Mar 2 2015
Several faculty correspondents have written in and expressed a misunderstanding of a remark that I made in a recent post about the use of adjuct professros for teaching at the College. On February 24th I noted:
For some historical background, back in my day all of the College's professors taught five courses each year; today professors in the Sciences teach only three courses, and profs in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses. In theory, the faculty produces more research; in actuality, students have less contact with tenure-worthy professors.
I was not opining that faculty teaching loads should be returned to previous levels. If other schools have reduced the requirement for teaching, it would be competitive suicide for the College to move in the opposite direction. Our ability to hire the top people would be immediately harmed. However, when the administration and faculty chose to cut teaching by humanists and social scientists by 20% and by scientists by 25%, they created a concomitant obligation to increase the size of the tenure-track faculty -- rather than either reduce the number of offered courses or increase the number of adjunct professors. After all, nobody suggested that tuition be cut when the quality of courses offered to students was diminished. If that obligation were not met -- and it was not -- then the quality of teaching at Dartmouth diminished.
One other note on adjuncts: as a rule they do not attend department meetings nor serve on departmental or College committees, nor do they usually do research. And not holding the protections of tenure, they are, theoretically at least, limited in voicing unpopular opinions.
The above is not to say that there are not fine teachers and human beings among the adjunct faculty (though there are lousy teachers and shallow radical in the cohort, too), but the College could distinguish itself by increasing the quality of its faculty if it departed from the modern trend of an ever greater number of adjuncts in its ranks.