Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adjunct Professors are Fed Up with Whining Administrators

Upper-level college administrators are spectacular creatures of contradiction. They say yes when they mean mean no, and vice versa. They form committees based on vague initiatives like “Advancement Services,” “Efficiency,” and “Institutional Effectiveness,” and even establish high-salary jobs or entire departments based on these loosely-defined concepts.

Administrators continue to fail and appear to undermine their own goals at times. Often they seem confused about the purpose of their own projects, committees, and task forces, yet despite these alarming inefficiencies, upper administrators are multiplying at an alarming rate and being rewarded with executive-level salaries unbefitting of non-profit institutions of higher education meant to serve the public good. Still, if this ├╝ber-professionalized class of prolific resource-wasters is reaping the rewards of the increasingly corporatized campus, why are they always complaining?

In order to better understand the plight of our campus aristocrats, The Adjunct Majority (We Are The 75%!) has compiled a list of the common complaints senior administrators are whining about nationwide paired with their explanations, translations and/or remedies.

* Special thanks to @ProfessorEx74 (Ed.), Billy Pilgrim, @GracieG, @N1Academy, Seth Kahn, Kareme D'Wheat, and Adjunct Noise for your contributions. 


There is a state budget shortfall. Everyone must make sacrifices. EVERYONE must do more with less.

Interesting how these sacrifices don’t apply to the executive-level salaries of administrators themselves, even if drastic overspending can be linked to their individual or collective bad fiscal choices.

I know it is hard for you to survive making less than minimum wage with a PhD. Even *I* had to make sacrifices.

Loss of discretionary spending money does not constitute a sacrifice—Sorry. This heartless, pseudo-sympathetic gesture is one notch above, If you don’t like it, go do something else. It is akin to mockery.  

If you really loved teaching as much as you say you do, you’d do it for free. This should be about your calling, not the money. Whine.

Since when does training for a decade and accruing massive student debt make one eligible for the monastic lifestyle? If colleges want to treat us like a religious order, then we should be provided with room and board instead of being passed over to the Human Services Department so universities can subsidize their labor force with public assistance. Are we Walmart or a school?

Our enrollment numbers are down, AGAIN. Waaaa! (Expect for your courses to be cut.)

Well, you may be tired of hearing, “Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions,” but there’s your solution. Professors are the face of the university and are the most influential recruitment and retention specialists on campus. Improve working conditions and see a rise in enrollment numbers, as if by magic! (Note: the mystification of enrollment numbers may also be used as a threat or convenient way to get rid of specific contract professors: Don’t take it personally. It's all about the numbers.) Sure.

We can’t pay adjuncts more even if we wanted to. Your collective bargaining agreement prevents it (so it’s your fault; you shouldn’t have unionized).

Without getting into how colleges *could* actually pay their unionized adjuncts a living wage, the most obvious deficit is THE LACK OF FULL-TIME JOBS BEING PROVIDED. Blaming organized labor is a clever way to assuage responsibility or simply end the discussion.

That’s a topic for another meeting. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to give us your input.

Welcome to the dialogue management campaign. Translation: what you say does not matter to us. We don’t have to listen to you because we make the decisions around here, not faculty. (Shared governance threat level: critical.)

My job is soooo hard and complicated, and I work all the time. Someone’s got to keep the lights on in this place!

Really? Is that why your salary is five times larger than most faculty members and you look so well-rested?

Look, we can’t ask for too much. If we do, we risk getting nothing.

Though this pitiful slobber-pool of apologetics applies to faculty senates nationwide (with some exceptions), senior administrators are known to use the same rhetoric in an attempt to appear relatable to their deprofessionalized workers, who are expected to tolerate increasing levels of exploitation.

Aw, we’d really like to offer you a full-time position, but only after you’ve been at the college  for a while longer. You have to prove yourself. We value your experience and contributions, but we must conduct a national search for any full-time hire.

Said to the adjunct who’s been on campus for 15 years! Yet the department just hired the chair’s BFF from girl scout camp, and the “national search” netted someone much less experienced but much more pedigreed. Prestige trumps experience and seniority. Every time.

I don’t understand why putting 28 students in a writing class is such a hardship. The business professors have 100 in each section. You should budget your time better.

Anyone intimately involved in the actual profession of teaching knows that college composition courses are extremely labor intensive. You simply cannot Scantron your way through them. One might ask these senior administrators if they have ever taught a writing course in their illustrious career.

We’ve been getting a lot of grade complaints from students. Is there something you are struggling with, Professor X?

Translation: Pass more students or we’ll replace you. (The customer is always right!)

We’re going to need your syllabus, course materials and assignments for our department and pre-accreditation review. We need these resources on hand so that we can regulate the course outcomes and provide other instructors with the materials you have designed.

In other words: We get to steal your intellectual property and any courses you designed, including online courses, which are often twice the work of the traditional at-land versions. That's policy.

I’m so sorry, but a full-time/tenure-track professor needed to teach that course.

Translation: Despite your demonstrated excellence as an instructor, you have no job security or reasonable assurance of continued employment. Deal with it, lowly adjunct (the cold heart at the center of contingent contract work).  

What are you talking about, rabble-rousers? We love our adjuncts and do nice things for them all the time. We just remodeled the adjunct faculty office and gave you more new [old] computers with outdated software! Is that not nice? 

Remodeling the adjunct faculty office does not make up for the fact that adjunct professors are not paid salaries commensurate with their experience. If any employee working full-time hours at a college or university still qualifies for food stamps, something is wrong.

Now, stop whining!


  1. They all need to walk in our shoes for a few days!

    1. I hope one day they will walk in our shoes. We could make this a reality by simply walking out--at least that's what I dreamt about last night.

    2. Exactly. But all at once. Many have left, but individually, as I did. That's not the way.

      When I left, there was no movement. I just had enough. It didn't accomplish anything, though.

      I am glad to hear people talking about a walkout. It's the only way.

  2. Wow, this college gives the adjuncts an office. Way better than my college.