I’m joining the army of adjuncts.
But I’m doing it in a partial way. Instead of designing my
own courses, I’m teaching labs for an established course with established lab
modules. So in effect, I’m an adjunct TA, as I’ll be doing something very
similar to my graduate school TA experience. I’m not complaining, because this
is going to involve significantly less stress, but I do wonder how much it will
help the ol’ C.V. In any case, it will definitely help the ol’ pocketbook.
A couple days ago I attended the orientation for the small
college where I’ll be teaching. It was for all new faculty, adjunct plus
first-year tenure track professors. I was a bit surprised that this college was
hiring adjuncts, as its feel and philosophy is similar to my undergraduate
experience at a small liberal arts college, but then I realized that our
adjuncts went by the friendly term ‘visiting professors’. I enjoyed talking
with the new faculty – most of us were young, a good portion were ABD, but some
were older folks who used it as an income supplement. Most were in the
Communications department, which the assistant dean of the faculty told me was
the fastest-growing major on campus. I asked him about the proportion of
adjunct professors versus tenure-track; more adjuncts are definitely getting
hired, but the college is also attempting to increase its enrollment. We heard
one example of an adjunct ultimately hired as an assistant professor, and I
wonder if any of those Communications adjuncts will be tapped for full-time
positions. One non-communications hire told me that this was one of four
institutions she’d be adjuncting at this semester alone. Although that sounds
extreme, I doubt it’s that unusual, especially in a major metropolitan area.
She offered to fill me in on how other area schools treat their adjuncts, given
her wide experience.
One difference I suspect exists between this small college
and a community college or university adjunct position is the amount of
teaching support they offer. We were told that we were not teaching alone, and
everyone emphasized a positive, supporting community at the college. As an
adjunct, I can request a senior faculty member mentor, an independent
assessment of teaching, and participate in a teaching support group of my peers.
In fact, there are more opportunities than I’ll probably be able to take
advantage with my limited schedule (I’ll continue with my post-doc as well).
All of this makes me more comfortable as a temporary staff member.
In the meantime – have you had any experience an adjunct? Is
it a necessary C.V. line at this point, even if you’re not interested in