Our Stories

Regular Rank Faculty (scroll down for Non-Regular Rank Faculty)

Carol Apollonio: Professor of the Practice of Russian (Slavic and Eurasian Studies)

UntitledI’ve taught at Duke for over thirty years, first in the invisible ranks, and then (beginning in the late 1980s) as one of the very first crop of Professors of the Practice. I’m proud to place teaching at the center of my mission, though I am also a recognized senior scholar and citizen in my field. At Duke, I contribute passionately in every imaginable area of undergraduate life, in faculty governance, and in many other capacities. This long service testifies to my devotion to the institution and to our wonderful students.

As a long-term non-tenure track faculty member, I have had the opportunity to observe things that change, and things that do not. It is the things that do not change that have convinced me to join my colleagues in forming a union. Non-tenure track faculty remain second-class citizens in many areas, denied access to opportunities, support, and compensation taken for granted by tenure-track faculty. Many of us are excluded in subtle and not subtle ways from the collegial life of the faculty as a whole. Our colleagues in the lower ranks often cannot count on having a job from one year to the next. Non-tenure track professors have been off the radar in administrative offices.

Salaries remain well below what they should be. Duke has always emphasized its commitment to “teaching first.” Serving our amazing students is at the center of everything we do. I share in that commitment, and am proud to join this effort to raise standards for everyone for whom teaching is our primary mission.

Rebecca Bach: Associate Professor of the Practice of Sociology

Rebecca Bach

The situation for adjuncts is that of an underclass in the Duke system. Full professors at Duke are among the highest paid in the country. Assistant professors can start at over $100,000 per year. An adjunct who is paid to teach two courses a semester, a full teaching load in many departments, earns just $30,000 per year and has no benefits or job security. A union provides the only opportunity for contingent faculty to support ourselves and our families.

David Banks: Professor of the Practice in Statistics

David Banks Faculty Statistical Science  Duke UniversityCollective bargaining is a distinguished American tradition, and one that is firmly founded upon academic values of fairness and transparency. When employees have concerns or grievances, unionization is their only practical option. Joining together to form our union with Faculty Forward will allow us to make life better for all faculty and students at Duke.






Rann Bar-On: Lecturer in Mathematics

Rann Baron_SMALLI have been at Duke since 2003, first as a PhD student, and now as teaching faculty. In all those years, it has been an honor to pursue my passion for teaching mathematics to bright, ambitious undergraduates from extremely diverse backgrounds.

As a lecturer in the Mathematics Department, I have been treated relatively well at Duke: I am paid enough to consider buying a house and raising a family in it, and I have a five year contract. Yet when I speak to my colleagues across campus, especially those do not work on Science Drive, I find that my situation is not the norm.

To my mind, if knowledge is produced, but not understood, it may as well not have been produced in the first place. I believe that the primary role of the university is instruction in its many forms: from classroom lectures to research experiences. I decided to join Duke Teaching First because I do not see these values reflected consistently in the way we’re treated as contingent faculty at Duke.

Contingent faculty carry out a large proportion of teaching, yet we do not all have the benefits and security that Duke can clearly afford in this time of rapid growth. By coming together to form our union, we can link arms and demand the respect we all deserve as we make teaching our career. We all worked hard to get here, and we should all be able to feel secure and appreciated at Duke.

Jack Bookman: Emeritus Professor of the Practice in Mathematics

u1739From 1982-2012, I was a contingent faculty member at Duke University holding, at one time or another, all ranks from Instructor to Professor of the Practice. I strongly support the current effort to unionize non-tenure track faculty at Duke. While conditions for POPs at Duke have improved over the last 10 or so years, conditions for other non-tenure faculty (“tenuous” faculty, as a colleague of mine called himself) do not seem to have improved at all. POPs and, to a larger extent, other non-TT faculty have low pay, little or no voice in departmental decision making, large “voluntary” service obligations and little or no job security.

