Associated Faculty: Full-Time Woes for a “Part Time”Job

Faculty members work just as much as titled “full time professors” but without the benefits

When one thinks about a part time employee, one can’t help but think of the same age old stereotype: that part time employees don’t care as much about their job and simply don’t work as hard as their full-time counterparts. In some circles this may indeed be true, but there is one field where this is not the case: college professors. In fact, let’s clear one thing up right now, do not call these guys “part time professors” because they are not, they are associate faculty members here at Edmonds Community College, although they go by different titles at other places. It is simply unfair and borderline lazy to discredit the amount of work some of these associate professors have put in over the years here at EdCC and I think it is about time they get the recognition that they rightfully deserve.

Firstly let me start by clearing up a few common misconceptions about EdCC associate faculty members. One is that associate faculty members are less educated than their full-time counterparts. This could not be further from the truth, in fact many associate faculty members have advanced degrees.

Another common misconception is that associate faculty members do not teach a full class load, thus making them not full-time professors. The opposite is often the case. Dan Hurley, an associate faculty member, has taught three classes a quarter for years, making him a full-time professor, even though he doesn’t have the title. Full-time professors are also able to get tenure, while associate faculty member are not, even if they have taught at the college for multiple years. Professor Hurley has taught at EdCC since 1996 and is still considered an associate faculty member, although he was recently given the title of senior associate. Nevertheless he still isn’t considered a full-time professor simply due to his title.

Being an associate faculty member does come with its fair share of struggles, the major one being the issue of money. Ruth Harris-Barnett, an associate faculty member who is now a full-time professor at EdCC had this to say: “K-12 teachers often make more than college professors, but I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love my job and I love to teach.” Loving to teach and loving their job is a sentiment that all of the associate faculty members I spoke with had. Hurley also noted, “This is the best job I have ever had.” There is no denying that the majority of associate faculty members enjoy their jobs and if you have had a class or two at the college you can see it in their teachings.

One thing that you may have noticed around campus if you have ever tried to get in contact with a professor and couldn’t find their office, or noticed that some professors are shockingly unavailable at times, is probably because they are associate faculty members and either simply do not have an office, or have to hustle out the door in order to drive and teach at another college just to try and make a living for themselves. This is a pretty big problem for many students around campus who may need extra help with an assignment but cannot get in touch with their professor because they don’t have office hours. This is another problem: associate faculty members don’t get paid for office hours, rendering the decision entirely up to them. And if they aren’t making enough money because they aren’t getting enough classes per quarter, then they may be more likely to either not keep office hours, which hurts the students, or they will be teaching at another college which renders them unavailable, which again hurts the students. Harris-Barnett agrees, “Having to teach at multiple colleges is a huge problem because it takes time driving from college to college. If those professors were made full-time faculty, they would have more time for students and could devote more time here. The more time they could spend here with students the richer the whole campus community will be.”

If having to worry about money isn’t enough for the associate faculty members at EdCC, the additional lack of job security is alarming as well. Associate faculty members often times only learn that they will have a job sometimes only weeks beforehand. “It’s unfair that associate faculty are scheduled quarter to quarter,” says Hurley. No one can argue with him on that one, and believe it or not, even associate faculty members like Mr. Hurley, who have been teaching at schools for multiple years, are not exempt from being scheduled from quarter to quarter.

Although you may find some professors at the college who find it necessary to teach at multiple colleges, or work a second job, the vast majority of them rely solely on their teaching income. “It’s a myth that ‘part-time’ faculty have other jobs or have second jobs,” said Hurley. According to a survey he showed me while I interview him, of the 83 associate faculty members polled, 70 percent said teaching is their main source of income. Given the fact that associate faculty members are only paid to teach classes, and there are a limited number of classes to go around, teaching at multiple colleges is their only option.

When you sit back and think how much one has to love teaching in order to be an associate faculty member given all the things they have to endure and how little credit and respect they often get simply because of the title of “part time professor”, you have to be amazed at the determination and love of teaching the associate faculty members here at EdCC have, and how lucky we are as students to have such dedicated members of the EdCC family. Without associate faculty, a lot of colleges would be short on teachers. Without the professors who teach simply because they genuinely love teaching, people like Dan Hurley and Ruth Harris-Barnett, where would these schools be. So all of us as students should be thankful that these associate faculty members love their jobs and teaching as much as they do. We have all benefited from them and their sacrifices. So if you see an associate faculty member be sure to thank them for their hard work and dedication and maybe this article helped you better understand them a little, maybe it didn’t, just remember, don’t call them “part time professors.”