“Assistant Professor of Advertising/Public Relations; Full-time, tenure track, New York Institute of Technology.” So read the job ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the “bible” of the college profession. Just the type of position I’ve been seeking, after 17 years as an NYIT adjunct. Problem is, this job search, advertised last fall, is on hold indefinitely.
A second career for me, teaching followed 25 years in advertising and public relations. Now I am spreading the knowledge, wisdom, and connections gained from ad agency and corporate communications work in this post-Mad Men era of digital and social media. Yes, I love teaching; yeah, I’m good at it!
So what is wrong with being an adjunct, teaching part-time, as I have for some 17 years at NYIT, and as an adjunct at Columbia University, FIT, and last year as a full-time visiting professor at SUNY Oswego? Nothing, if one is independently wealthy, has a pension (unlikely in the media business), or is able to cobble together an inconvenient schedule teaching at three or four colleges (if this is Tuesday, where am I supposed to be)? Adjuncts receive no medical or dental benefits, and no pension.
What is right about full-time teaching (let’s address tenure another time) is the sharing of knowledge and methods with colleagues. A recent petition by “NYIT faculty” against Trump’s immigration moves excluded adjuncts and non-tenured full-timers, who teach the lion’s share of NYIT courses.
Full-time faculty nationally number under 20 percent, most classes taught by part-timers who earn roughly a quarter of full-timers pay. Yes, an applicant full time usually needs a doctorate. (By the way, I am now $85,000 in debt after last year receiving mine to qualify for full time).
College administrations are slow to, or simply do not, replace full-time professors: there is cheap adjunct talent in the pipeline. At SUNY Oswego, and other schools, barring good professors from full-time (and tenure track) has reached high art. I know some VPs who have gone year to year for as much as a decade, no job security nor health benefits. It helps preserve the administration’s top-heavy financial obligations. It’s time for NYIT to reassess its approach to adjuncts – and please, take that full-time position off hold.