During my last years at Duke, I had a supportive chair who helped improve conditions for the POPs in my department. Prior to that the previous chair created a hostile environment for non-TT faculty. In any case, the welfare of faculty should not depend on the whims of department chairs or other administrators. A strong union is the only the protection non-TT faculty can hope to have.

Alexander Motten: Associate Professor of the Practice of Biology

Motten cropped

A significant proportion of undergraduate teaching at Duke is carried out by non-tenure track faculty, but salaries, workloads, lengths of contract, and opportunities for advancement vary greatly. While many of us are no doubt well treated, others among us rightfully feel taken advantage of. My impression is that the University’s commitment to non-tenure track faculty as a group has diminished in recent years, and I would like to see that issue addressed so that our undergraduates can be assured of the high quality teaching they deserve. I support forming the union so that we will have a real voice to make sure that it is.




Non-Regular Rank Faculty

Antonio Bogaert: Visiting Assistant Professor in Arts of the Moving Image

Antonio BogaertI have taught at Duke as a lecturer in Photography since 2009. During the past seven years my colleagues and I have helped to foster enthusiasm and passion for the study and practice of the Visual Arts at Duke. The result of our efforts is a high attendance rate and a growing interest in and demand for seminar courses in the arts. I am very grateful for this because the creative arts tap into other mind springs that help students lead a well-rounded life.

I feel, however, that as a contracted teacher, along with many others employed in every discipline at Duke, there is neither job security nor appreciation and recognition of our contribution to the university.

I hope by the formation of a union we can share a collective voice to promote understanding of our needs and gain equal opportunity, fairness, and job security.

This movement will benefit the entire Duke community, students and faculty alike. It will enhance the image of the university and demonstrate ethical academic concepts which will encourage students to practice these values in their own lives.

Bill Brown: Lecturing Fellow in Arts of the Moving Image

Bill BrownI’ve been teaching at Duke for four years. It’s a great place to work. But “being your own best representative” is a lonely proposition. There are times when I, like many of my colleagues, struggle to make ends meet. A union gives faculty a chance to represent ourselves, and to work together to find the basic support and stability we need to excel as teachers and scholars. We’re better off when we join together and look out for each other. That’s why I support Duke Teaching First.





Diane Bryson: Instructor in the Graduate School

Diane BrysonI support Duke Teaching First because, while I have a regular salary, health benefits, and retirement savings, my adjunct colleagues in the English for International Students program do not share any of these benefits. While working with my colleagues for the benefit of students, I do not distinguish between who is a full-time colleague and who is an adjunct colleague. We treat each other as equals, discuss all aspects of our profession freely and contribute equally to the well-being of students, the EIS Program, and the Duke community. Being equal means sharing similar conditions, and I want my colleagues to share in the benefits that I receive. I know the only way this will happen is if we all work together collectively despite an effort to divide us. I feel that the working conditions for all faculty should reflect their equal commitment to excellence and service to students and to the larger Duke community. By voicing our collective concerns, it is our hope that Duke can regain its integrity and become a place where we are all fairly supported and proud to work.

Rebecca Cary: Instructor in Biology

Becky CaryI’ve been teaching at Duke for a little over ten years now. I love my students. I love their enthusiasm. I flat out tell my students that I plan to brainwash them into thinking Biology is awesome and I love getting to do that. I love my colleagues and how supportive we are of one another. Most of all and I love teaching.

I support forming a union because, left to its own devices, the university doesn’t treat people of “lesser” status very well. People that make Duke University work day to day are treated as insignificant. They have little job security, few benefits, and low pay. We are the people without whom Duke doesn’t run.

This union is for everybody. It’s not an outside force. This union is us. It’s not about pulling anyone down, it’s about bringing everyone up. It’s not about setting a maximum for anyone. It’s about setting standards that are guaranteed for everyone. It’s about maintaining the things that are already great and giving us a way to make things even better in the future.

