In These Economic Times: Keeping Up With the Tenured


LanceBy Helene A. Matheny

There are two realities related to our current economic climate that relate to being a Freeway Flyer adjunct.  To our benefit, with the ballooning cost of higher education, more students are seeking to earn their core credits at quality community colleges. To our disadvantage, budget cuts at colleges, both public and private, junior and four-year, are creating a situation in which we have to compete more for those community college slots.

However, there are still things an adjunct by choice can do to keep up with those with still non-tenured Ph.D.s and be seen as valued as tenured faculty.

Publish – Just because you are an adjunct does not mean you are excluded from writing on your subject. There are a plethora of publications, journals, newspapers, and online publications that you can look into. Adjuncts are as excited about their fields as tenured faculty. Search online or go to a bookstore with a large periodical section and scan the publications each month – there are many journals continually seeking contributors with relevant points of view. There is also no reason you cannot write that book you always wanted to – often I have found the works of independent scholars fresher and more insightful than those of tenured faculty. Writer’s Digest’s online market offers great publications and webinars on getting started in this.

Promote Yourself – Send résumés out to as many colleges as you are willing to drive to, even if you have a “core” set of campuses that you are asked back to. I’ve gotten calls a year or more after I sent out a resume. If they like your background, they will keep it on file.

Diversify – Get some related work or take some extra graduate classes to qualify you to teach an area you would like to. In my recent post The Well Rounded Adjunct, I discuss ideas for related work and some ideas for where to find it. Working and teaching in different environments and to different audiences will keep your lessons fresh and give you extra tools to bring to your classroom.

Research – Keep up with current articles, trends, opinions, thoughts and publications in your subject field. Currently, I work in a bookstore part-time while also teaching, and every month I scan the periodicals for relevant publications and articles related to my field and interests. I also peruse the book aisles to see what new books have come out that may help enhance my teaching subject.

Make yourself known on campus – Even Freeway Flyers can find time to get involved with some activities and events on the campuses they teach at.

  • Attend staff meetings when able-especially “welcome” meetings at the beginning of the semester. They are a great place and time to network.
  • Go to special events that are of interest to you and your students.
  • Participate in clubs, groups, and honor societies – which have chapters at most universities.
  • Contribute to the college newspaper or newsletter.
  • If any of your colleges sets up web pages for faculty, make sure they do for you as well. This allows you to tell your colleagues and your students a little more about yourself as well as having a place to post your syllabi and other relevant information

Lastly, remember that adjuncts, and Freeway Flyers in particular, have a great deal in common with today’s students. We have more direct experience with juggling multiple jobs than our tenured colleagues, and balancing these with the demands of  today’s world. This alone offers a great opportunity to connect with your students.

About the Freeway Flyer: Helene Goldstein Matheny received a B.A. in history from Rutgers University, an MA in Russian History and Literature from the University of London, and an M.S.Th. degree from The New Seminary, where she was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. She has lived in Russia and England, and traveled throughout Europe, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. Helene has taught most frequently as an adjunct professor of history for the last ten years in New York, New Jersey and Mississippi, in addition to teaching history, comparative religion and astronomy at museums and other learning institutions.  She is also an accredited pet dog trainer, writes freelance, and has presided over hundreds of weddings as an Interfaith Celebrant and currently lives in Purvis, MS with her husband, three parrots,  a cat and a dog.

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