Adjunct faculty conflicted over campus experience
Photo by Cody Glassett
The composition of full-time faculty has increased since 2008, but the number of adjunct instructors still make up 43 percent of that composition, according to the school’s institutional report.
Although there are benefits, the status of adjunct professors can result in a lack of perceived legitimacy and power on campus for teachers, according to Kiri Manookin, a former adjunct faculty member at UVU.
According to Marci Bingham, a communications major, there is a reputation that professors take the job more seriously than adjuncts do.
“[Adjunct faculty] can also have the feeling of being shut out and being excluded from projects, funding and support that full-time faculty may have access to,” said Manookin. “I didn’t have access to an office or a designated area to meet with students outside of class. The lack of a private space makes it difficult to prepare for a class, tutor a student or counsel with a pupil about a sensitive or personal topic — it’s difficult to provide support to a student in need in such a public space like a hallway or the library.”
Manookin taught in UVU’s English Language Learning Department and had been nominated to attend an overseas conference recognizing the department’s achievements in second-language writing. Because of her adjunct status, Manookin was not able to attend.
“It was a prestigious conference overseas specifically on second-language writing,” said Manookin. “As the writing teacher of the group, it made the most sense for me to attend. It was a really exciting opportunity, especially as a career builder and a good opportunity to highlight our program. The other teachers (all full-time) could not or chose not to attend for one reason or another, but it was just not an option for me at all because of my adjunct status.”
According to Manookin, adjunct faculty are only allowed to miss one class per semester and cannot miss more than that, even to attend conferences in their own field.
Manookin hopes that a dialogue can be sparked about the use of adjunct faculty and their role on campus. She also hopes discussions can be held about creating a higher percentage of full-time faculty at UVU.
Both adjuncts and full-time faculty have access to support from the Office of Teaching and Learning to help support them as teachers.
Kristina Davis, an adjunct faculty teacher in Biology, says this resource provides great value and support to her teaching.
“I love DNA, but that doesn’t mean that I am innately good at helping students learn how it works,” Davis said. “The Office of Teaching and Learning has sponsored multiple large trainings and small group instruction for adjuncts each year. The workshops have given me resources and skills to help students learn with the best strategies for long-term retention.”
Davis added that her adjunct status provides the flexibility that she wants without the demands of administrative tasks.