While many people pursue academic careers as full-time, tenure-track faculty, colleges and universities also employ significant numbers of adjunct faculty, either full time or part time. Some people use these adjunct positions as a pathway into a more permanent academic position, while for others they are a long-term second job or a temporary part of their career path. In this panel, three women who have held a variety of adjunct positions spoke about their experiences and gave advice to those interested in adjunct positions.
In the panel’s discussion, the speakers highlighted that someone who wants to be an adjunct needs to love teaching, since that is the primary role of adjunct faculty. Even at a research university, an adjunct position is not intended to be a research role, although it may allow someone to make contacts with those in research labs. Furthermore, adjuncts need to be flexible and able to respond quickly. All three of the women had, on several occasions, only learned of an opportunity to teach a few days before the class started. And finally, they emphasized that they pay scale typically was not very high, and that someone who expects to earn a large paycheck from teaching will be very disappointed. However, all three of the panelists found their experiences teaching as an adjunct to be personally rewarding.
Diane L. Peters, P.E., Ph.D. is currently a Senior Control Systems Engineer at LMS International. She has taught as an adjunct at both a community college and a regional university.
Anne M. Lucietto is currently a graduate student at Purdue University. She has extensive industry experience, and has taught as an adjunct for over 25 years at a variety of colleges and universities. Most recently, she has been developing and delivering on-line courses in the community college environment.
Cheryl Hanzlik, formerly employed by Xerox Corporation, is a confocal microscopy technician and adjunct faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology.