Adjuncts Share Mixed Feelings
By: WILLIAM SORENSEN
Adjunct professors face a complicated situation, and the ones here at UMW are no different.
As professorship becomes more competitive, tenure track jobs become increasingly difficult to land. According to Teresa Kennedy, head of the English, linguistics and communication department, it is not uncommon to receive 200 to 300 applications for a single job opening, “and we’re not even a top tier research school. It’s a bad job market for people with PhD’s.”
This overabundance makes adjunct and visiting professors a more common sight here at UMW, causing new difficulties on top of those they already face. Those adjuncts who teach part-time make comparatively lower wages with no benefits, which is OK for some who are just looking to keep busy after retirement or to earn some extra income.
For those fresh out of doctorate programs who are looking for more long-term employment, the semester-to-semester basis of adjunct employment can become frustrating, as can the varying degrees of control afforded them in course selection.
There is also a policy in place that prevents visiting professors from teaching full-time for more than three years, in order to prevent exploitation.
Despite these problems faced by adjuncts everywhere, many of the adjuncts at UMW still enjoy their time spent here.
Brady Earnhart, who has been teaching American literature and creative writing at UMW full-time for the past three years, was recently bumped down to part-time work due to the above mentioned policy.
“I understand the reason for the policy, but in reality it means I have to pay my own insurance and make less money,” Earnhart said.
That being said, he stressed that “I have been completely satisfied with my teaching experience here.” He does not let his concerns interfere with his love of teaching poetry.
Carlos Tapia, from the Spanish department, is likewise thankful for the opportunity given him to teach. There are classes he wants to teach that his position does not allow him to pursue, but does enjoy the freedom to lead the classes he is given as he sees fit.
Even though he is only on campus three times a week, he allows himself extra time on those days to ensure availability to all of his students.
“I always try to make myself available, and encourage students to come to my office to talk about papers and speeches,” Tapia said.
Most importantly, he enjoys the level of support between the tenured professors and adjuncts within departments, which he claims is unique to his experiences here at UMW.