Sunday, July 15, 2012

New admin in the college workplace: just not getting it


At my community college we have a relatively new upper administration. The President is just finishing her 2nd year and the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) just finished her first year here. Neither one has strong academic background and the VPAA has not yet learned the 'culture' of the College. For example in the Spring semester, she cancelled classes with 9 and 10 students in them (some were required for the students to graduate) and then complained that enrollment was down! 

She has also cancelled per student (tutorial classes) since she feels the College loses money on them. When I questioned her as to why she would not allow overages in Summer classes, especially when many of the students we get for the Summer come from other Colleges and this is gravy for the College, her reply is that she does not care about 'visiting students', even though they come from our community.

I just found out Friday that the coordinator of our Freshman Seminar program (one of the best in the state with over 50 sections each semester) wants to re-establish the student mentoring program and have an adjunct direct the student mentors. The response she got from the administration follows:
'There is no provision in the AFT negotiated agreement for adjuncts to be paid for extra positions. For that reason, the position and stipend may not be approved.... Since the new approval process has been in place, other stipend positions have not been approved if they are not recognized by a negotiated agreement or contract.'
So that means adjuncts are not allowed to hold any other positions at the College? Strange since we already had 3 working part-time in the Academic Learning Center and several working part-time in counselling, student services, admissions, and the fitness center. We even had one adjunct with a separate contract to be the part-time Director of the Student Government Association (SGA) while still teaching her adjunct load. 

Fortunately we have in our contract that we can teach non-credit courses over our teaching load, although at a highly reduced rate. They do not have a clue. And when I try to explain to these novices how it has worked during the 25 years I have been at this College they try to tell me that I do not understand the inner workings of academia.

I am the one in the middle being scolded!

Why can't the administration understand that we need to find ways to make ends meet and avoid financial disaster? They are people making 6 figure incomes, with huge expense accounts, who sometimes spend more money on  meetings than adjuncts make for a 3 credit course. Many of us have often offered our knowledge only to be told to mind our own business.

The good news is that we now have organizations like NFM, and advocates like Gary Rhoades with his reports, to help make our issues public. I know my position as an adjunct is considerably different today than decades ago, but we [still] have a long way to go and we need as much support as possible. As long as we continue to allow ourselves to be exploited without trying to make our conditions better we will remain in the downtrodden position we have been forced into.



  1. Great post, Bill. In addition to the related problem of getting enough hours to make it, the post really shows the problems with inexperienced, non-teaching administration in clear examples that anyone can get, even inexperienced administrators...and now I will always think of you whenever I see a penguin...

  2. Thanks Bill. We just have to keep grinding away, I guess, at this entrenched culture of power and presumption- we've got the power so we must know what's best. It doesn't make any sense so I guess we just have to keep saying THAT out loud, and look to the day, I hope sooner and not later, when at least some of them do get it.


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