Adjunct Instructor, Lecturer, Professor...?
January 21, 2008 8:49 PM   Subscribe

My contract said "Adjunct Professor." My faculty ID card said "Adjunct Instructor." My paycheck said "Lecture/Adjunct." I never cared since this was just a two-year, part-time gig and I had no further interest in academia... but I do need to call it something in my bio. I don't have a terminal degree, suggesting and the contract was wrong and the ID card was right. I emailed the department; they said they'd check but didn't email back (I'll ask again). This was at a large private university in the U.S. I have to finalize a bio tonight -- should I just say Adjunct Instructor?
posted by anonymous to Education (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd go with what's on the contract, personally. (Especially seeing as how it's the most impressive-sounding.)
posted by ottereroticist at 8:55 PM on January 21, 2008

If this is just for a bio, rather than a resume where an exact title is important, you could simply say you "taught Subject X for several years at University Y" and leave the actual academic rank out of it.
posted by zachlipton at 8:59 PM on January 21, 2008

Always take the maximum.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:04 PM on January 21, 2008

I would go with exactly the title that was on your job description, nothing more nothing less.
posted by parmanparman at 9:05 PM on January 21, 2008

I would absolutely go by your contract, from among those sources. I would, however, continue to seek to confirm it with your department, as you don't want their answer to vary from yours if they are ever asked.

I assume you have already, but google yourself and the name of your university, as that is the most likely course for anyone else. If one is particularly prominent, consider that a strong argument for that choice.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:07 PM on January 21, 2008

That's how we did it, where I used to be. It was very confusing. A person just like you would be called a Clinical Lecturer, an Adjunct Instructor, a Professor-of-Practice depending on the paperwork. All would be technically correct.

Use whatever sounds best!
posted by pinky at 9:07 PM on January 21, 2008

Could you just use "adjunct" as a noun and not pair it with anything?
posted by occhiblu at 9:08 PM on January 21, 2008

I'd go with adjunct professor. I teach as an adjunct professor in our department, and there are different ranks within the adjunct position, of which lecturer is one designation. At our school, it's the highest adjunct rank, in terms of pay scale. It would make sense that your paycheck indicates your rank as an adjunct, if they do something similarly. Some of the difference may simply be semantics as well. For example, they may be using professor and instructor interchangably; or, in some cases, different departments responsible for parts of your contract processing (like processing your ID) may have not been on the same page regarding designation. In any case, I think professor sounds best, and that's what I would go with, if asked, especially since it was on your department contract.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:13 PM on January 21, 2008

I would go with exactly the title that was on your job description, nothing more nothing less.

While it's good to have "truth in advertising," it's also important to communicate what you do or are.

I'm an Assistant Professor and to me Adjunct Professor and Adjunct Lecturer mean different things. Professors tend to be more involved in research, while Lecturers are primarily instructors of courses. I would use the term that more clearly connotes what you do. "Taking the maximum" can annoy some people and confuse others.

It also depends on the intended audience for your bio. If it's going to be read by people in industry, i.e. outside of the university setting, it doesn't really matter. If it's going to be read by other professors, I would use the one that's more accurate.
posted by mausburger at 9:14 PM on January 21, 2008

The terms mean the exact same thing and it would not be dishonest to use either one. I think Adjunct Professor sounds better.
posted by LarryC at 9:19 PM on January 21, 2008

I concur with mausburger: I'd take Adjunct Professor to mean, e.g., a contractually-limited (i.e., non-tenure-track) assistant professor. Adjunct Lecturer would mean an instructor/sessional. The distinction for me would depend on whether you were making a yearly salary (presumably at a much higher rate) as a professor, or a per-course wage (presumably at a lower rate) as a lecturer.
posted by astrochimp at 9:32 PM on January 21, 2008

On a related note, does the field you're in not have rather well defined boundaries for the categories of professor and lecturer (mine certainly does)? If so, stick to them; if not, call yourself what you want, stay calm, and carry on.
posted by astrochimp at 9:35 PM on January 21, 2008

Use what's on the contract. That's the legal document establishing your relationship with the university.
posted by robcorr at 9:36 PM on January 21, 2008

Adjunct Professor is correct, denoting a rank within the Professoriate. You were not an Assistant, nor Associate, nor Full...there's nothing misleading about this.

In some countries, this is exactly the reason you will hear people called "Doctor Professor Smith". Doctor is an earned degree, Professor is a position at a University. Doc is the honorarium, but Prof is the job.

