The Adjunct Advocate (Not!)

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Listen to my blog entry here.

I have been called the adjunct Advocate on numerous occasions. It’s the title of the publication, after all, and I publish the magazine. I suppose it would seem natural to assume I automatically side with adjunct faculty on most every issue. How could the adjunct Advocate do otherwise? If I didn’t, by that logic, I couldn’t possibly be the adjunct Advocate. Right.

I publish a magazine for a living. I also own a book publishing company. I never intended to go into the publishing business. When I finished my graduate degree, I planned to get a job writing for a magazine or, possibly, teaching. After I applied for half a dozen creative writing jobs, I realized without a book length manuscript I would never be able to land a full-time teaching gig. Few graduate students in creative writing finish already having published book length manuscripts. So, I followed a different path and ended up here, a journalist, a publisher, a business owner.

I chose to publish a magazine for adjunct faculty because in 1992 there wasn’t one, and I knew from first-hand experience what the life of a part-timer was like. I never imagined I would do this job for the rest of my life. I thought I would quit after 10 years and do something else. In September 2008, the magazine will celebrate 16 years of chronicling the life and often difficult times of our country’s 700,000 temporary faculty.

I never set out to be the adjunct Advocate. I set out to publish a magazine what would help part-time faculty connect. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I enjoyed journalism, and was well-suited to owning a business. By nature, I am perfectly comfortable having an opinion different than that of the people around me. I am happy to agree to disagree. I am curious, and enjoy ferreting out information, and studying statistical data. I have a scary good memory for numbers.

I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t publish Adjunct Advocate and be an adjunct Advocate. I learned that I had to go at news stories and interviews with as little pre-judgement, and as few preconceived notions as possible. I would simply have to ask questions, and wait to see what the answers turned out to be. This doesn’t mean I have no empathy; it means I never take sides. Over the years, I have had more than my share of angry people confront me about this. It happened recently.

As I get older, it gets easier to accept that people may be disappointed when they discover I am not the adjunct Advocate, but rather someone whose journalistic work focuses on a particular group of people who work within higher education. I love my job, and I actually enjoy asking tough questions, and trying to anticipate the trends within higher education, particularly as they apply to temporary faculty. I am proud to say I have been a good prognosticator more often than not.

For this reason, I’m going to keep asking the tough questions, and publishing pieces on what I consider important issues to our readership, primarily, and to higher education, secondarily. I know several adjunct Advocates out there, and am pleased and proud to say I will never been one of them. My road lies in a different direction, toward truth and information.

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