Tara Clarke: Visiting Assistant Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology

Tara ClarkeLanding a job in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University was literally a dream come true. It is so inspiring to be able to work alongside such innovative, passionate, and committed faculty. Everyday I feel lucky to be able to teach and engage with such bright and committed students. Despite my positive experience, it is discouraging to know the depth of inequality across our institution, in regards to job security, salaries, health benefits, and access to professional development funding. In order to see dramatic institutional changes that can create a more equitable working environment, we, as faculty, need to stand together and be a united front. My hope is that more of the Duke academic community will join us and speak out for change.

Cristina Del Carpio: Instructor in Biology


This is my fifth year teaching at Duke. I love working with individual students and helping them get to their “ah ha!” moment. I support the union as a way to protect everyone. There are people at Duke that have been here longer than me, but they don’t have health insurance or job security. Our ability to take care of ourselves impacts our students and a union will help us do that.

The union will protect the good things that a lot of faculty already have, and help fix many of the problems that faculty of all ranks still face. It gives us a voice to control how we interact with the university to discuss, as equals, the opportunities it gives us and our students.

Bill Fick: Visiting Assistant Professor in Art, Art History & Visual Studies

Bill FickI’ve been teaching at Duke for 9 years. It’s a wonderful community of scholars, students and staff that are deeply involved with dynamic and exciting research and studies. I believe that coming together with my colleagues will give voice to a group of faculty that exist on the margins. A union will help define who we are and what our place is in the Duke community. Our students will know that we’re fully engaged in the life of the university and that they can count on us to be around if they feel like investing in us as mentors. I want my colleagues to join me so that we can all make an investment in the university—get fully engaged in a place where you can practice what you’re passionate about and share that with students and colleagues.

Matteo Gilebbi: Lecturing Fellow in Italian

Matteo Gilebbi_SMALLI have taught as a non-tenure track faculty member at Duke for seven years. As a contracted instructor—even though I spend long hours planning, teaching, grading, and meeting with students—I often feel like a second-class citizen on campus.

Universities often sell themselves as “big families,” where everyone has an equally important role. In reality, those of us who jump from contract to contract at Duke are made to feel less valuable and disposable.

That’s why I decided to join with my colleagues to form a union. Together, we are strengthening our voice and working to raise standards for all faculty and students. I hope you’ll join us in standing together as Duke Teaching First.


Jim Haverkamp: Instructor in Arts of the Moving Image

Jim HaverkampIt’s important to stand together because that’s the only way we can ensure that we’ll have an official seat at the table. We know that we are important contributors to our students’ experience at Duke, and by taking this step, we’ll be able to participate fully in discussions about not only our future, but the direction that Duke will take in the years ahead. It’s exciting to think of what the entire university community can achieve by working together.


Gary Hawkins: Visiting Lecturer in the Center for Documentary Studies

Gary HawkinsI support Duke Teaching First because the initiative is fundamental to Duke University’s pledge of comprehensive excellence. Unfortunately, Duke has slipped into “selective excellence” nowadays, due largely to its reliance on an economic model that is fundamentally exploitative and unfair.







Elizabeth Landesberg: Instructor in Arts of the Moving Image

EB Landesberg

I believe in coming together with my colleagues to strengthen the community of contingent faculty university-wide, and to raise our voices for more job security and support from Duke. As educators we invest time, energy and resources in our students and courses—shouldn’t Duke do the same for us? Winning a union here would set an important precedent for other institutions in North Carolina and beyond: that quality higher education requires a real commitment to the educators themselves.





Dana Marks: Visiting Lecturer in Theater Studies

VERYFAV.DSC_0051I support Duke Teaching First because it makes sense for institutions to take pride in who they hire, not treat them as disposable.






Genna Miller: Instructor in Economics Department

Genna MillerI’m joining with my colleagues to form a union because I believe that we deserve better job stability as contingent faculty. I’ve been teaching at Duke for 15 years as an adjunct, and each year I don’t know if I’ll be able to teach the following year. It doesn’t feel good to live with that uncertainty. After 15 years, I deserve better.



