As a relatively small community college district, Gila County Community College (GCC) must rely on a large number of adjunct faculty to teach the majority of our courses. These adjunct faculty are critical links between our students and the respective course topics.
It isn't easy being an adjunct faculty. First, they do not teach for the money. For the time spent on some courses, they could realize more per hour picking cantaloupes in Yuma.
In addition to the time actually spent in the classroom, there is preparation time. The college does not offer any offices to adjunct faculty, so they often end up spreading their books and materials across their kitchen table or their home study, as they prepare to teach a class -- likewise for grading students papers and exams. (So if a student happens to spot a bit of jam or mustard on his or her assignment, that student may now understand.)
Second, in order to be found worthy to teach for GCC, the adjunct faculty has had to be found qualified. One does not just show up and decide to teach a course. For many courses and subjects, at least a master's degree is required, and not just any master's degree. The adjunct faculty must have the proper master's degree in that particular subject, or at least a certain number of credits in that subject (whatever it is). For vocational-type courses, a certain experience level must be met before one is certified to teach a course.
Third, adjunct faculty must be prepared to sacrifice some prime time. At GCC, most courses are offered in the evening, thus causing adjunct faculty to miss segments of a favorite television show or "Monday Night Football." Some courses are offered on Saturdays, necessitating giving up part of a weekend.
Fourth, adjunct faculty must be willing to travel. While the campus of GCC may be located in Payson, not all of our adjunct faculty lives here. A drive from Pine or Strawberry is not unusual. We have had adjunct faculty commute from Kohl's Ranch to teach an evening class.
Fifth, and last on my list, is a passion for the students. It is a passion that is shared by all our adjunct faculty, and it just might be the reason they keep returning. Our adjunct faculty is passionate about teaching and passing on their knowledge and experience to students.
Sixth, and I'm sure there is a sixth and a seventh and an eighth.
Without a dedicated cadre of "part-time" adjunct faculty, GCC just would not be able to function and offer the wide selection of courses that it does. Join me in offering a heartfelt "thank you" to our adjunct faculty.