Few adjunct professors hired

By Meghan Finlayson

Staff Writer

A report recently released by the American Federation of Teachers suggested that adjunct professors teach many courses and are heavily involved in a wide range of disciplines, but are underpaid.

It has turned into a nationwide issue. By underpaying adjuncts, universities can lower their costs and tuition, but risk reducing the quality of education.

Although state universities tend to have more adjunct professors and have been called out on their abuse, private universities are now also being critiqued.

The University currently does not employ many adjunct professors.

“At Bucknell, we have only used 20 adjuncts this year, which is less than six percent of the size of the faculty,” Dean of Arts and Sciences George Shields said. “[They] tell us that our pay is better than the pay at universities in the surrounding area.”

The University stands out from many institutions in the fact that most of the professors are tenure-track.

“Bucknell is distinctive in focusing our hiring of faculty in tenure-track positions … the strategic direction is to continue to have the core of our faculty be tenure-track,” Provost Mick Smyer said.

In about the past eight years, the University has added 60 faculty positions, all of which have been tenure-track, to achieve the five-course teaching load.

There are many advantages of having a faculty made up of mostly tenure-track professors. The University hopes that by keeping the majority of the professors hired in these positions, close relationships can be built between faculty and students.

“We want to maximize interactions between our faculty and students, to increase the transformational opportunities of a liberal arts education, so we want full-time faculty working with our students whenever possible,” Shields said.

Another benefit of a tenure-track faculty is that the quality of overall education can be improved because of the long-term mindset.

“I have never had an adjunct professor here, but feel that since majority of the faculty is tenured, they are really committed to Bucknell and improving education as a whole,” Kristina Patrk, ’13.

That being said, adjunct professors can bring an interesting dynamic to the classroom.

“There are advantages to having an [adjunct] that complements, but does not replace tenure-track faculty and there may be instances where students would benefit from an adjunct,” Smyer said.

The University is committed and dedicated to keeping the faculty primarily in tenure-track positions as it moves forward.

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