I am part-time adjunct faculty at a large institution where we are not invited to participate in most departmental events (meetings, reviews, lunches, etc.). Each year, there is at least one full-time position open and I WANT ONE!

Each semester, I seem to get several emails from students thanking me or letting me know how much they've enjoyed my classes. Additionally, this semester, I mentored 3 students to successful job placements; I teach business communications - resumes and interviewing (guess what method I teach!). 

How can I best keep my chair informed of this kind of activity to improve my chances of being considered for a full-time position? Forwarding the emails seems crass.....any thoughts?

Thank you so much!

tlhausmann's picture
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I'm confident that qualitative statements you indicate in your post are reflected in the end of term student evaluations of your teaching. Good department heads are keeping tabs on adjunct faculty performance because student retention is, increasingly, coveted by nearly *all* higher education institutions. (Higher-ed funding for public institutions has waned. Accountability and transparency is sought by many outside higher-ed.)

You do not indicate in your note whether you have an office. If you have an office then make sure you are available during your set office hours, and beyond, for drop-in traffic to assist those students requiring additional resume, interview, and job search tips. I encourage checking-in periodically (and informally) with the Career/Placement office on campus to refer a student and/or exchange ideas. Have you considered engaging the experts in the Career/Placement office to offer a guest lecture?

The payoff will not be immediate. It will take hard work, patience and persistence to continue delivering quality instruction and *results* for your students. Unfortunately, you may not get a tenure line slot at your current institution *but* you will have a proven record and quality recommendations for a permanent post at another school. You just don't know when.

Contact me off-line if you wish to explore the topic more deeply.

ilkhan's picture


I am also an adjunct professor (although not looking to go full time).  It seems to me that you have a heck of an advantage because your foot is already in the door.  Maybe I'm being a little naive here but have you sat down with your department chair and talked about the situation?  A short conversation wherein you tell the chair that you really enjoy what you do and you would like to transition into full time teaching might be fruitful.  Then ask, how am I doing?  The students seem to enjoy class and give me good reviews, is there anything I can/need to do better?  If I want to become full time, what do I need to do (or improve upon)?  

Depending upon the institution, you may need to think about publishing.  With your particular specialty I'd talk to career services and volunteer to help people with interview prep or whatever the needs are in your area.  While I'm spit-balling here, my school has a part-time/adjunct teacher of the year.  You might try to win that and even if you don't, you may still have some positive benefits.  

Stop by the offices of other folks in the department and make small talk for 2-3 minutes.  I'd also talk shop with folks in your department, in my experience, practitioners are probably going to be more up to date on current events in the field than they are.  Email with them every once in a while.  "Hey, this issue came up in class the other day, how have you handled that in the past?"  I think I'd also keep my eyes open for a functionally similar position in a different department.    (Not sure if you are in the English department for communication or Business dept. or even psychology/sociology)

I would also look at the last several people they hired and see if there is any common themes.  If they're looking for a specific degree or specific characteristics and you don't have it, you might have an issue.  

Make sure you comply with school requirements as far as syllabus requirements, turning grades in on time, turning in attendance reports for financial aid, turning in mandated paperwork etc.  If you don't do it now, the chair has no reason to believe you'll do it as a full time teacher.  

My final thought is that I tend to send a quick email thanking the department head at the end of each semester for another great semester and I look forward to next, etc.  


I'm sure you've already thought of all of this but hope it helps.  



tmliz's picture

Thanks for the advice! I really appreciate it.

I started in the corporate world and am now trying to move into academia, which appears to be an indirect path. I need to get my PhD, but first must pull up my GMAT score. It's possible to get a full-time instructor position at my school with just the master's, but not a professorship. 

I do not have an office. I have volunteered to help with our Toastmaster's club and with a revamping of our published resume template. I'll reach out to Career and Employment services, but they kind of do their own thing. We're a LARGE school (26,000+), so anything I do with them won't necessarily get back to my boss. (I know that's not the right attitude)

Great idea on the email to my dept. head each semester. I was just thinking of asking him to coffee or lunch now that the semester is over. I've officially been there a year, so I was hoping to do kind of an informal review?

Thank you so much! 

tmliz's picture

Just re-read above comments....not sure if it matters, but I'm in the business department. I'm considering applying to teach in the Communications department, as well. 

pucciot's picture
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Toot your horn where they can hear it - What makes you look good also makes them look good.

In addition to all the good advice above....

  • Make sure that you attend any event that you can.  There may also be publicly available events such as guest lectures and university rallies.  Anywhere where you may think other faculty in your department will show up.
  •  Also, It may not hurt if you actually express to your Dean your interest in attending various events.  They be happy to include you.

When you are there try to get some face time with the dean and every faculty member that shows up.

Build the relationship with them.

  • And, be sure to send your professional accomplishments to the departmental newsletter.  eg. your publications, participation in professional associations, and participation in conferences.

The newsletter folks are usually very hunger for stories to fill up their pages.  As an adjunct you still rate as newsworthy.  Anything that makes you look good professionally will make the department look good by association.

That's how you get noticed in academia.

T.  Puccio