Characteristics of Community Colleges

Please note: the data used in this article is the most current available; we hope to have data for this century as soon as possible.

Characteristics of community college faculty

According to information in the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC):

  • There are over 160,000 part-time faculty (nationwide) who spend about 65% of their time teaching, 10% each on service and outside consulting, and 5% each on research, professional development, and administration.

  • Of the part-time instructors (nationwide), 57% are men, 88% white, 5% black, and 4% Hispanic. Approximately one-third are between the ages of 45 and 54, and 20% are age 55 or older. Slightly over 80% of the part-time instructors earn less than $10,000 in base salary.

A 1998-99 survey  of 33,785 faculty members at 378 colleges, universities, and community colleges found the following characteristics of college teachers:

  • The faculty aged; many faculty members are older; new-hires are needed.

  • Technology, a source of stress for faculty, was necessary for students to enhance their learning; compared to older faculty, younger faculty were more likely to use technology. 

  • Tenure was supported by many faculty, and those opposed were unlikely to receive it.

  • Although faculty believed racial and ethnic diversity in the student body enhanced the student's educational experience, many felt institutions were not making hiring of minority faculty a priority. In fact, 90% of the sample was White/Caucasian.

  • Faculty showed a lot of job satisfaction and satisfaction with their administration.

  • Faculty were committed to the academic success of their students and the welfare of their institutions.

  • Faculty had increased pressures of household responsibilities, including the physical and caring of aging parents.

  • Faculty believed colleges and universities were committed to involving students in the community.

  • Faculty were less personally committed to influencing the political structure, social values, or cleaning up the environment

  • The 1998-99 faculty survey suggested that women in academe have come closer to gaining gender justice, but "they still remain in the lower ranks of power, pay, and research productivity".

  • Women earned less than their male colleagues.

Characteristics of part-time instructors

teacher at blackboard

According to Gappa and Leslie [2] , there are many motivations for part-timers to teach in higher education.  Some work in the community colleges to pursue professional growth, such as obtaining a full-time academic position. Other part-timers may be seeking economic rewards.   Some part-timers work at community colleges as a way to “give back” to their community or to become a role model for those within a cultural background or life-situation.  Howard Tuckman [3] (as sited in Gappa and Leslie) has categorized the diversity of the part-timers into several categories:

  •  Semi-retired – former full-time academics

  •  Graduate students – working on doctorate degrees

  •  Hopeful full-timers - working at one or more institution until a full-time opening becomes available

  •  Full-mooners - those that work at another primary full-time occupation, which may be in or out of the field that is taught

  •  Part-mooners - working part-time at another job as well as teaching part-time.

  •  Home workers – work part-time because they have small children at home; part-time work may be their only source of income.  

dig deeper Characteristics of the California Community Colleges


[2] Gappa, J.M, and Leslie, D.W. (1993) The Invisible Faculty:  Improving the status of Part-timers in higher education. Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA

[3] Tucker, A.  (1978) Who is part-time in academe? AAUP Bulletin, 64, 305-315