sort of like a Schoolhouse Rocks video…

Remember this? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.  Or in the case of an adjunct, work and paychecks and classes.

Recently, the community college system in Madison, Wisconsin decided that in order to increase their ‘faculty facetime’ with students, and to reach a goal of having 75% of classes taught by full-time faculty, they’d offer overload pay to their FT faculty at the expense of adjuncts, who, understandably, did not take it well.  This is something we hear every day.  But what got me was not the article (which can be found here), but the comment down the page which quoted a university president as saying “full timers were practicing was a profession and a vocation while what the adjuncts were practicing was an avocation”.

Excuse me?  Just because I don’t have a tenure-track position doesn’t mean I’m any less invested…in fact, I’m more invested.  Unlike a tenured colleague, I can be fired — okay, not asked back — if my evaluations suck.  I have no job security, no benefits, and no real way of participating in campus life other than what my department and dean are willing to give me (although I will tell you that at my current school, my dean is a dream).  This is my vocation.  If I was doing this on a whim, trust me, I could find a job somewhere else, doing something different, that paid me far more, and gave me pride of ownership in ways that adjuncting cannot.

Perhaps in the past (the 1980s, for instance), when money was plentiful and full-time positions were fast and furious, adjuncts were people who had come to teaching at a later date, having had a fulfilling career somewhere outside of academia.  Or perhaps they were industry specialists teaching specialized courses (for instance, I once had a class about the American West taught by a former Congressman from Montana…oh wait, he was faculty).  But my reality, and the reality of many of my peers, is that there aren’t TT jobs open, and if we are to continue to teach, adjuncting is the only option we have.  We aren’t doing this because we’re dabbling in teaching.  We are teachers.  And researchers.  And just as smart and educated and committed to the mission of the university, college, or community college as the full-timers are.

The truth of the matter is, we are second-class citizens.  I’m not asking that every adjunct faculty member be hired right this minute…that’s not possible.  But perhaps, rather than doing full-on job searches, why not re-write the rules so that adjuncts who already know the campus can be hired from within?  Vancouver has a program to do this…why can’t other community colleges, colleges, and universities do the same?    In fact, why isn’t this the norm?  It seems self-evident.  People who have already invested time and effort into a school’s students should get preference in hiring.  They don’t need to learn the culture, and they’re already on the payroll.  They also have already proven they can do the work, and do it well (or a campus wouldn’t have them back, right?).  So why not give us adjuncts a chance?

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Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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