The last day of the conference, and people are beginning to clear out. Watching the venders pack up creates a sense of closure. A ghost town. But this 8:00 session on engaging adjunct faculty is well attended. Somewhere around fifty people.
I struggle with these sessions, though. Everyone in the room is well-situated. I would assume that all of us have our travel covered by an institution. Our fancy meals are charged to the system. Our nice rooms bills covered by prof dev budgets.
And here we are discussing how to handle employees whose jobs are tenuous, uncertain. Adjuncts face a fickle, uncertain future. Like us, they have spent a small fortune obtaining their degrees. And like us, they have spent a great deal of personal capital–sacrificing family time, leisure time, to become educated. They have followed the very path we extol: education leads to success.
Yet they are left on the fringes. True, some select that role. Some do not want full time positions. But that line of thought is a bait and switch.
All of us in this room–all of use who have had to take away a class from an adjunct at the last minute for a full time faculty, email an adjunct a to tell him that a class has not made, or call an adjunct to tell her the full time job is not hers, the committee went with an outside candidate–all of us feel the tension in the notion of “bringing them into the culture.”
And if we do not, shame on us.
The significance of the adjuncts’ contributions is reflected by the attendees. The presenters are vice-presidents. A president from my system is two rows in front of me. The admin understands the tension, the struggle. Despite the ‘best practices’ highlighted, though, the question lingers. Is there a meaningful solution?