After a few phone interviews and a few campus visits, I am having to consider some offers for adjunct AY 15. What are the ethics of this? I obviously don't want to make commitments I can't keep, but I also need to make a living. If I am offered a TT or FT position, I have to take it. What are your thoughts in terms of keeping all the plates spinning?
Date: 06 Apr 2015 22:49
Number of posts: 6
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In my view, if you sign a contract then it's unethical to take other offers. I am sure people can justify violating a contract but it's unethical.
When I was on the market and things weren't going so well, I set up an adjunct position. I met with the chair at the university and had things relatively in place for the next semester. Then, two post-docs became available suddenly, and I had to back out. They were obviously upset (more because they had to re-staff the position rather than because they lost "me"), but they moved on to find someone else and I moved on to the post-doc. Later in the semester, when I was post-docing, they actually emailed to see if I knew someone who could fill in for the following semester, so I sent names.
They'll be upset, but they'll then move on. Reality suggests they don't care too terribly much about adjuncts; they are just there to fill the spots teaching. Once that is filled, the chair moves on to something else.
Take the best job you are offered regardless of what other commitments you have made. They'll find replacement adjuncts. And if they don't well then maybe they should consider hiring permanent staff to avoid this problem in the future.
It sucks but I think it's ok and even expected to accept adjunct positions and then back out of them. I'd never say this about a tt posting.
I actually told the university that wanted to hire me as an adjunct that I still had a handful of TT applications still out there, and that there was a chance that I'd need to back out. We had a verbal agreement and they even had assigned classes to me, but I never signed anything on paper for the adjunct position. I ended up backing out about a month later as I was offered a great VAP position that had more promise for "keeping me in the game", and they were super understanding about it. I would just be honest if you still have other applications out there!