The 28 departments within Temple’s College of Liberal Arts consist mainly of social sciences like psychology, history and anthropology. For the most part, research in these fields advances on the backs of seasoned, tenured academics who can devote their lives to rigorous study and authorship. Anthropology professors need funding to excavate. History professors need money to write.
As such, it is worrisome that more than half of the college’s professors are part-time adjuncts.
Of course, there are some benefits to learning from adjuncts, who often choose to teach part-time to help bankroll their full-time careers. Many fast-moving professions – like journalism, graphic design or computer science – are best learned from men and women who still have one or both feet in their respective industries.
However, there are often no “industries” to speak of when one delves into the social sciences. Yes, a psychologist may operate a successful practice by day or a bilingual professor may work as an interpreter for the United States Embassy, but there are often no outside “careers” to speak of for historians or sociologists other than those in academia.
At the moment, it is unclear as to why the college operates with so many adjuncts, but it outwardly seems to be a simple matter of cost. Temple pays its adjuncts roughly $2,500 to $4,000 per course, while its tenured professors earned around $120,000 in 2013.
While the number of adjunct professors nation-wide has risen in the last decade, Temple’s administration should still take care to provide a more stable environment for its social science professors, as well as afford a larger percentage of instructors the ability to conduct serious research.
It stands to reason that students will benefit from a more stable learning environment as well.