A farmer, a painter and a prison psychologist explain how their full-time careers fit together with their teaching at CLU.
By Carol Keochekian
For Leanne Neilson, provost and vice president for academic affairs, bringing in adjunct faculty to teach selected courses at CLU has a positive educational impact.
“We see our adjunct faculty as an extremely important part of the University and a very important part of the academic experience for the students,” Neilson said. The adjunct faculty offer a wealth of professional know-how and on-the-job knowledge. “In many ways they open the door to career opportunities.”
According to data from CLU’s office of Educational Effectiveness and Institutional Research, the share of courses taught by adjunct faculty has changed little in the past five years, even as the student population at CLU has soared. For traditional undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences, that proportion hovers around one-third. It is closer to two-thirds in graduate programs and ADEP.
Maya Tenenbaum, Ed.D. ’10, wrote her recent dissertation on “exemplary” adjunct professors. Amid growing reliance on these faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities, she wanted to know how some of the most dedicated people in this group, at a variety of institutions, approached their undergraduate teaching. Tenenbaum is teaching this fall as an adjunct faculty member in the Political Science Department and the Graduate School of Education.
Among those Tenenbaum interviewed for the dissertation were part-time faculty members who taught during off hours from their full-time jobs. She said that this group of teachers “talked about this idea of returning the investment that other people had made in them.”
“They see the classroom as an opportunity and a forum to share their accumulated wisdom that would otherwise not necessarily reach the next generation and younger people,” she said. “And so I think most of them were very grateful to have the ears of young people.”
The part-time faculty members profiled in this issue all make a living mainly by doing something else. They say they teach because they love it and because they learn so much from their students.