Spring Brings Change

This has been a very busy Springtime for me.

Anyone who lives in a northern climate can tell you that when the weather changes from snow, sleet and ice, to warm breezes, sun and gentle rains, it’s tough to keep your nose to the grindstone. This past winter, my part of the state of Michigan got sprinkled with nine feet (yes, I said nine) feet of snow. So, when it all melted, and the ground unfroze, we tapped the five sugar maple trees we have in our backyard and made maple syrup. I know this might sound odd, but it actually works. For the past two years, we have ended up with about a pint of syrup per tree. This year, however, thanks to the snow (or so say more experienced maple syrup makers) our production was up, up, up. We boiled down enough sap to produce an entire gallon of maple syrup.

Then, in April, I bought myself a new bicycle. When my eldest son was 10 months old, (a decade ago) I bought a Cannondale with a baby bike seat. Both of my sons and I spent many a morning biking to one park or another. This year, I gave that bike to my oldest boy. He is almost as tall as I am now, and gladly moved up to my very expensive, very well cared for, Cannondale, the “Green Machine,” as it was dubbed shortly after I bought it. My new Cannondale is made in America, and significantly lighter than the old one; it’s a good thing, too. A lighter bike is the only way I’d ever keep up with my kids when we ride together. However, since we are a one car family, having really well made bikes doesn’t seem such an extravagance. Our family bikes, walks and takes the bus whenever we can.

In May, I decided to do something I thought I would do a very long time ago. When I began Adjunct Advocate in 1992, I imagined working on the magazine for 10 years. That seemed so far into the future, I couldn’t really envision past that. I just knew that a decade seemed like the outside limit for me to work on a project. I thrive on creation. It’s part of why I like to write. It’s an opportunity to constantly create, learn and think. I can think of no better way to spend a life than engaging in those three activities.

When you own a business, one of the most crucial decisions you have to make (if you don’t, you can get into a lot of trouble) is whether you want to grow your business, hire staff, own an office building and work toward growth. Many years ago, when my kids were little, I decided that I wanted my business to stay small. Despite this, almost four years ago, I decided to buy a book publishing company, which I renamed the Part-Time Press. It was a gamble, but it has since proven a very sound business decision. Today, one out of every four colleges and universities in the United States uses our books for part-time faculty professional development and orientation programs. I enjoy book publishing. Immensely. More than I thought I ever would. As a result, I have decided to sell Adjunct Advocate and pursue book publishing. I can’t do both.

However, as I was determined to keep my business small so that I could participate in parenting my sons, university administrators had other ideas: in the almost 20 years I have worked on Adjunct Advocate, the number of faculty off the tenure-track has doubled. When I launched the magazine, there were 300,000 part-time faculty, and people didn’t even know what an “adjunct” was. Today, 700,000 faculty work off the tenure-track. I believe very strongly that those faculty deserve a national publication that can serve their professional needs and look after their professional concerns. Nothing irks me as much as hearing editors of education publications say that their mags., web sites and newspapers “publish pieces about adjunct faculty.”

The days for separate drinking fountains for part-time faculty were over a decade ago. Higher education newspapers, web sites and magazines whose editorial leaders believe it’s fine to simply “publish articles about adjuncts” are still operating under the mistaken impression that we are in 1980, and tenure-line faculty are the majority in higher education. Those days are finished. It’s time for the content of higher education publications to reflect this. To be fair, my colleagues in the higher education press realize that the demographic of the faculty population has changed dramatically. It’s just that I got a 20-year head start on them. You and I know it’s impossible to write about any subject of import to higher education without looking at how it impacts temporary faculty. Those other guys are coming around slowly.

That they are coming around is good news for part-time faculty, and for me. I want to see Adjunct Advocate fly to the next level, and that’s going to take selling it to a larger company, not growing my company any larger.

I want to end by sharing a note I recently got from a reader and a posting about Adjunct Advocate I recently came across on a blog. They demonstrate the wide spectrum of the population Adjunct Advocate reaches. First the blog posting. It’s from the blog Vlorbik. There, on March 14, 2008, the blogger referred to “the execrable Adjunct ‘Advocate.'” Evidently, the publication is not “advocating” as it should, or perhaps I am not. Your guess is as good as mine. Now, the message from the reader:

 

 

Hi P.D.
I just wanted to let you know I successfully completed my Ph.D. last November 2007 and want to credit Adjunct Advocate for getting me started and seeing me through, and, to thank you personally for the note of confidence you gave me when you forwarded a requested paper regarding the number of dissertations about part-time or adjunct faculty. My dissertation is titled: “A Case Study of the Utilization of Adjunct Faculty in a Private University.” Everything went so well mainly because I really believe in the merit of the subject and the passion behind your publication. Sincere appreciation to you and your staff and contributors. Mahalo and aloha!
Skip Kazarian, Ph.D.
English Faculty
Hawai’i Pacific University

See why I’ve kept publishing Adjunct Advocate for almost a decade longer than I expected I would? Some day I’ll tell you about the letter from an absolutely enraged reader I got that was written in orange crayon, and the thank you note for the free subscription I received from the guy in prison.

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