Adjunct faculty in one of Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts departments face an uncertain future after being warned “significantly fewer” will be hired in Spring 2021 compared to the fall semester.
Adjunct instructors in the university’s Intellectual Heritage department received an email from Dustin Kidd, the department’s director, on Saturday afternoon sharing the “difficult news” and advising them to explore job opportunities elsewhere.
“I expect that several of the current adjunct faculty will not be hired for the spring,” Kidd wrote in the email, obtained by The Temple News on Tuesday. “We don’t know the exact number yet as there are more variables that will be clarified in the coming weeks.”
Kidd declined to comment on the email. A spokesperson for the College of Liberal Arts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
All undergraduate students at Temple are required to graduate with two classes of Intellectual Heritage, formerly known as Mosaics, a general education course focused on literature that has “shaped the ways people think and act,” according to the university’s bulletin.
Temple needs to have students register for spring classes before knowing how many course sections will be offered, so it is too early to say how many adjuncts will be needed for the spring, wrote Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News. Priority registration begins on Nov. 2.
The news comes amid a year of financial setbacks for the university due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anticipating a decline in enrollment and state funding, Temple projected a $45 million loss in the spring, factoring in the cost of refunding students the cost of housing, meal plans and parking passes, The Temple News reported. The university again refunded more than 2,000 students who left campus after classes moved online this semester.
Adjuncts who are not hired next semester may be hired again in future semesters, Kidd wrote in the email.
“For now, we are focused on the immediate budget and enrollment crisis of the college and university,” he wrote.
Dan Touey, an adjunct instructor who has taught Intellectual Heritage for approximately 15 years, said he is unsure why the department made its decision, but is not surprised given the financial situation at universities nationwide.
“Every school is in crisis right now,” Touey said.
Whether he is teaching the next semester is never a certainty, Touey said, recalling an instance when he showed up to the first day of class and learned it was being taught by another professor. But adjunct instructors, who work on a semester-to-semester basis, typically have “a pretty firm idea” of their course schedule a few weeks before classes begin, he said.
The Intellectual Heritage department will post its spring schedule with full-time faculty assignments within weeks and then make assignments for part-time faculty on a rolling basis, Kidd wrote in the email.
Debi Lemieur, who has taught as an adjunct in the department since 2009, said she worries about how the decision will affect faculty who are “already living on the edge.”
“This will cause a lot of upset in their lives. It can be devastating to lose your job,” Lemieur said. “For any adjunct, during this time of pandemic, to find a job elsewhere, is impractical.”
Temple’s directory lists 66 professors and instructors who work in the department in total.