One of the things about being an administrator, even one with as little power as I (I have essentially the same rank as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind, and believe you me, I’m milking Temporary Honorary Colonel for all it’s worth), is that I have to deal with personnel issues. No, I don’t have the power of hiring and firing, but I do have to listen to people and work through interpersonal conflicts. This is no mean feat sometimes, for as anyone knows when you put two faculty in a room you’ll end up with three opinions.
Fortunately, I am blessed with colleagues that are collegial. We all want what is best for the students and for the program. Most of the issues have been around adjunct faculty concerns, and this is something I have wrestled with for some time. Adjunct faculty are, in some institutions, the largest group of faculty, but they have very little (if any) input in governance. They are paid horribly, usually have no benefits, and are often subject to being fired on a whim. In some places, they are expected to exhibit loyalty to an institution that will not return that loyalty, and actively looking for full-time work can be grounds for dismissal. On top of it, adjunct too long, and you may make it impossible to ever land that full-time job.
I was an adjunct for a good bit (1998-2004) and have been a visiting full-timer twice (2004-05 and 2007-08). I consider myself darn lucky to be on the tenure track. What should we be doing to help our adjuncts?
UWT and UWB both pay adjuncts to attend certain “required” meetings. As a member of the first-year core program, I get a stipend for attending these meetings/trainings, some of which are three hours long. It’s a little thing, but it makes a difference.
The other tricky thing (at least in my present situation) is giving the adjuncts an opportunity to interact with the regular faculty and the other adjuncts. Shared offices/work spaces facilitate this on the one hand. On the other hand, UWT has organized a series of once-a-month (roughly) lunches at local restaurants: RSVP, pay your $20, and meet people informally. There are a few brown-bag events, too.
These are pretty good ideas. I show submit some of these to our division chair.