Providing Leadership and Support to Professionally Develop Adjunct Faculty
Adjunct faculty may be the most overused and under-resourced groups of individuals in higher education. Many departments and courses would not function, or at least not function well, without adjunct faculty. Yet despite being in many cases essential members of a department, adjuncts receive modest pay, typically by the course and term. They often function on the periphery of a department or program with little if any attention paid them or their development as a faculty member. As the chair of a department that includes a variety of clinical health disciplines, my philosophy and approach are to involve adjunct faculty in the department and as members of the academic programs in which they teach. Investing in mentoring them as if they were full-time faculty members and supporting their development as educators can, I believe, provide valuable returns. In my department’s case, the possibility that a current adjunct can become our next best full-time clinical faculty applicant should not be ignored. While not all department units may be structured in a way that would permit full-time hires, adjunct instruction may be foundational to the unit. Regardless of the department or the organizational structure, ultimately, one goal is that there should be no discernible differences in the quality of instruction between full-time and adjunct faculty.