Archive for: November, 2011

The Fallacy of Adjuncts part 1- the short term

Nov 29 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers], [Life Trajectories]

In these troubled economic times, more academic departments turn to untenured teaching options as a way to meet staffing needs.  Many R1 investigators are finding it harder and harder to capture grants, which means fewer indirect monies for departments.  Adjuncts, visiting professors, and lecturers (oh my!) are increasingly called upon to take the load off.  It ain't hard to see why.  Today, I'm going to deal with just adjuncting, or the practice of paying someone to teach "by the class".

If your primary academic mission is not teaching, then it makes little sense to have your profs devote hours per week to teaching Intro Psych or Gen Bio when they could be writing multimillion dollar research grants.  And since funds are low for everyone, new tenure track hires are even more painful; thousands of dollars go into a search, hundreds of thousands go into a startup package for your typical assistant professor labspace.  If you have the option to staff your classes with cheap, temporary labor, why wouldn't you?

To be fair, there are clear benefits to adjuncting for both the institution and the wayward adjunct.  These include-

  • Minimal application process/expenditures-  You can often get a job simply by emailing a department chair and asking "hey, you need any courses covered?"
  • Defined hours- The adjunct is there to cover a course, period.  No departmental meetings or other bullshit time sinks.
  • Money- Adjuncts don't make great pay, but it is nice when you need a little extra money in a short amount of time.  You can work as much as is available.  The Uni benefits from not having to spend as much on searches and bennies.
  • Entertainment- Admit it, you like teaching.  Why not dabble, and get paid for it?
  • Full time transition- at least at community colleges, if you've been a successful adjunct for a while, you may have a leg up if a TT spot opens.
  • Sharpen your skillz- never taught before?  Here's a chance to get some teaching under your belt.
But, some things about adjuncting really, really bite.
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