Letter: Adjuncts appreciated

NW Staff

I wish to correct some factual errors in the story titled “Group formed to help part-time faculty,” as well as the graph that accompanied the story.

First, rather than the 57 part-time faculty reported in your story; there were 54 part-time instructors in the English department last fall semester; there are 46 part-time instructors teaching in English this semester. More significantly, of these instructors for both fall and winter, 36 were teaching assistants last fall (there are 35 this semester), which means the actual number of adjunct faculty in our department for fall was 18, while this semester it is 11.

Teaching assistants, as graduate students, are in an entirely different category with a very different benefits package. The article leaves the impression that there were 57 adjunct faculty in English last fall. The group of part-time faculty the article covers are adjunct faculty, and only adjuncts are quoted in the story.

I would also like to say on record that my full-time colleagues and I have the greatest respect and appreciation for the adjuncts who teach in our department, many for several years. Some of them, in fact, are consistently among the highest-rated English faculty on student and peer course evaluations, and several of them have generously volunteered to serve on committees even though doing so is neither required nor expected. Our dedicated adjuncts are very important contributors to our department, and we hold them in very high esteem. They are colleagues, and we do everything we can to treat them as colleagues.

James Schiffer
Professor and Head
Department of English

In reporting last week’s story, The North Wind relied on data obtained from NMU’s Office of Institutional Research; those numbers include teaching assistants among part-time faculty. As Dr. Schiffer notes, teaching assistants, while part-time, are distinct from the contingent faculty featured in last week’s article. The paper regrets any confusion.

– Editor