Hannah Shaw, Chattanooga, TN–Nearly 70 percent of faculty at colleges and Universities across the nation are adjunct faculty working part time or non-tenure faculty, according to data from the Coalition on the Academic Workforce.
UTC currently employs more than 300 adjunct faculty members, or, faculty members who are hired by semester to teach one or two specific courses.
“We hire a lot of adjuncts going into the fall semester because there is quite often some unmet need,” Jocelyn Sanders, associate provost for academic affairs, said. “A lot of people get this kind of estranged notion that adjunct faculty are less qualified, but they’re not. They just have a different kind of contract.”
Oftentimes, Sanders said, adjuncts are hired for their expertise in a specialized course if none of the full time professors have the expertise to qualify them to teach the course.
They are often hired to teach general education courses when the student enrollment increases, as it has in the past several years, she said.
Because of the differences in contracts, adjuncts cost less money to retain than full time professors, she said.
They also do not receive benefits from the University and the pay rate is much lower than for full time faculty.
At minimum, adjunct faculty are paid $2,000 for a regular three hour course, Deborah Hyde, business manager of academic affairs, said.
The University, which operates under the standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, must follow specific minimum requirements for teaching at different levels, Sanders said. All professors, adjunct or full time, must meet these requirements.
“It shouldn’t matter to students whether their teachers are part time or full time,” she said. “They are still learning the same amount.”
Joe Wiram, an adjunct professor and clinical exercise physiologist, said his pay rate with the University has remained the same for 12 years, even though his education, certifications and experience in his field have greatly increased.
Hyde said the reason for the pay discrepancies is due to the course load and duties outside of the classroom.
“Full time people do the committee work, they do the advising,” Sanders said. “They do the behind-the-scenes work that makes the University more than just a series of courses.”
However, adjunct faculty members are also expected to be available to their students outside of the classroom.
“We require adjunct faculty to provide contact information,” Sanders said. “The best way to contact adjuncts would be through email.”
Lindsay Herman, a Nashville junior and student of Wiram, said she has never had a problem contacting her adjunct professors. She said Wiram was always available and prompt when responding to emails.