Long-Term Adjunct Professor: Finding Community

  • Thread starter Scott Hill
  • Start date
In summary: I think you should look for a job in industry, Scott. There are many "routine" industrial jobs that are far from routine if you show that you have capability and initiative. With a PhD in hand, you have lots of information that is not common knowledge in many business areas, so why not use it? Even if you are not breaking new ground in fundamental research, if you are solving problems that are valuable to the employer, you are doing something worthwhile with your life and earning your keep. You might discover that it is really fun to solve "routine" but difficult problems.
  • #1
Scott Hill
38
17
Hi! I'm an adjunct professor of physics (currently waiting to hear if I have a job in the fall). I got my Ph.D. back in 2002 and have been teaching (mostly part-time) for about 10 years. I haven't felt like a part of a physics community for a long time: the schools I've taught at mostly had a non-collaborative atmosphere, and I've had a hard time settling into a research community or even a research field. (I've published papers in quantum information theory, soft condensed matter, computational neuroscience, bus traffic dynamics, and complex networks.) So maybe this is the place. Any other long-time adjuncts here?
 
  • Like
Likes atyy
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
I think you have been suckered. I strongly recommend that you find an industrial position with some potential to do work that really interests you and get on with life. There is life outside of academia -- believe it or not! I been back and forth across that fence many times, and I would not stay an adjunct for all the tea in China.
 
  • Like
Likes atyy
  • #3
I'm a great teacher, but a mediocre researcher (as far as I know). I'm not sure if anyone would hire me.
 
  • #4
Hi Scott, you posted this in "Member Introductions Only - NO questions allowed", so I have moved it for you. Please take a moment before you post to make sure that you have chosen the correct forum.
 
  • #5
Scott, the world needs great teachers, in many respects, I think it needs them far more than it needs great researchers. I would urge you to look at either a community college position, or get out into industry and look for a non-research position. There are lots of "routine" industrial jobs that are far from routine if you show that you have capability and initiative. With a PhD in hand, you have lots of information that is not common knowledge in many business areas, so why not use it? Even if you are not breaking new ground in fundamental research, if you are solving problems that are valuable to the employer, you are doing something worthwhile with your life and earning your keep. You might discover that it is really fun to solve "routine" but difficult problems.
 
  • Like
Likes Scott Hill
  • #6
Hi, Scott -- I'm a tenured community college physics professor at Fullerton College in Southern California. PF is definitely a very healthy and welcoming community, so if your main intention was to establish contact with people who you could relate to professionally, I think you've come to the right place! It sounds like you've been at research universities. Any interest in community college teaching?
 
  • Like
Likes atyy
  • #7
Similarly, hello -- I'm an associate professor at Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH), and I echo bcrowell's welcome. Check out the "educators and teaching" subforum!
 
  • Like
Likes Scott Hill and atyy
  • #8
bcrowell said:
Hi, Scott -- I'm a tenured community college physics professor at Fullerton College in Southern California. PF is definitely a very healthy and welcoming community, so if your main intention was to establish contact with people who you could relate to professionally, I think you've come to the right place! It sounds like you've been at research universities. Any interest in community college teaching?
The community colleges give the same disadvantages that Scott is complaining about. The community colleges want to try to adjust to changing quantities of students in their departments, want to avoid paying employee benefits to teachers/professors who cannot always be retained employed, and so use adjuncts as a way to adjust to enrollment changes and save money. For this, many advanced degree people struggle to find more and more adjunct positions in teaching and never have anything steady. Is the situation better at Fullerton College?
 
  • Like
Likes atyy
  • #9
symbolipoint said:
The community colleges give the same disadvantages that Scott is complaining about. The community colleges want to try to adjust to changing quantities of students in their departments, want to avoid paying employee benefits to teachers/professors who cannot always be retained employed, and so use adjuncts as a way to adjust to enrollment changes and save money. For this, many advanced degree people struggle to find more and more adjunct positions in teaching and never have anything steady. Is the situation better at Fullerton College?

The use and abuse of adjunct faculty exists at community colleges, including Fullerton College. But Scott feels good about his teaching and not as good about his research, which suggests that he might be a better fit for a community college than a research university. If you're an excellent teacher, it's often surprisingly easy to get a full-time job at a CC. I've been on half a dozen hiring committees for full-time CC positions, and for physics, in most cases the pools are pretty small and a *very* large percentage of the applications are horrible.
 
  • Like
Likes Scott Hill and atyy
  • #10
I don't have any experience with industry and I'm not even sure where to begin looking for such positions, or applying for them. It feels like a large-scale project, and only one of several roads I am considering.
And I'm not ready to give up on academia yet. I didn't mention that I've spent the past ten years following my wife as she completed a post-doc and then a tenure-track position. My geographic options, therefore, have been very limited. (We live in Toledo now and there are only 5 schools within an hour's drive.) I've also been at home with our two children, the younger of whom starts pre-school this year. I finally have the opportunity to do a nationwide job search.
 
