Houston Matters

Adjunct Professors: Are Colleges Getting By on Cheap Labor?

If you went to college, chances are good you had at least one adjunct professor. Maybe you took a business class with an adjunct who was a full-time professional — or a media class with a reporter at the lectern. The idea with adjuncts is often to bring real-world experience to learning. But now some say […]

If you went to college, chances are good you had at least one adjunct professor. Maybe you took a business class with an adjunct who was a full-time professional — or a media class with a reporter at the lectern.

The idea with adjuncts is often to bring real-world experience to learning. But now some say that’s gone too far. Nationally, more than half of all college faculty (51 percent) are part-timers, according to data compiled by the American Association of University Professors as recently as 2011. That’s up from 40 percent in 1993. At the nation’s community colleges, 58 percent of classes are taught by part-time instructors, according to a 2014 report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement.

So why has the use of adjuncts become so widespread, and what is it doing to our college campuses and faculty?

To answer that, we talk with John Barnshaw, a higher education researcher with the American Association of University Professors, Myko Gedutis, lead organizer with the Texas State Employees Union, and Paul McGrath, who tells us firsthand about the experience of being an adjunct college teacher at Texas A&M while working as an editor at the Houston Chronicle.

MORE:
Colleges’ Reliance on Part-time Faculty: Who Wins? Who Loses? (Noodle.com, Oct. 5, 2015)
Is Your Prof Part-Time? 4 Reasons You Should Find Out (Noodle.com, May 28, 2015)

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