Adjunct professors play vital role on campus, in education


St. Edward’s University has over 200 adjunct faculty members teaching on campus this semester.

The adjunct faculty teach a variety of class that are offered at St. Edward’s, as well as taking other roles and responsibilities that help build a constructive learning environment at the university. 

Some of the adjunct faculty members teach sections of the various Cultural Foundations, CULF, classes and serve as Capstone advisors. Others teach classes like Ethical Analysis, First Year Rhetoric and Composition and Contemporary Biology. 

These required, basic courses usually have more sections than the university has full-time professors to teach them.

The adjunct faculty members help keep the university running efficiently by teaching classes that the contracted faculty members may not be able to take on each semester. 

“We help out a lot where they have holes in the schedule,” said Mary Reilly, who generally teaches within the English Writing and Rhetoric department.

For example, there are upwards of nine sections of Ethical Analysis offered every spring and fall semester, but only five full-time philosophy professors. These full-time professors also need to teach major-specific courses. 

Adjunct professors are there to fill the gaps in each semester’s schedule. Without adjuncts, students would not be able to take the classes that they need in order to graduate on time.

Reilly has been at St. Edward’s since 1996 and has taught many different classes in her time at the university. 

This past fall semester, Reilly taught the ‘60s section of the Freshman Studies lecture class.

Reilly won the 2011-2012 Outstanding Adjunct Professor Award, which is given out annually to adjuncts who do an outstanding job in teaching at the university.

The adjunct faculty also helps out in other areas around campus besides teaching courses; however, they are not obligated to do so.

 “What you don’t have to do [as an adjunct professor] is help out around the university. If you are a contracted professor, one third of your job is administrative work,” said Grant Potts, adjunct professor of religious studies.

That does not mean that adjunct faculty members are not given chances to help out around the university if they wish to do so. 

Potts is in charge of this semester’s Global Understanding workshop.

Reilly works in the Writing Center where she helps students hone their writing skills and refine the papers in various classes. 

Some of the adjunct professors that teach at St. Edward’s also teach at other universities and colleges around the Central Texas area. 

Potts is also a contracted professor at Austin Community College, ACC. 

Potts pointed out was that the majority of the teaching staff at ACC are also adjunct professors. 

“There is a lot more focus on being an adjunct [at ACC],” Potts said.

Many of the adjunct faculty members work on a part-time, semester-to-semester basis. This part-time schedule does not, however, keep adjuncts from making an impact and  forming relationships on campus.

“There’s a real sense … that we are all in this together to produce a quality educational experience for our students,” said Potts about the adjunct faculty members’ relationship with full-time university faculty.

Adjunct professors also have no problem connecting with their students, which is one of the advantages of the small staff-to-student ratio at St. Edward’s the adjuncts help to create.

“It’s a different relationship but with the people we are in contact with,” said Reilly about working with a variety of students every semester. “It’s very tight.”