The Homeless Adjunct

A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, “In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, ‘History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level.”

In the last few years, conversations have been growing like gathering storm clouds about the ways in which our universities are failing. There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in…

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The Circle of My Life: CCSNH Adjunct Faculty Recounts Life Without Healthcare

In 2001, while working as a college administrator at a premier college in Boston I applied for a promotional position as Vice President of Students. In a feedback meeting I learned I had all the criteria they desired, but an internal candidate possessed an advantage I did not: a terminal degree.  So, I made a decision.

I left my position deciding to eliminate that one major deficit, but needed a way to sustain my quest for higher education. I decided to teach part-time for the Community College System of New Hampshire.

12 years later, as an adjunct professor, I am still chasing that proverbial dog’s tail. I move from college to college, looking for a really good ‘fit’ and a steady paycheck.  As a result of vying for my degree and working as an adjunct, I came to forget about many of life’s little luxuries (even some necessities) lost on the way to obtaining my degree.  Take for example, health insurance.

In 2005, I had an accident and was unable to work (or study) for almost a year. I’ve contracted pneumonia twice, torn a meniscus in my left knee, cracked a few ribs and blew out my other knee. You might have seen me round the campus pulling myself along on two canes, praying my chairperson or vice president wouldn’t think of me as too old or too infirmed to teach.

My living expenses piled up, my medical bills got out of hand, tuition costs increased and my credit went down the tubes.  I could not pay for insurance, courses, and books, and still cover my living expenses on an adjunct’s salary.  As an adjunct professor in New Hampshire’s Community College System, you feel that you are always still in a transition period.  Adjunct professors in the Community College System of New Hampshire need a contract that addresses wages, healthcare, and job security. Without a contract, adjuncts in the future will suffer through the experience. The themes are interconnected, and rightfully, they do more than point out issues of dollars and cents.

SO, I could not finish my doctorate because I didn’t  have the money. I don’t have the money because I could not get a full time job. I cannot get the job because the colleges are eliminating full-time positions and benefits which require all applicants possess terminal degrees. I still can’t pay for insurance to keep myself healthy, and I can’t pay the medical bills that have accumulated because I don’t have the insurance.

“I’m not looking for all of it, at least not in one place,

but I really would like it with a little less egg on my face.”

Does this sound like something Dr. Seuss wrote? Yeah? Well, it feels like it too. It’s entitled “The Circle of My Life.”

Lynn M. King, A.B.D., Adjunct Faculty at MCC