Sunday, October 27, 2013

A CM Flashback from Middle-Aged and Morose. Three Years Ago Today. Adjuncts and Scholarship.


Unclean! Unclean!

So I get this email, an administrator at my university is collecting books and articles from professors for a display. They want to brag about their professors' academic accomplishments in front of the students and alumni for an upcoming event. Great! I email them, “May I participate? My book just came out and it’s been well-received.” They reply, “No, full time professors only.” WTF? Oh wait, that’s right, I’m just an adjunct. The book store sends out an email. They have a display of books written by faculty. Please let them know if we've published anything. Great! I given them some information about my book. Oops, sorry. That's not for adjuncts!

OK, I'm an adjunct. I’ve also taught every semester for the past four years and am already on the schedule not only for the rest of this year, but for the next school year as well. I’ve been a member of the department longer than a third of the full-timers. I’ve published more peer-reviewed material than all but one of the other instructors. Hell, excepting that one other professor—who does publish quite a bit, and it’s good stuff too!—I’ve published more than the rest of the department combined over the past several years. Oh wait, that’s right, I’m just an adjunct.

"But," I hear them say, "you're not part of the college community!" Really? I've gone to see my students' art shows. My wife and I have cheered them on at sporting events. We've attended their plays and I've gone to the honors society inductions and greeted my students' parents. Students come to me for letters of recommendation. I'm even the faculty adviser for a student club. Oh wait, that’s right, I’m just an adjunct.

Seriously, if the profession is going to depend on part-timers to fill the ranks of instructors, maybe, just maybe academia needs to rethink how adjuncts are treated. Call me crazy but maybe, just maybe, we’re often scholars as well……


  1. Most administrators don't think of part-timers as people. They're just plugs that go into holes. The idea that they do anything else is too much for their brains.

  2. Says the President to the Dean, "Because you've done so well at keeping employment costs down, I'm recommending you for a bonus this year."

  3. That fact that a significant proportion of non-tenure-track faculty are as or more productive, research-wise, than some of their tenure-track colleagues is one of the dirty little secrets of academia.

    The other, of course, is that a ridiculous number of institutions are trying to move one rung up the ladder on the Carnegie research scale when they might serve their various constituencies far better by redirecting more of their resources toward excellent undergraduate teaching. But where's the prestige in that?