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Adjuncts in Academia

Brett Jordan
Creative Commons

Imagine a day without adjunct faculty. Many colleges and universities would effectively shut down.  Somewhere between70-75% of the academic workforce in higher education is not tenured or on track for tenure. Most of those people fall into the category of adjunct. 

That doesn't mean that tenured professors have lost their jobs. It just means that colleges have added part-time workers to handle the increasing number of students entering academia, creating a two-tier system that sharply rewards one over the other. 

Adjuncts make far less than their tenured colleagues, rarely receive health or retirement benefits, lack job security, don't participate in governance, and have little time to pursue their own research after shuttling between stints teaching courses at different colleges. 

So, we have a weird situation in which the largest chunk of the workforce is living in a twilight world. Most of the people teaching in college don't fit your image of a professor's life. So, who are they and how do they get by?

 Today, we talk to four of them and judging from the social media activity, we're going to get a lot of calls.

Leave your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.


  • Joshua Boldt founded The Adjunct Project, a crowdsourcing project collecting national data on the working conditions of adjunct professors
  • Jeff Bayliss is an associate professor of History and Director of Asian Studies at Trinity College
  • Barry Schaller is an adjunct professor in Public Policy and Law at Trinity College and a retired Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
  • John Mueller is an adjunct professor in the History department at Central Connecticut State University
  • Kim Dorfman is an adjunct professor in the English department at Central Connecticut State University

Colin McEnroe is a radio host, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, author, playwright, lecturer, moderator, college instructor and occasional singer. Colin can be reached at colin@ctpublic.org.
Chion Wolf is the host of Audacious with Chion Wolf on Connecticut Public, featuring conversations with people who have uncommon or misunderstood experiences, conditions, or professions.
Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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