This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Being an adjunct faculty at Glendale Community College


I just loved teaching at GCC, and I still enjoy going over there nowadays, where I use the Fitness Center and the track, and I occasionally eat a cheeseburger (highly recommended!). And even though I haven't taught there for many years, I still feel at home there, which is strange since I was just an adjunct faculty.

If you're not familiar with the term "adjunct" - it just means a part-time teacher who comes in, does a class or two, and leaves. They have no office, no telephone number, no guarantee that they will get any classes to teach the next semester, and they are about 80% of the teachers in the Maricopa County Community Colleges System.

Now waitaminute, this isn't a conspiracy, man, this was just something that happened in order to keep the costs down and the schools open. I have no idea how long this has been going on, but based on the word "adjunct", which means "in addition to", it makes me think that all of this just kind'a snuck up on the system. As of this writing, many of the very last of the full-time professors are retiring, and with them will be going away the reason that Maricopa County needed to scrounge for cheap teachers - those impressive early salaries and great benefits. Yeah, adjuncts don't get a salary, nor do they get benefits. They are hired by contract per class and are given a particular dollar amount. If a class is cancelled, of course they get nothing.

I enjoyed teaching there because I was doing other stuff, like personal training, and corporate training, in Adobe software. And really, that's what an adjunct faculty position was designed for - either someone who was looking to earn a little bit more on the side, or maybe someone who just wanted to give back to the community. They were never supposed have the same salary and benefits as the full-time faculty.

Of course, the schools found that they could do with less and less of the expensive full-time faculty, so as the enrollment grew, the majority of the teaching ended up being done by the people who were just supposed to be "adjunct" - you know, in addition. That addition, as I mentioned, had grown to 80% of the teachers in the system by the time I started in 2001, and it's still pretty much the same nowadays.

Yeah, it would be nice to pay the teachers a decent salary, give them benefits, and some type of job security. But that's ruinously expensive - and the money has to come from somewhere, taxes, tuition, and most people would agree that taxes and tuition are already too high.

As I said, my experience in my years at GCC was positive. I wasn't trying to use an adjunct position as if it were a full-time job. I worked at a lot of places, doing software training, and also doing Graphic Design and Illustration freelance, which I've been doing all of my adult life.

I understand why Maricopa County is doing this, and I'm OK with it. Still, one of those full-time faculty positions would have been nice...!

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