Letters to the Editor

Adjuncts and the Job Market

Beth Barton Schweiger, January 1998

To the Editor:

I write regarding "Academic Job Opportunities Better than Expected," which appeared in the October 1997 Perspectives.

I appreciate Perspectives's close watch on the job market. But the AHA's annual Directory of History Departments and Organizations, which provided the statistical basis for this piece, does not provide an accurate count of adjunct and part-time faculty working in history departments. The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that departments rarely list adjunct faculty in official faculty rosters. "Catalogues usually are published far ahead of the time that adjuncts are hired, and the publications generally outlive the part-timers." (Chronicle, November 7, 1997, A14.) Indeed, l have not been able to find an official roster of the department in which I work that includes part-time instructors, although they number more than one quarter of the total faculty, and teach more than half of all students enrolled in the department's American survey sections alone.

The reply to AHA President Joyce Appleby's call for "careful deliberation and concerted action" about sharply rising numbers of part-time instructors ("Of Parcels and Part- Timers," Perspectives, October 1997, 2, 10) must begin with an effort to make these invisible people visible.

—Beth Barton Schweiger
Richmond, Va.