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Long-Term Adjunct

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  1. Jul 12, 2015 #1
    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?
     
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  3. Jul 12, 2015 #2

    OldEngr63

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    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.
     
  4. Jul 12, 2015 #3
    I'm a great teacher, but a mediocre researcher (as far as I know). I'm not sure if anyone would hire me.
     
  5. Jul 12, 2015 #4

    Evo

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    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.
     
  6. Jul 12, 2015 #5

    OldEngr63

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    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.
     
  7. Jul 12, 2015 #6

    bcrowell

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    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?
     
  8. Jul 12, 2015 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    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!
     
  9. Jul 12, 2015 #8

    symbolipoint

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    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?
     
  10. Jul 12, 2015 #9

    bcrowell

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    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.
     
  11. Jul 12, 2015 #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.
     
  12. Jul 12, 2015 #11
    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.)
     
  13. Jul 13, 2015 #12

    ZapperZ

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    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.
     
  14. Jul 15, 2015 #13
    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.
     
  15. Jul 15, 2015 #14

    ZapperZ

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    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.
     
  16. Jul 15, 2015 #15
    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.)
     
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