Future work opportunities - availability versus commitment
February 15, 2018 5:37 AM   Subscribe

I've been doing some contract/adjunct university teaching, and am liking it. The school wants to know if I'm available for 2018/2019. I am, at the moment, but if I find a permanent position I won't be. Do I need to make this clear to the university, and if so, how to possibly phrase this? Or are they not interested? Thank you!

Pros. I like the place for a number of reasons, and I'd like to build up a roster of classes, and move up the ladder a bit.

Cons. It's definitely not paying the bills at the moment, so I'm looking for something that will do this.

I know adjuncts are disposable, and I have no real loyalty here, but I do have a good connection with the department. Any suggestions for asking for something better paying? I know they are also strapped for resources.
posted by life moves pretty fast to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Do I need to make this clear to the university...?


They know darn well they aren’t paying you a full time living wage; that’s why many fields/depts. have far more adjuncts now and less faculty. My point is it is expected that a short-term contract commitment a year out will be superseded by a permanent position.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:23 AM on February 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

In my experience, if you have a good connection with the department, they will probably be happy for you if you land something stable that actually pays your bills. Certainly they expect this to happen, and it happens often.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to make a leap from contingent faculty to someone actually on the ladder, let alone to move up the ladder. You could try to feel out the department and ask if they might have any one-year appointments, or funding for any lecturer / visiting assistant professor-type lines. I would confirm your availability with them and be clear that you're available not just on a per-semester basis, but full-time. If they like you and if they have the money, you might get a full-year, full-time appointment! (It would not pay as much as a professor would be getting, despite your doing the same amount of work, and it would still be year-to-year, but it might well come with benefits, which is nice.)

Adjuncts get their courses cancelled with zero notice all the time. Don't even feel bad about cancelling, if you do land something full-time. And, depending on your schedule and theirs, you may even be able to teach a class or two while working a more permanent position. So, absolutely, confirm your availability.
posted by halation at 7:25 AM on February 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Are you teaching at a public or private university? Are you a member of, or eligible to join, a faculty union that serves your university? If so, lecturers may have some contractual rights regarding appointments, unit entitlements, etc. Here in California, the California Faculty Association represents professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches in the California State University system. The union is somewhat helpful; they recently negotiated for a general salary increase, and a service salary increase (retroactive), and a lecturer is entitled to a one-year contract after teaching two consecutive semesters in one department. However, lecturers can't get a 3-year contract until 6 years of consecutive service, AND the union will not really help ensure that part-time lecturers get first shot at applying for full-time lecturer positions when they open up.

It might also make a difference if you have a Ph.D., versus an MA/MS. At my university, a Ph.D. is the preference for all lecturer positions, even though a lecturer is strictly a teaching position. Unfortunately, there are not enough people with a Ph.D. generally, and with a Ph.D. who strictly want to teach, and the full-time, tenure track faculty get all sorts of release time from teaching assignments, so the bulk of the classes go to lecturers.

Even if you don't have union representation, depending on your qualifications, you may have some negotiating room. Good luck!
posted by socrateaser at 8:32 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thank you, all!
posted by life moves pretty fast at 3:54 AM on February 16, 2018

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