  • #11
bcrowell said:
Hi, Scott -- I'm a tenured community college physics professor at Fullerton College in Southern California. PF is definitely a very healthy and welcoming community, so if your main intention was to establish contact with people who you could relate to professionally, I think you've come to the right place! It sounds like you've been at research universities. Any interest in community college teaching?
I've taught at community colleges, liberal arts, small and large universities…the works. The first community college I taught at was down in Dallas, and they had exactly one full-time physics professor, who would end up teaching 5-7 sections at a time, whatever they couldn't get adjuncts to cover. Seemed rather crazy to me, and maybe a little lonely too. More recently, I've taught one class at our local CC and will try to teach more there. Unfortunately they're in dire financial straits and have had a long-term hiring freeze on. (Ohio's state government isn't as anti-education as Wisconsin's yet, but it's not good.)
 
  • #12
Scott Hill said:
I don't have any experience with industry and I'm not even sure where to begin looking for such positions, or applying for them. It feels like a large-scale project, and only one of several roads I am considering.
And I'm not ready to give up on academia yet. I didn't mention that I've spent the past ten years following my wife as she completed a post-doc and then a tenure-track position. My geographic options, therefore, have been very limited. (We live in Toledo now and there are only 5 schools within an hour's drive.) I've also been at home with our two children, the younger of whom starts pre-school this year. I finally have the opportunity to do a nationwide job search.

So, you never actually say (unless I missed it) why you wish to pursue this. Are you looking for a more stable employment? Are you wishing to establish your career as a physicist? Or are you simply bored and no longer wish to do what you were doing?

To me, if you are happy or content with what you were doing, then I'd say continue doing it. If you gain your own self-satisfaction at teaching these students (and you said you are a good teacher), then there's already plenty to be proud of.

Zz.
 
  • Like
Likes Scott Hill and atyy
  • #13
ZapperZ said:
So, you never actually say (unless I missed it) why you wish to pursue this. Are you looking for a more stable employment? Are you wishing to establish your career as a physicist? Or are you simply bored and no longer wish to do what you were doing?

To me, if you are happy or content with what you were doing, then I'd say continue doing it. If you gain your own self-satisfaction at teaching these students (and you said you are a good teacher), then there's already plenty to be proud of.

Zz.

The school I've been teaching at (3 years as a VAP, 3 years as an adjunct) is trying to phase out adjuncts. My department is in the process of hiring their third lecturer, and once they do chances are good that they won't need me to fill in the gaps anymore. Then too, money is a little tight (though nowhere near what many adjuncts deal with). If I could be a full-time lecturer, no tenure but with a certain amount of stability from year to year, I would be happy as a clam. I wish more schools would hire lecturers; most ads I see on the Chronicle and APS websites are for tenure-track, which usually means some semblance of a research program.
 
  • #14
Scott Hill said:
The school I've been teaching at (3 years as a VAP, 3 years as an adjunct) is trying to phase out adjuncts. My department is in the process of hiring their third lecturer, and once they do chances are good that they won't need me to fill in the gaps anymore.

Are you in the running to apply for this position? One would think that since they are already familiar with you, and you are familiar with them, that you might have an advantage over other candidates.

Zz.
 
  • #15
ZapperZ said:
Are you in the running to apply for this position? One would think that since they are already familiar with you, and you are familiar with them, that you might have an advantage over other candidates.

Zz.
I certainly did apply, back at the end of May. I have heard nothing from them: no interview request, and they haven't contacted my references. As the semester starts in a month, I am not holding my breath. (I probably shouldn't say any more as I don't know who's reading.)
 

Related to Long-Term Adjunct Professor: Finding Community

1. What is a long-term adjunct professor?

A long-term adjunct professor is a part-time faculty member who teaches at a college or university on a contract or semester-to-semester basis, rather than having a permanent, tenure-track position.

2. How does one become a long-term adjunct professor?

To become a long-term adjunct professor, one typically needs to have a graduate degree in the subject they wish to teach, as well as relevant work experience. They also need to apply and be hired by a college or university as an adjunct professor.

3. What are the benefits of being a long-term adjunct professor?

The benefits of being a long-term adjunct professor include the flexibility to teach at multiple institutions, the ability to gain teaching experience, and the opportunity to share knowledge and passion for a subject with students. Some institutions may also offer professional development and networking opportunities for adjunct professors.

4. How does a long-term adjunct professor find community?

A long-term adjunct professor can find community by networking with other adjunct professors, joining professional organizations, participating in faculty development programs, and attending conferences and workshops. They can also connect with other faculty members and staff at the institutions where they teach and join online communities for adjunct professors.

5. What are some challenges faced by long-term adjunct professors?

Some challenges faced by long-term adjunct professors include lack of job security, lower pay compared to full-time faculty, and limited benefits. They may also face challenges in building a sense of community and belonging within their institutions, as well as difficulty balancing multiple teaching assignments and responsibilities.

Similar threads

  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
21
Views
3K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
2
Views
697
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
2
Views
422
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
25
Views
2K
Replies
26
Views
3K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
33
Views
2K
Replies
17
Views
2K
Back
Top