Percentage of adjunct, Ph.D. instructors falls

Missouri Southern’s percentage of adjunct professors compared to tenure Ph.D. instructors has dropped over the past four years.

The number of adjunct professors has dropped from almost 48 percent in 2006 to almost 42 percent in 2009. Forty-one percent of faculty was adjunct in 2008. This number rose from 40 percent in 2007. The number of instructors holding doctorates has also fallen from 61 percent in 2006 to 58 percent in 2009.

The number of overall faculty jumped from 208 to 215 between 2006 and 2007. It then dropped to 211 in 2008 and fell back to 208 in 2009.

“We’ve noticed in this department [science] that as we lose tenure faculty we aren’t getting them replaced with tenure faculty,” Professor of physics, Dr. Roger Chelf, said. “That’s what we’re upset about. We realize there is belt-tightening going on. What we want to knows is, if we can’t hire tenure tract people now; because the administration views that as a long term financial commitment, when can we? Have they looked into their crystal ball and determined when we can?”

An adjunct professor is a part-time professor who is not on a tenure track. They often have a much lighter teaching load then that of a tenure professor and do not share the same benefits of a full time instructor.

Adjunct instructors are not required to hold a Ph.D. and many adjuncts instruct only general education courses.

“Those numbers do not include overloads,” Dr. Delores Honey, assistant vice president for assessment and institutional research, said. “That is, a faculty who teaches more than their contract time. If a faculty is contracted for 12 hours and teaches an extra course bringing them up to 15, we don’t count that.”

Chelf said hiring people on a temporary term lessens the desire for them to take on an extra load. He said they don’t spend as much time on committees and actually serving the University.

“Beginning people in the tenure track want to be good citizens,” Chelf said. “If you ask these people to do overloads, they are certainly reluctant to say ‘no’. They want to be good citizens.”

Honey said in reality the number of adjunct faculty has decreased in the last four years.

“However, these numbers only include adjuncts who actually taught a course,” She said. “In our reports we leave out someone who comes from off campus to supervise a student teacher and situations like that. It also doesn’t take into account overload so; it is kind of hard to find out for certain.”

Chelf said since Bruce Speck took office; Southern has entered a “hiring moratorium.”

“It wouldn’t be fair to say that we haven’t hired anybody into a tenure-track,” he said. “I’ve noticed there have been very few. For the most part on campus we have been hiring people on a one or two year contract.”

Chelf said there is a place for adjunct faculty on any campus. Adjuncts become helpful to schools since student population and faculty interest fluctuate as well as department sizes.

“You can get some very good teachers who are adjuncts,” he said. “You can also get bad ones. The problem is being able to identify which is which.”