I’m currently serving as chair for my department and one of my most time-consuming duties is finding qualified adjunct faculty to cover many of our department’s section offerings (we’re lucky in that I think it’s about a 50/50 ratio of full-time to adjunct). While I don’t particularly enjoy this part of the job, digging through resumes and emails reminds me of how much harder it is on the other side of the process. I really do feel for all of the potential instructors that I’m putting calls out to two weeks before the semester begins.
I adjunct taught at a full-time equivalent level for four years prior to gaining my current full-time, tenure track position. I clearly remember the anxiety over if I would be able to get enough courses to pay my bills I would debate with myself just how many campuses I could realistically teach to meet those needs. I also have vivid memories of injuries and illnesses that I so hoped were mild as I didn’t have any health insurance. I can also recall getting courses the week before the semester and having to prepare classes at lightspeed.
I am blissfully happy not to have those same worries now. However, I can’t forget them and will always empathize with the trials and tribulations of those great many still making a living as adjunct faculty members. And, with public budgets being slashed around the country, I can’t help but worry that my current cushy position might not be around forever.