The role of adjunct faculty is drawing a lot of attention in the academic community among the tenured, tenure track, and those seeking such positions (Lesko, 2009). Adjunct faculty also are generating much attention through organized efforts to unionize (Ingram, 2009). Some of the comments in the news and online discussions have been highly disparaging, such as suggesting adjuncts are not interested in student learning or are undeserving of teaching opportunities when others more qualified are looking for full-time appointments.
The adjuncts I know are committed to student learning and generally have greater expertise than those recently graduated from Ph.D. or profesional programs. This is because they typically have spent the time in the field (in the trenches) living and breathing the work, and truly becoming expert in an area of teaching need. Academia can be subject to criticism when placing recent graduates directly into teaching. I would not want my child learning from a teacher who was trained by an education faculty who had never taught children. I do not wish to see a dentist who was trained by a dental faculty who never practiced dentistry. This matter of expertise is worthy of greater discussion.
Sommer Ingram, Adjunct Committee Reflects Local Concern, The Lariat Online, March 4, 2009, available at http://www.baylor.edu/lariat/news.php?action=story&story=56830
P.D. Lesko, The Blame Game and Part Timers, The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2009, availabel at http://chronicle.com/jobs/blogs/onhiring/940