Kicking it old school

More of the same today, which will almost certainly continue tomorrow, and which threatens to spill over into next week. How busy am I at the office? I have an away message up in my e-mail, even though I rarely leave my desk.

I left only briefly this afternoon for lunch and then a presentation — that’s meeting-like, so I think the Year of the Meeting will allow it — on the role of adjunct professors at colleges and universities. Apparently, it’s really on the rise, with some schools relying on adjuncts for two thirds or more of their faculty, and with tenure becoming increasingly a thing of the past. The focus, obviously, was on what that means for those of us trying to put textbooks in instructors’ hands and secure course adoptions, but it raises all kinds of other issues, like about who’s teaching (and with what credentials), how honest a university is about that (since “adjunct” can still carry a stigma), and the value of a higher education. Which isn’t to say that adjuncts — or whatever a school is calling them — are worse than tenured faculty; often enough the opposite can be true. But the presentation and discussion did reveal that higher education, at least in the US, is rapidly changing.

This week, though, seems like it hasn’t changed at all since Monday. At least tomorrow is Friday. I know I won’t be working over the weekend. (I don’t get paid for it if I do.)

2 thoughts on “Kicking it old school

  1. Holy smokes…that’s pretty darn busy.

    My impression, after talking to the PhD girls at that conference I went to, was that the professor profession is turning into something of an itinerant occupation: drifting from one adjunct or sessional post to another, and often holding down more than one at time. I think that was about the time the bloom started to come off the PhD rose for me.

    • You can make a decent living at it, but you do have to hustle a lot more, and you’re often thrown into unfamiliar territory with none of the standard benefits of “real” faculty. I don’t know how different it would be outside the US, like in Canada, where health benefits are more of a given. (Here, a part-time employee almost certainly wouldn’t get any.)

      The co-worker who led the discussion — and who, until recently, had been an active adjunct — talked about sharing an office with 40 other people and about teaching at over a half dozen different schools in as many years.

      It’s a weird time to be looking for work in higher education. Colleges are looking to save money by not hiring as much full-time faculty, or at least limiting those in the tenure track, while at the same time trying to keep the whole “two thirds or more of our teachers are adjuncts” on the down-low.

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