DTH: What is the situation for adjuncts nationwide now?
JD: A lot of schools around the country, with the budgets being cut, are seeing that the more courses you can get taught by people you don’t have to give benefits to, the better your financial situation.
There are people who have Ph.D.s who would like to be full-time faculty, but all they can find are these rotating, itinerant positions — teach a course at Elon, teach a course at Carolina ... They’re cobbling together these courses, none of which have benefits.
DTH: Who is working for adjunct benefits at UNC?
JD: When Holden Thorp was our chancellor, he had a priority of making those mainly teaching, lecturer positions attractive career positions — in other words, don’t hire people one course at a time, two courses at a time, with no benefits.
(UNC’s) Fixed-Term Faculty Committee ... has fought hard for benefits of all sorts — titles, benefits, mailboxes, parking passes and so forth.
DTH: How would this bill help adjunct faculty?
JD: If anybody high up, like the federal government, says, “You have to report to us what faculty you’re hiring who are not full-time faculty, and what benefits and all that they have,” that’s a good thing.
It keeps a department from hiring somebody year after year on one-year contracts without the world knowing it.
DTH: So are adjunct rights a problem at UNC?
JD: Our take has been, on this campus, most discrimination against these types of faculty has been benign rather than malevolent.
In an administrative unit, it won’t occur to them that fixed-term faculty aren’t getting computers, when all the rest of the faculty are. They just overlooked it.
Then one of us says, “Wait, wait, this isn’t fair. Why aren’t fixed-term faculty getting computers?” The administrators say, “Oh, we hadn’t even noticed that that was happening. Let us fix it.”
DTH: Anything you’re particularly proud of?
JD: In Arts and Sciences, (fixed-term faculty) have never had a professor title. But just last month the (UNC-system) Board of Governors approved the title of “teaching professor” for faculty on this campus who are not on the tenure track but whose jobs are mostly teaching .
I am technically now a teaching professor. I went from being a master lecturer, which is a tacky, awful name. For me ... it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.