While students are getting ready to register for classes, some part-time faculty members are waiting to find out if they’ll even have a class to teach.
For the past few years the College of Liberal Arts has been attempting to hire more full-time faculty members, CLA Dean James Parente Jr. said.
Over the past 10 years CLA has added more than 100 faculty members and last year it added 45 faculty members.
Parente said regular faculty members can do research that goes along with the University’s goal of being one of the top three research colleges in the country.
The move to hire more regular faculty goes against the grain of national trends.
According to a study by the American Association of University Professors, over the last 30 years the number of part-time faculty has gone up by nearly 20 percent. In 2005 almost half of all college faculty members were part-time professors.
Regular faculty members can also become a part of the student community Parente said.
“(Regular faculty) can build long-standing relationships with students and involve them in their research projects,” Parente said.
An increase in regular faculty members means that professors who usually teach only one class per semester could find themselves being pushed out of the classroom.
Regular professors usually teach four classes a year, and it’s possible for a regular professor to take over classes from part-time professors.
“Departments in the past may have relied on outside personnel,” Parente said. “But when you hire new faculty you need to re-evaluate and ask if you still have the same needs.”
Parente also said that from a business perspective, the move to hire more regular faculty makes sense. It’s less expensive for one professor to teach four classes than it is to have four professors teach one class, Parente said.
Richard Currie Smith is the president of Living Web Consulting – an organization that helps individuals think in a more ecological way. Smith, who has been working in the ecological anthropology field for 25 years, said he wants to teach an ecological anthropology course this upcoming semester at the University.
The course is already being taught by a full-time professor at the University, but Smith said he wants his class to appeal to a broader range of students outside of the anthropology majors.
Smith said he wants to teach students to think about things in a “big picture” sort of way that modern western culture doesn’t always promote.
Smith said his experiences in the real world will help him in front of the classroom.
“We’re looking at a system that’s greater than ourselves,” Smith said. “Laboratory experiments don’t necessarily work the same way life works.”
Bill Beeman, head of the University anthropology department, said because many part-time professors actively work in their fields, they can bring valuable outside experience.
“(Part-time professors) are sometimes very important for specific kinds of courses that we don’t need a whole faculty appointment for,” Beeman said.
Beeman said in the anthropology department, CLA is trying to be thrifty.
“They want to make sure that they don’t lose money on these courses,” Beeman said. “They would lose money when courses don’t make their enrollments.”
The CLA has a long-standing policy that classes are canceled if they don’t meet certain enrollment requirements. One thousand level courses need a minimum of 15 students and 3000 level courses need a minimum of 10 students.
Smith said he doesn’t think he’ll have a problem meeting this requirement.
“For me, I just thought that was a bureaucratic thing,” Smith said. “I think I’ll be able to attract a lot of students to this class.”