A President Speaks

This week we’ve got a rare perspective on the question of adjuncts and writing: a brief interview with a university president who is also a former adjunct. Alan Walker is president of Upper Iowa University. He’s a former (and long term) adjunct—and president of a school who uses adjuncts extensively. Alan was gracious enough to answer a few questions with us about his experience, and about his perspective on adjuncts and writing.

AA: Where were you an adjunct and for how long? 

Alan Walker: I’ve been an adjunct on an intermittent basis for credit and noncredit (i.e., continuing education) programs at several postsecondary higher educational organizations since 1982. My first experience was with the Idaho State Division of Vocational Education. I also taught as an adjunct for Louisiana State University, University of Missouri, Arkansas Technical University, and Western Michigan University.

AA: Did you publish during that time?

Alan Walker: Yes, between 1991 and 1999 I produced 17 articles for journals and conference papers for presentations.

AA: How supportive were the institutions that employed you?

Alan Walker: Direct support from the institutions where I worked at the time was minimal, but frankly, I never expected nor sought any. Indirectly, support from the institutions came in the form of participation in professional organizations and attendance at national and international professional conferences.  Such indirect support was important and had a major positive impact.

AA: What role did your scholarship have in becoming president of UIU?

Alan Walker: Interesting question, perhaps more aptly answered by those who were on the search committee that made the hiring decision that resulted in my first presidency. It may have played somewhat of a role in the eyes of those on the committee representing the academic constituency that make up a university, but my sense is other factors prevailed such as experience, character, personality, leadership, communications skills, etc.

AA: UIU employees numerous adjuncts. How do you support these adjuncts as scholars, and what do you hope to do in the future?

Alan Walker: Unfortunately, I would characterize UIU’s level of support in this area for adjuncts as minimal. My sense is that the support which does exist comes about on an adhoc basis, rather than through a structured and institutionalized program. However, there is potential for expanding initiatives (currently available to full-time faculty) to adjunct faculty, such as the Teaching with Technology grant program, administered by the Office of the President, as well as other faculty development programs.  It’s a question of ramping up resource levels. Resources that support the scholarship of faculty are presently distributed over approximately 60 full-time faculty, and at present, there is more demand than there are resources. The inclusion of adjunct faculty would further spread these limited resources out over an additional 400 adjunct faculty.  Make no mistake, though, our goal should be to maximize opportunities and develop strategies that will help to assimilate all faculty into the University, and specifically, into their respective academic homes within the organizational architecture of UIU. We are presently engaged on accomplishing this with the first full-time faculty who have been recently deployed as part of our academic extension system. Our goal is to expand this assimilation to include adjunct faculty and certainly, one strategy for doing so is to expand programs that support scholarly activity of adjuncts.  To this, I am deeply committed.

AA: Thank you for your time and your honesty.

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