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While earlier generations of adjuncts sometimes faced occasional struggles for good wages and respect, the recent cohort has been enjoying a decade-long "golden age."
"Look at any college campus," one anonymous adjuncter reports. "We have our choices of classes, small caps, full medical and dental, yet we don't have to worry about the extra work of committees and advising."
In fact, stories like Nathaniel Dunhoe's of Regis University in Denver are becoming more common. He petitioned his administration to strip his tenured status. "It reduced my teaching load, got me out of the target line of Deans and administrator, and now I just teach and write. I've had so much time this past year that I've written 2 books in my own discipline. And the money is astounding. Nobody tells you that when they're begging you to take a tenure track position. It was a bit of a secret, but the secret's out now."
Other perks that have developed over the past years have included free transportation and luxurious office space.
"We understand the inconvenience some adjuncts find in teaching at multiple campuses, and for us, it just made sense to work together with other area colleges to provide free shuttles to our adjuncts who choose to teach widely," said Northwestern University provost Vince Lecamier.
Shuttles pick up instructors like Darla Sweet after she finishes a class at Northwestern's main campus, and then deposit her in front of her classroom at Wilbur Wright College, one of Chicago's community colleges. "And it's a nice ride," Darla says. "The shuttles have free wi-fi, a stocked cooler of energy drinks and sodas, and I can really enjoy the city as I travel to another class. Really, getting to teach at a wide variety of institutions is one of the real benefits of adjunct life."
And when it comes to offices, adjuncts normally get the benefit of choosing their own space on campus, so rare and respected are their talents.
"The History chair had an especially nice space, and so when I agreed to come here to teach a single evening class, I asked for it," said Poli Sci adjunct Myrna Wauhlein." Movers cleared the books and then brought my stuff in. It provides me a comfortable home while I'm on campus, which - admittedly - is not often.