A while ago, I had the opportunity to take a job at a private university here in the Intermountain West region. It seemed like a great idea at the time. The job, an adjunct position, paid what amounted to less than minimum wage. I also decided not to go at the last minute because I did not have a contract in hand saying that the job was mine and that my teaching load would not change. Here are some of the reasons that I made that decision:

  • What if I didn’t get paid until the middle of the semester?
  • What if some of my classes got canceled?
  • How would I pay for my living situation if I didn’t receive a paycheck until a certain date?
  • Also, would you seriously go somewhere for a job without a contract?

These were all valid concerns to think about. Ultimately, in able to keep and retain talent, universities need to think about how they employ their adjuncts or maybe if they should use the adjunct role at all. Here are some things to think about:

  • Adjunct positions used to be tailored for people who had a full-time job and were brought in for their real-world expertise.
  • An adjunct with a 9-course teaching load for a year has to work hard to find other job opportunities. Often, it is hard to find livable work when your schedule changes every quarter or semester.
  • Eventually, people looking for full-time teaching work are going to give up.

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