Adjunct Faculty Slighted on Space

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Even with the recent addition of Kalmanovitz Hall to campus, office space is still a hot commodity and remains elusive for some faculty. Adjunct faculty, in particular, have had difficulty obtaining offices and office equipment.

Two of the departments that have been inconvenienced by the space issue are the theology and modern languages departments. While full time faculty are guaranteed offices with windows, adjunct faculty often have to share offices or make due without an office. Lois Lorentzen, theology professor and chair of the theology and religious studies department, said, “We as a department feel badly about how they [adjunct faculty] are treated.” She said that the faculty assigned offices in the trailers that sit on Welch Field were promised offices with computers and telephones by Aug. 28 of this year, but when classes started two weeks later, they were still waiting for their computers and telephones. To make matters worse, they were also locked out of their trailers, which caused a problem for professors trying to hold office hours, as they had no place to facilitate office hours. According to the adjunct faculty contract, professors are required to schedule and maintain office hours. Lorentzen said that adjunct faculty were never told where they should go to hold office hours. An unnamed adjunct professor assigned to a trailer said “I was not offered a workable office space.” The professor said that the office did not have a chair, computer or telephone.

The lack of office space on campus has forced USF to convert the fourth floor of Gleeson library into a large office space. This space will have offices, meeting rooms and lockers. Peter Novak, associate dean for arts and humanities, said that the move to K-Hall created “a lack of structure around space,” which cramped adjunct faculty. Novak is part of an informal group comprised of facilities, ITS, and the dean’s offices that is working to meet adjunct needs. He understood their frustrations and said, “We want to make sure their needs are being met as well as possible.”

In addition to needing an office to work from and hold office hours, there are privacy issues involved with the adjunct faculty space dilemma. An adjunct professor, who asked not to be named, said that professors shouldn’t be in the library working because privacy issues are raised when they are viewing a student’s grades or work on a computer that could be viewed by other students. Working from a computer lab does not guarantee students privacy when a professor is trying to correct their work. The source said that the main concern is to have private access to computers. The previous unnamed professor said he has not been able to serve students as well as he would like.

Another adjunct issue is that of achieving higher positions within the university. There is a Preferred Hiring Pool (PHP) that adjunct faculty can join. To apply to join the PHP, faculty need to have two years teaching experience at USF and have their classes and evaluations observed and reviewed by the dean. After being accepted to the PHP, members enjoy a retirement plan, raises and access to a Kaiser healthcare plan. The unnamed adjunct professor said, “After the PHP, there is no room for advancement.” The professor explained that there are only a handful of full time positions available to adjunct faculty, most of which hold master’s degrees, as opposed to Ph.D.s. In addition, a professor who has previously taught at USF is at a disadvantage when applying for a full time position, because often the hiring board is composed of professors that a professor would normally request a recommendation from and they are not allowed to write a recommendation for a professor if they are part of the hiring board.

Adjunct professors often teach the lower division courses that full time and tenured professors do not want to teach. Instead, these professors prefer to teach the upper division courses.The unnamed professor pointed out that the first two years of a student’s education are taught by mostly adjunct faculty and it is essential that students have a solid foundation, in which to succeed in upper division courses with full time professors.

Lorentzen said that the adjunct faculty at USF are “very dedicated and are great teachers,” and that faculty should feel like they are valued. The unnamed adjunct professor suggested that full time faculty share offices with adjunct faculty who do not have offices. The professor remains hopeful about the situation, saying that USF’s contract for adjunct faculty is better than at most universities, but “USF could be at the forefront of making a real change.”

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