The classroom is where your school’s mission is or is not accomplished. Do adjunct faculty members teach a substantial number of classes at your school? If so, you will not fully accomplish your school’s mission without helping them feel that they are a valuable addition to your school’s team, values, and mission. Here are five ways to do that:
1. Develop a Personal Connection
There may be various reasons someone teaches at a college part-time, but seldom is money the motivation. So, a personal touch of appreciation is a simple way to say thanks as an organization for their service, while also communicating to them that they are valued.
One way to show this appreciation is for the president, academic dean, department chair, or some leader in the college to take the adjunct faculty for a meal as they hand them their paycheck.
These personal meetings can also provide the institution with “external” eyes on some of the challenges the adjunct faces and, perhaps, even suggest solutions. Because the adjunct faculty member has invested time and energy in the school and has some sense of the ethos, these viewpoints are better than most outsider input.
This personal connection doesn’t need to stop with a meal. Administrators can go at least one step further and ask adjunct faculty for more.
2. Ask for More
There are likely more ways administrators could benefit from the expertise and experience of the adjunct teacher, if they would simply ask.
For example, if experienced community pastors have been teaching as adjunct faculty, you could ask them to speak in chapel. Yes, they have plenty of messages to prepare in a year, but they might relish the opportunity to speak to a college audience on a specific topic, if asked.
What if you ask the accomplished accountant who has taught a couple courses each year in your business program to join your board of directors before the current treasurer’s term comes to an end?
Whether you ask for a one-time extra task or a longer term responsibility, adjunct faculty have already shown they are eager to see your school succeed, and may be able to contribute further to the cause if you simply ask.
3. Share Fringe Benefits
Sharing some of the same fringe benefits with your adjunct faculty as you offer full-time employees can give a tremendous boost to their sense of belonging and value. Here are a few benefits to consider offering them:
- Staff ID cards that are useful for discounts at various restaurants and shops
- A free ticket for them (and their spouse if applicable) to the Christmas Banquet, like other faculty receive
- An invitation to the end of the school year barbecue
- Post-secondary tuition discounts for their child(ren) after they have served five years (or whatever term is agreed upon) at your school
Usually, these fringe benefits cost little, if anything, but they loudly communicate to the adjunct faculty member, “We value you as part of our team.”
4. Create an All-Inclusive Communication Policy
A communication policy that includes adjunct faculty is a powerful way to help them feel that they are a valuable part of your school’s team. At a minimum, send adjunct faculty the same communication that all faculty receive regarding campus-wide actions, events, emergency situations, and faculty gatherings. As a side benefit, your part-time instructors just might have expertise in the topic of the communication, and their feedback or input about it can be valuable for the institution.
Don’t be shy to hold adjunct faculty to the same standards as full-time faculty. Whether in doctrinal statement affirmations or lifestyle / code-of-conduct standards, make sure full-time faculty know the part-time faculty sign the same documents regarding expectations. They do not “get off easy” simply because they are not permanent employees.
5. Give Helpful and Consistent Feedback
While serving recently as an adjunct faculty member, one of the most significant signs of the college’s commitment to me and my students’ education was when the academic dean personally evaluated one of my classes. I valued his comments about what went well and a couple helpful observations for what I needed to adjust in the final weeks of the course. His feedback helped me improve my teaching, immediately and permanently.
In the end, whether adjunct faculty only teach for a year or five years, when they are treated with value and administrators show they care, it makes it easier when, for whatever reasons, you cannot renew their part-time contract.
While it may be disappointing for both parties to not continue serving one another, both the faculty member and the college have benefitted from the relationship and probably will into the future as unofficial partners in serving Christ’s Kingdom.