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MZ:"Adjuncts sign on for a variety of reasons. Some are working professionals who don't need the money but want to pad their resumes with academic credentials. Some are hanging on to an academic career by teaching classes here and there to piece together enough to live. Some hope to obtain the Holy Grail of a tenured position, but there are few in CCs. "

You forgot a good reason why adjuncts teach. When I took my graduate EE degree course at GWU in the Wash DC area.....nearly all the courses were taught be adjuncts.

About 2/3rds of them were working in the industry in the area they taught. One was an expert in cryptography at Naval Research Institutes. One of the 'brains' in the industry. Another had written a book on the subject. Several others were active in the industry they taught. All had PhDs and likely decades of real world experience (as opposed to ivory tower academics who did 'research' that may or may not have gone anywhere. most of the profs in the after hours program were adjuncts who taught one or two courses a semester. They really didn't do it for the money. In some cases, classes were 4-10 students. The facility was 'off campus' and E-systems provided the classrooms gratis. A lot of E-sysems folks took the classes - they probably got a break. Off campus a class would be taught with a minimum of 4 students. The courses were about $1000 each and the prof got $2400 a semester. No benefits obviously. But they taught in the field of their 'passion'. .....Best instructors I ever had.

There were no illusions about 'tenure tract' or working for benefits. MOst got benefits through their other employers.

The local community college uses lots of part time profs......for the most part there aren't enough students and classes for them to work full time. Most again are 'experts' in their field and if you teach a computer networking class, there are only so many students and you may have no interest in teaching a software class or one in hardware design. So it works out fine for most of them.

You really need to get over the issue of 'full time jobs'. They are going away. We are moving toward the 'contingent work force' where people are matched to specific job assignments. If you're the expert in Product XYZ applications, and someone needs someone for 2 months to do a job, you get hired...when the job is done, your contract is up and you move on. No need to hire someone, train them, then lay them off in 4 months. It's going to going on everywhere.

You likely already do it. You hire a lawn guy to mow the lawn. You hire another guy to take care of the pool. If you need your house painted, you don't use the lawn guy, you hire someone 'for the job'. Same if you need your dishwasher fixed. Or your car serviced. You don't have a full time just 'use' whatever 'services 'you need, when you need them, for the amount of time you need them. SHovel the snow off the front drive? Usually not the painter......

The trend will happen more and more in business. You hire 'by the job'.


The terms of employment are often very odd. Friends who have worked for the local CC have been paid so much per student hour, plus so much per quiz, plus so much per paper, etc. It leads to an odd course structure as they try to balance their need for pay against their need for good student evaluations.

Adjuncts at the med school often pay their own salaries and benefits from grant money they obtain themselves but can only spend if they work under the auspices of a university. The university takes a cut (often a third or more), and handle salaries and bennies for the adjuncts and their staffs. They tend not to teach, but if they do, they get paid a pittance relative to their tenure-track "colleagues."

It's a racket, and yes, the administration and the tenured faculty are responsible. The solution is for adjuncts, grad students and staff to unionize or move on. But too many are willing to sign on because of the perceived prestige, poor souls!
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