Category Archives: Adjunct Life


Valuing My Time

“Exciting opportunity! I mapped out some dates for writing workshops this upcoming spring semester. Please let me know if you would like to volunteer as a presenter.” I don’t blame the writing-center coordinator who sent me this optimistic message. He’s just doing his job, trying to provide learning opportunities for the students who come his way. But reading his full email left me feeling as  if a Nigerian prince were offering me a chance to make big money.

Service is an important part of acad…


Applying While Adjunct

I enjoyed reading George David Clark’s recent piece about teaching statements. My whole focus, as a professor at a community college, is on what I do in the classroom. I still have the statement I wrote as part of my student-teaching application, oh so long ago. I won’t quote it here, as it waxes a bit philosophical and makes me cringe when I recall my naïveté.

There’s another part of the application process that I want to focus on here: letters of recommendation. As an adjunct and as someone wh…


The Future of Adjuncts

I see two possible futures:

In one, I create a line of T-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming “Adjuncts Do It Better.” I see a huge market here and am sure that I could successfully advertise such products and pay for my kids to go to college. With so many of us, I could eventually move into branded car loans, credit unions, and even mortuary services.

In the other, the word adjunct disappears. I see a hazy future in which 90 percent or more of those who teach in college classrooms are full-ti…


Adjunct vs. Tenure-Track

I struggle with staff meetings where the tenured and tenure-track faculty in my department pay lip service to the hard-working, much-maligned, and unappreciated adjuncts who fill out the department. Nice words, twice a year, don’t do much to counteract the pervasive attitude of disrespect.

To be fair, tenured and tenure-track faculty members have to do much more than teach classes. They are responsible for the committees and decisions that make the college run. All of those adjuncts, who saunter…


Loyal, but in Which Direction?

Friends of mine say that I’m loyal to a fault. They don’t know the half of it. The truth is, I have many faults, and I’m loyal to all of them.

OK, so that’s an old joke. But it helps me introduce a difficult and highly fraught topic: the loyalty that institutions show, or fail to show, to the people who work for them—particularly the part-time faculty.

Several weeks ago, I went to a high-school basketball game in my community. It was Senior Night, the last home game for the host team, when senio…


Extra-Credit Conundrum

“Consider offering extra credit for students who attend,” suggests e-mail after e-mail from various entities on campus. Senders are touting art exhibitions, philosophy debates, librarian outreach in the community, guest speakers, forums, and who knows what else.

These are great activities that would enrich my students if they attended. I hope they will do things outside of class to be part of the larger community. However, this message of extra credit is in direct opposition to the syllabus and …


Part-Time Faculty Handbook

A colleague is putting together a handbook for part-time faculty at our college. The current booklet we are given covers legal matters and requirements, but offers little in the way of helpful advice. The e-mail request for ideas for the new handbook has been sitting in my inbox for weeks as I’ve tried to think about what information new people need.

My biggest request? Tell me and other part-timers who to go to for help. The organizational structure at my institution is confusing at best. If I …



Allison Vaillancourt has written great posts here about manners and interpersonal relationships in the workplace. I’d like to chime in with a few simple things that would go a long way toward making contingent faculty members feel less like second-class citizens. Really, though, these are tips for all of us that shouldn’t have to be spelled out. Unfortunately, these come from personal experience.

First, answer e-mails. Just because I’m not at all of your staff meetings, it would be nice if you, …


Why Did I Get an F?

On the first day of Christmas break I got an e-mail from the dean’s office. Not a mass e-mail, one just to me. Terror, panic, irrational butterflies.

It was fine, of course. A student had contested her grade. This was my first such experience in more than a decade. The dean outlined the student’s reasoning and asked if I was willing to work on a resolution.

After I realized that I wasn’t in trouble, I read through the e-mail a few more times.

I had worked extensively with the student in question…


Put Your Money Where Your Adjuncts Are

Comments here and elsewhere on The Chronicle’s pages indicate that some people are tired of hearing about contingent-faculty issues. I’m sorry for those readers—how frustrating to not have everything geared toward your needs. Imagine how those of us off the tenure track feel when virtually all content about higher education speaks to a reality that we aren’t experiencing.

I recently applied for and received a grant to attend a national conference. The funds, from the National Council of Teachers…