Part-time faculty are under-valued

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Publish or Perish”
Feb. 2, 2007

To the Editor:
Part-time faculty are Western’s economic stepchildren. I take exception to the suggestion that my part-time colleagues or I lack academic credentials. One of my colleagues holds a doctorate, another is completing her dissertation, and I defended a 200-page thesis. As part-time faculty we lack the likelihood of continuing our research.

This is my first year teaching at Western; I completed my M.A. last year. It took me 30 years to pursue my dream of teaching writing to undergrads. I tell everyone I’m honoured to teach such bright students, among colleagues I admire, on a beautiful campus with a director who couldn’t be more supportive. Two of my three classes nominated me for a teaching excellence award.

But my dream job isn’t rosy.

There is no future for me. I take home $2,800 a month. I knowingly signed the contract; I didn’t know the university thought so little of part-time faculty. The department budget will not increase. If I pursued a doctorate I would complete it at 55. Would you hire me?

From a business perspective it makes sense to keep labour costs down, especially when you have a supply of available academics. But I’m not considered an academic: I should be teaching at a community college (I did. That’s why I adore my Western students). The sad truth is I’m expendable. I must leave or accept part-time status.

I want to offer a third, innovative, business alternative. Consider an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. My department’s writing expertise could assist other, wealthier departments (like Ivey) by helping students who will be future business leaders effectively communicate in their workplace. If the university values doctorates, assist me in pursuing higher academic credentials. I would use that knowledge in your classroom.

Truth is, you don’t value people; you value their ethos.
"Carolyn Greco
Part-time professor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

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