Trading in the Lectern for the Office
by Chris Cumo
MARY JO SOUTHERN once taught English as an adjunct in North
Carolina. Since then she has spent 20 years in textbook publishing:
9 years as a sales representative for several publishers and
the last 11 as editor at HarperCollins, Prentice Hall and
Houghton Mifflin. Today she is senior sponsoring editor for
developmental English at Houghton Mifflin and the creator
of Adjuncts.com, a web site of lesson plans, test questions,
worksheets, discussion prompts and discussion forums for part-time
college instructors. She has more responsibility and clout
than she ever knew as an adjunct.
Southern is among a legion of adjuncts who have traded the
lectern for the office.
Why would someone make this trade? The reasons are obvious
to Annamarie Rice, who knows the itinerant life of an adjunct.
During the 1990s she taught in Korea, Lithuania and Indonesia
through the University of Maryland’s overseas teaching program.
But the Asian economic downturn in 1998 led the university
to curtail its overseas program. This left Rice without a
position. Scrambling for work, she settled for adjunct teaching
one semester and knew immediately that she had made a mistake.
She was always on the road, commuting among the University
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