Go with Adjunct Professor.
posted by griffey at 9:42 PM on January 21, 2008

How about using the term "adjunct faculty?"
posted by chicainthecity at 10:41 PM on January 21, 2008

Agree with everyone else on using the contract title, especially so as it would carry the most weight on a CV / bio.

FWIW, I teach finance part time at a University in London and have had a similar experience: contract says "Associate Professor", Staff ID card says "Visiting Lecturer", I'm in the online directory as some type of Assistant, payroll has assigned my title some code that nobody can explain, and it seems whomever you ask on the admin side has a different label for me that's intended to describe my role.

Sounds like a common problem at large University's.
posted by Mutant at 12:14 AM on January 22, 2008

I agree that you are entitled to call yourself "Adjunct Professor" (which doesn't imply research activity to me). No one is going to check your ID card or paycheck. If you need proof you can always supply your contract. Something that people might check is the university directory. You haven't said what it says, but if it doesn't say "Adjunct Professor," you should get it fixed.
posted by grouse at 1:21 AM on January 22, 2008

At the institutions where I've worked, what astrochimp is describing as an Adjunct Professor (a non-tenure-track Assistant Professor) is described as a Visiting Assistant Professor.
posted by umbĂș at 4:18 AM on January 22, 2008

I came in to say I've been an Adjunct Instructor in the past, and that's the term I'd use since it's the most common one and, either way, anyone reading it knows there's no real difference. However, SpacemanStix's experience is different. Color me enlightened.
I also came in to use run-on sentences.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:18 AM on January 22, 2008

Use what your contract says, then back yourself up by emailing your resume with the job title on it to your department chair and the university legal department saying "this is my resume, see the job title I listed, tell me in 2 weeks if this is not ok."
posted by footnote at 6:42 AM on January 22, 2008

At the institutions where I've worked, what astrochimp is describing as an Adjunct Professor (a non-tenure-track Assistant Professor) is described as a Visiting Assistant Professor.

Again, this varies by place. At some schools, an "adjunct" professor/lecturer may be full or part time, and may have a long-term relationship (to the point, in some cases, of having tenure) with the school; a "visiting" professor would then be a short-term employee, often limited by internal rules to a 5 year stay. These terms are incredibly slippery, and get used even within one institution in very loose ways. So I think you need to pick the answer that feels ethical to you, and is likely to be supported by the department, but it really may just come down to a guess for you. In your case, I would go by the contract, not the ID card or pay slip (the people who make the ID cards and do payroll often have a limited number of options -- student, faculty, staff -- and anyone in a grey area just gets slotted into the closest box, whereas the contract was written and signed by people actively involved in being professors and administrators and who would presumably know and care about the details of faculty rank.
posted by Forktine at 6:43 AM on January 22, 2008

Hi, I work in higher education.

List your job as "Adjunct Professor". The paycheck description is as such because that's how it is listed for billing purposes.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2008

A "visiting" professor is usually paid a salary for a determined period of time (a semester or a year, usually). And "adjunct" professor is paid by the course, and usually far less. "Visiting" appointments are generally used to hire people who already have jobs, or are moving to a new university but awaiting a tenure decision, or wavering about which job to take, or to one-year replacements who take a leave from another job. "Visiting" is an official title, not a casual word.

OP, you're and adjunct professor in the eyes of the academic world, and as someone in the business who reads academic resumes all the time (on search committees, for example), I would not even pause over that title to describe what you got paid for. It's fine to call yourself that no matter what the contract said, at least in the US.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:25 AM on January 25, 2008

I have no idea why I wrote "and" for "an" several times above. See what happens when you get tenure?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:27 AM on January 25, 2008

Just a note: if you are sending your resume, etc, overseas, you may want to use "instructor" which may be confusing to a non-North American audience (as it is literally what you did). I know that in Britain, at least, "Professor" is only ever used to describe the very highest academic rank. Everyone else is "Reader", "Lecturer", "Instructor", etc, and never uses the title "professor" unless they are officially a Professor. (It's a pretty big deal there, being made Full Professor.)

But within North America, titles are a lot more lax, though I think I would err more on calling myself an instructor when teaching unless I had a faculty position. (There are so many assumptions that goes with the title "professor", including that one has a PhD.)
posted by jb at 12:01 AM on January 27, 2008

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