When it comes to developing and appreciating our adjunct faculty,
we need to find ways to build opportunity, supervision, community, advancement, and respect.
This past week I had the opportunity (along with my dean and associate dean) to celebrate our college’s adjunct faculty. We sponsored an evening program to thank them for what they do for our college and students. More pointedly, though, we wanted to take the opportunity to continue to forge collegial connections between adjunct and full-time faculty. For at the heart of it, whatever our designation in HR may be, we are faculty and our students depend upon us for delivery of relevant, rigorous, and engaging lessons.
The following statistics remind us of the importance of our adjunct faculty:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics from 1991 to 2011:
- Full-time faculty increased 42 percent
- Part-time faculty increased 162 percent
- The percentage of part-time faculty increased from 35 percent to 50 percent
The Coalition of the Academic Workforce reports:
- There are 1.8 million faculty in two and four-year degree-granting institutions
- Of the 1.8 million, more than 1.3 million (more than 75.5%) were “contingent positions”
Video recommendation for the week:
Take a look at one view of who “adjuncts” are, what they do, and circumstances they face.
Adjunct concerns can be classified as institutional (pay and benefits for example) or classroom support (access to technology and departmental mentoring for instance).
If we place pay and benefits to the side (and that in no way indicates they are not important), so many adjuncts are looking for ways to at least be able to connect with other faculty and the institution. Many of our adjuncts teach at night or on the weekends when most full-time faculty are not on campus. They become “PCP faculty”: Parking lot—Classroom—Parking lot. It becomes imperative for our institutions of higher education to find ways to provide opportunities for collaboration for our contingent faculty. We need to examine creative ways to build opportunity, supervision, community, advancement, and respect.
If I could only choose one of the above, I would focus on community. When we truly develop a community, we have a group of people who validate one another and will do whatever it takes to make sure that each person is accountable and successful! And all else has a better chance of falling into place.
A few ways in which to build community include:
- Convocations for all faculty
- Orientation programs
- Mentor-Mentee relationships
- Invitations to faculty meetings
- Inclusion on faculty emails
- Office space and support facilities
- Recognition for a job well done
- Certification programs
- Funding for professional development participation
What does your institution do to support its adjunct faculty?
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.