No break in sight for adjunct faculty

For students summer is a much needed break from the stresses of higher education, but for many adjunct faculty the idea of summer vacation is just a dream.

Richard Adams, adjunct instructor in CSU’s Department of Anthropology usually spends his summers instructing an archeology field class which, he says, is a 23 hour-a-day job.

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“Last summer was very tough because field school started a day or two after classes ended (in the spring) and lasted until two days until classes began (in the fall),” Adams said. “This will be my first summer off in approximately 25 years.”

Even faculty who do not teach courses over the summer still use the months off to prepare for the heavy workload they need to maintain throughout the rest of the year. Adjuncts generally teach at least five classes per semester — the amount necessary to make a sufficient living while working in this faculty position.

“Every summer you have to do a new syllabus for the fall and I try to organize my thoughts and my resources,” said Anne Marie Merline, a full-time non-tenure track instructor for the Honors Program.

In addition to compiling resources for class, many faculty are also parents, including Mathew Dunn, a special instructor in the communication studies department and father to two boys.

“Between finding time to grade and prepare and also find time to be supportive in their lives, my schedule is maxed out every year,” Dunn said. “There are hundreds of hours spent developing not only the content, but also researching the documents that students are going to be reading and then collecting audio visual material.”

According to multiple faculty across the university, preparation outside the classroom creates an arduous burden in terms of time. In addition to the hours spent on the job, adjunct faculty also face an additional task: Keeping their students engaged while completing the requirements of CSU’s set curriculums.

“You have flexibility, but there is a lot of framework that undergirds the classes at CSU,” said Suzanne Kent, adjunct instructor for the anthropology department.

According to Mareika Ydenes, a freshman equine science and business major, having less flexibility in their teaching techniques hinders student education.

“The teacher wouldn’t really get to know what the class is interested in and couldn’t teach from that,” Ydenes said.

Adjuncts are contracted on a per year basis, giving them a lack of job security when compared to their tenure track counterparts. In addition to the set curriculum and specific class requirements set by course directors, some adjuncts said they were initially wary of rocking the boat because of the lack of job security.

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“The bottom line was I was always concerned with someone in my classes recording me, taking some of those comments out of context, winding up either on a blog or on an AM radio station,” Dunn said.

According to long-time adjunct instructor in the political science department, Paul Crumby, his position is in an at will state, meaning an employer does not need cause to fire an employee.

“There is no job security,” Crumby said.

Instead of concentrating on the difficulties of being in an adjunct position, educators said they focus instead on their passion for teaching.

“I like to teach. I’m a teacher. That’s what I am. That is my passion and that’s what I’m good at,” Crumby said.

Collegian Reporter Laren Cyphers can be reached at news@collegian.com.