Bruce Orenstein: Artist in Residence in the Center for Documentary Studies

Bruce OrensteinI’ve been at Duke for 5 years and I want it to be a great place for everyone. It hurts students to have faculty who don’t have job security and are constantly juggling other gigs. I’m for a faculty union because I want to support my colleagues: outstanding instructors who have taught at Duke for seven, ten, fourteen years. They deserve more job security and better benefits.







John Orr: Instructor of Recreation and Physical Education

John mugDuke University is a wonderful institution of higher learning. But to not fairly compensate those of us who contribute in significant ways to making Duke what it is today is unjust. For too long, there has been a disparity in salary and benefits for those of us who are non-tenure track teachers. We now have the opportunity to change this unfair system for the benefit of the students, faculty and the university. Please join us in doing the right thing for EVERYONE together by helping form our union with Faculty Forward!


Peter Pihos: Lecturing Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program

Peter PihosThis is my fourth semester teaching at Duke. I love working with first year students as they are exploring who they want to be and what they want to study. Giving those students the tools they need to become independent thinkers is my great joy. I support coming together with my colleagues because working together as scholars and teachers builds a better university. I want my colleagues—I want all of us—to play a role in creating a more democratic workplace. We shouldn’t fear coming together—this union drive is our chance to improve our workplaces and the University.



Andrea Scapolo: Lecturing Fellow in Italian

Andrea Scapolo _sMALLSince 2010, I’ve worked at Duke as a non-tenure track faculty member. I consider myself blessed to teach Italian language and culture to bright and committed students, and I’m proud to collaborate with some of the finest faculty in the country.

I decided to join Duke Teaching First in order to protect and improve the quality of teaching and learning for my students. I’m concerned about the future of higher education in our country, and I know that we can only turn it around it we come together with our colleagues across campus and across the country.

Contingent faculty offer a critical contribution to the university: we teach many of the classes, attract majors and minors to our departments and programs, and guarantee the best learning environment to our students. In return, we receive no job security, very little recognition and low pay. Some of us don’t even have access to basic benefits like health insurance or retirement funds.

I strongly believe that making improvements for non-tenure track faculty is not only a matter of basic fairness, it’s also in the best interest of our students and the entire Duke community. I hope you will join us at Duke Teaching First as part of the Faculty Forward movement, where faculty across the country are uniting to raise standards in higher education.

Christopher Shreve: Instructor in Biology

Chris ShreveI’ve been teaching at Duke for twelve years in a variety of courses. I love that I get to introduce students to things that they never thought they would understand. I love the support I get from my other lab instructors and our community.

I support our union because everyone can see the trends in higher education toward fewer tenured positions and more ephemeral appointments. This revolving door of faculty destabilizes the curriculum and erodes the fabric of student faculty relationships. A union will give us a forum and a voice to impact our courses and work environment. It will give us an avenue to alleviate much of the anxiety that detracts from the work of teaching, research, and service.

The union will be us and we all have a place in it. There will be no outcome other than the one that we all seek together. If you have it good, awesome, we can work together to make it great. If you have it lousy we can work together to make it good.

Roman Testroet: Visiting Instructor in Music

Roman TestroetAs a former graduate student at Duke, I have been immensely grateful for the part-time employment opportunities afforded me by the university and the Department of Music over the past several years. As we all know, the crux of the issue is that there are always legions of immensely-qualified PhDs willing to do the same teaching for even less pay and security. Wolves at the gate! And I sincerely feel very lucky whenever I am contacted for work, which I am in no way “owed.”

I don’t have a family to help support, nor do I own a home. I’ve defaulted on my student loans and was briefly homeless. And I don’t think Duke Teaching First is going to instantly grant complete security to intrinsically insecure models of living. But I do know that I struggle to imagine any group of workers that I feel should not have access to these basic collective bargaining rights, which I am frankly bummed are still contentious even in 2016.

Considering the impending “reshaping” (to use a pretty stark euphemism) of the American academy in the coming years, it seems especially important to have job protections in place—now more than ever. Thus I’m delighted to lend my small voice to the cause of unionization, even as the most part-time of part-timers.