

According to Kirschner, three out of nine adjunct faculty who will not be rehired for the fall semester did not expect to be rehired for various reasons. This has not been confirmed by the three non-rehired instructors at this time. With regards to the three adjunct faculty who were considered “annual” or “grandfathered” because they had worked at the school anywhere from five to 34 years, they did not get any course load assigned to them yet, but they are “actively seeking courses for them to teach in other departments”. Kirschner also says that an additional two grandfathered adjunct faculty, who are not counted among the 12 adjunct faculty referred to above, are waiting to get additional courses assigned to them for fall 2009/10.

Peter Drake stated that the College Art Association has submitted a letter of complaint to Parsons the New School for Design because of their treatment of adjunct faculty. The subjects taught by the adjunct faculty that were ‘non-rehired’ include Drawing, Sculpture, Painting, Professional Practices, Theory Practice and Career.

special to artcritical: 4.2.2009 (composite of earlier postings, 3.31 and 4.2.2009)