I blogged about sessionals earlier this month and the claim was that sessionals (adjuncts) are sessionals because they don’t want tenure track positions.
It may be true for some, but it’s certainly not true for all of us, and it may not even be true for most of us.
Some of the sessionals I know would love to have full-time, tenure-track jobs. Some want positions that include research, but others don’t. Many of them love teaching but aren’t really interested in spending 2/3 of their time trying to get grants so they can do research (that likely won’t be seen by anyone after the grant runs out). It’s a real shame that so few universities recognize the value of people who are dedicated to teaching and the scholarship that goes with that.
Others – and I fall into this category – actually want something most universities don’t seem to know how to do: tenure-track (or at least long-term) part-time positions. I’m talking about 1/2 year full-time (i.e. 6 months), or full-year 1/2 time (i.e. 5 full days every 2 weeks). I’ve never understood why universities don’t do this (unless it’s simply b/c they can use sessionals instead). Anyone who has ever worked 1/2 time can tell you that the company always wins – they always get more than 1/2 time.
I have a pretty impressive publication record if I do say so myself, I am a pretty good teacher and a great instructional designer. I also watched first my only brother, and then four months later my mother die of cancer four years ago. My brother was only 56 and was just getting ready to start doing the things he had always wanted to (he was a musician) – and then he was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma. He was dead less than a year later. My mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and although she was doing OK, I think losing her son was more than she could bear- she died less than four months later. My dad died when I was 12, so that left only me. It has changed my perspective on life, and how tenuous it can be. As a result, I want to balance my time between the various things I love – only one of which is teaching.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only academic who wants a part-time position. Universities are missing out on some stellar talent. It’s a shame they don’t seem to care.