Why Fill Full Time Faculty Positions When Adjuncts are Readily Available?

Many schools are faced with decreased student enrollment (which translates into reduced operating funds) resulting in offering fewer class taught by fewer full-time and/or adjunct faculty members.

As a school administer, you need to make budget appropriation decisions about faculty positions and responsibilities. You must do more with less funding. Your choice can be to either utilize a full-time faculty member or adjuncts?

The costs associated with filling a full-time faculty position includes additional payroll expenses, fringe benefits, and (in the future) the potential complications of trying to fire the person if he/she does not meet the school’s needs. But the school still needs a team of full-time faculty to provide continuity within the department and the school, to assume various administrative responsibilities and develop for future opportunities.

The alternative is to hire adjunct instructors for faculty positions. Qualified subject master experts are readily available in today’s labor market, making your offering compensation lower than in the past. At many schools, adjuncts are not eligible for benefits. Perhaps the most important aspect is if an adjunct does not work out, the school does not have re-new their contract.

Accepting the fact that many open faculty positions will be filled by adjuncts, what can a college or university do to evaluate adjuncts for potential future full-time faculty positions?  Despite how well a person presents on paper or during an interview, the real test is what happens when they are in a room with students, how they relate with other faculty and staff members, or how they deal with administrative responsibilities.

Most schools are looking for low-maintenance adjuncts who don’t create chaos in their classroom or the school, who engage and interact with students, faculty and staff, who can deal with unpredictable events (the computer isn’t working, projector bulb is out, etc.), who complete all their administrative responsibilities on time and who accurately acts in a responsible in a mature manner.

Rich Gerstin is the founder of The Asheforde Group and is the head of math department at Brown Mackie College, Atlanta.

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