An Adjunct Professor Confesses…
by John Brown
[Imaginary dialogue based on Catholic confessions I willingly endured during my Catholic adolescence in the 1960s; doubtless the format/questions/vocabulary have much changed since that epoch.]
Georgetown adjunct professor [GAP, yours truly]: Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
I bless you, my son. What sins do you confess?
GAP: I have been teaching courses, with much gratitude to Georgetown University, on American foreign policy, off and on for over a decade.
So what is your sin? After all, teaching is not a sin, if practiced in the right way.
Father, excuse my materialist concerns, I just don’t think my students are getting their money’s worth.
My son: Money is only part of the moral universe.
GAP: Thank you for your kindness, Father. But Father, although I was honored to receive a Ph.D from Princeton University, and then went on to be a Senior Foreign Service officer in the United States Foreign Service with many awards, and have many publications (some actually quite “scholarly”) I am not a tenured professor. I recently was asked to be on a Georgetown University dissertation committee, dear Father, which allowed me to judge on the scholarly value of academe’s “true,” professional entrance into serious scholarship.
Priest: So why should all these qualifications of yours bother you, my son?
GAP: Because my students are enduring extravagant costs for a college “higher” education, expecting, I assume, the best and the brightest academic pedagogues, who — as they fully deserve — get a full salary. And by the “best professors,” I mean those who have tenure and are respected by their professional academic colleagues. I am not in their league/”lane,” Father, as has been made somewhat clear (by whom I don’t really know) for over a decade at a Jesuit institution of higher earning (please forgive my spelling sin, Father, I meant “learning).”
And yet students are paying high prices, to be taught by non-tenured academic hired-hands (hacks?), such as I, “instructing” them. Should not the “real” professors teach students more than the academic hired-hands do, instead of high-priced universities relying on “second-rate” instructors/adjuncts supposedly enlightening the young (and not so young)? I feel guilty, Father, and seek your absolution.
My son — How much are you getting remunerated for teaching your course (s), now over a decade?
GAP: A couple of thousand dollars per course, Father, without insurance or any assurance of permanent employment.
Do you feel exploited?
GAP: Father, with all due respect: My consolation is Christ on the crucifix.
Priest: Say three Hail Marys and go back to the books before you pretend to be a “professor” you, so-called “Dr.” Brown. Roma locuta est; causa finita est.
Full disclosure: I was reprimanded (excommunicated?) by a Georgetown dean for distributing photocopied materials in one of my classes, which included non-copyrighted speeches by American presidents (Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman). … Yep, somehow it has something to do with copyright laws.
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