OCCC students are more likely to be taught by part-time professors than full-time professors, statistics show.
A recent analysis has shown there are 143 full-time faculty at OCCC and 533 adjunct, or part-time, faculty.
Of those numbers, full-time faculty teach 31 percent of sections, whereas adjunct faculty teach 69 percent. When looking at how many enrolled students are taught, 45 percent of students are taught by full-time faculty and 55 percent are taught by adjunct faculty, according to Planning and Research Executive Director Stu Harvey.
Academic Affairs Vice President Felix Aquino said OCCC strives for a 50-50 ratio but said that isn’t always possible.
Aquino said the economy is the reason for the current imbalance. He said OCCC’s state aid has not increased since the recession.
“ … One of the things in community colleges is that [the recession is] kind of like a contrary indicator.
“When times are bad, when unemployment goes up, people come to us to go to school,” Aquino said. “Therefore we need more faculty. Therefore we hire more adjuncts. Since we can’t hire any more full-time faculty, we hire more adjuncts.”
Aquino said the number of adjuncts hired is based on the amount of funding OCCC receives from the state and what the college’s current needs are.
“That’s our decision based on our [overall] funding and based on our needs.”
He said OCCC receives a fixed amount from the state and that amount, added to the tuition received from students, is what goes toward adjunct professors’ pay.
Aquino said, at $670 per credit hour, OCCC pays adjunct professors more than any other community college in the area.
“We also provide the best working conditions for them,” he said.
That is important according to an article that appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Findings from an online survey of 500 adjunct faculty members conducted last fall by the New Faculty Majority Foundation showed that many colleges make two big mistakes when hiring part-time professors that possibly set students up for failure — hiring those teachers at the last minute and then not providing them the necessary supplies to teach effectively.
Aquino said OCCC makes sure part-time professors have their needs met.
“Every division has a workspace for adjuncts,” he said. “We extend professional development opportunities to adjuncts ….
“We have an adjunct advisory committee. We really go out of our way because adjuncts are so important.
“We could not do what we do for all of the students that we serve without adjuncts and we know that. We try to be as proactive as possible in meeting their needs.”
Adjunct professors say they appreciate OCCC’s support.
Michelle Cole, Anatomy and Physiology II and Online Medical Terminology adjunct professor, has been with the college since 2009.
“I think we’re treated really well,” Cole said. “I have had a good experience here.
“It’s really easy to get plugged in, (and) everyone is super friendly and helpful.
“The full-time instructors are really good at making sure that we, as adjuncts, get the flow of things and have access to everything we need to have access to.”
Teresa Kuhlman is an adjunct professor who teaches College Writing and Success in College and Life.
She has taught at OCCC for two years and also teaches at other two-year institutions around the city.
“It’s wonderful here,” she said. “This is my favorite place to teach. I started here first, so I guess I have a soft spot.
“I’ve always been very impressed with the way OCCC makes adjuncts feel like part of the team,” Kuhlman said.
“Even the simple things like the way they feed us at the welcome dinners every semester lets us know we really are a part of the team and we have a lot of support.”
Students have mixed feelings about adjunct professors.
Taryn Johnson, pre-baccalaureate nursing major, said she has had some issues with adjunct professors.
“When they say they have office hours and you go to see them, they’re not there,” she said. “Since they don’t write the curriculum, they always seem to be surprised of what’s next to teach.”
Angel Icenhour, diversified studies major, said she prefers full-time professors because “they seem to care more.”
Grant Di Rienzo, psychology major, praises adjunct teachers. “[Part-time professors] are way more helpful than the full time faculty.”
Nathan Ashley, film and video production major, said adjunct professors are more interesting. “I think they give a lot more information than the full-time professors I’ve had.”
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