According to a 2010 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, over 60 percent of undergraduate classes are now taught by adjunct professors in the U.S. This is a drastic change from when it was roughly 12 percent in 2000. The American Federation of Teachers states that about 27 percent of post secondary instructors hold full time, tenure-track positions.
To be hired as full-time faculty members, they need to have a terminal degree, which is the highest degree given in a certain field. If adjunct professors do not have a terminal degree, they are able to work toward that while they teach. Adjunct professors are part-time employees, therefore they are not able to qualify for heath benefits, retirement or job security.
Schools, such as La Verne University, have capped the amount of courses that adjuncts can teach so they do not go over 30 hours per week. This ensures their part-time staff and faculty are not able to qualify for benefits. Adjunct professors at California Lutheran University are only allowed to teach two four-unit courses per semester.
“Part-time employees, both faculty and staff, don’t have health care but there are a whole bunch of opportunities they do have,” said Leanne Neilson, provost of California Lutheran University.
Neilson said that part-time employees have access to Pearson Library, Forrest Fitness Center, Lynda.com and more.
Most adjuncts have another job in addition to teaching. Not only is this a way to make ends meet, but it also allows students to hear what the “real world” is like from working professionals.
“There is a lot of base stuff I need to cover, but I am a big believer in having [my students] be as prepared as possible for the real world,” adjunct communication professor Juliet Mothershed said.
Some may have misconceptions of adjunct professors- like they show up, teach and go home. In reality, no adjunct professor is the same. Some are highly engaged in the academic community.
Just like full-time professors, adjuncts have grading, office hours and other activities related to teaching.
However, many students, such as senior biology major Alvina Wong, prefer full-time professors.
“I prefer full-time professors because they can create curriculum on their past experiences in the field, which it makes it better for future classes and for us,” Wong said.
According to Nielson, CLU has one-third adjunct undergraduate faculty, which is less than the national average.
Published may 7, 2014