Earlier this week, we paused during the end-of-semester rush to recognize a key group within our department: our term instructors.
Each academic year, we are fortunate to have 15-20 term instructors who help the department fulfill its mission. Hired on annual or semester contracts with university health benefits and dedicated office space, our term instructors in English may teach only a few courses a year as their schedules allow or a full load of four courses each semester. Some teach in traditional classrooms while some teach online. Others may have assignments in the Writing Center or in administrative roles alongside their classroom teaching. All are crucial to our success.
Our term instructors help us teach courses which are required for graduation by the university (such as ENGL 100 “Expository Writing 1” and ENGL 200 “Expository Writing 2”) and by its colleges (such as ENGL 415 “Written Communication for Engineers” and ENGL 417 “Written Communication for the Workplace”), as well as courses that can fulfill general education requirements, such as ENGL 220 “Fiction into Film.” Term instructors will also step in to cover courses for our majors and minors, like our 400-level courses in Creative Writing, or courses for majors in English Education, like ENGL 355 “Literature for Children” and ENGL 435 “Linguistics for Teachers.”
Along with our Graduate Teaching Assistants and our regularized faculty, our term instructors ensure that K-State students have access to the courses they need to complete their programs of study and earn their degrees. It’s all too easy, though, to take for granted the time and talent that our term instructors contribute toward student success — especially when we are not able to provide the kind of compensation that’s due to all of our instructional team.
If life in higher education can feel precarious these days, given enrollment forecasts and new budget models, term (or adjunct) instructors are at the leading edge of that precarity even as colleges and universities continue to depend on their help.
Our department will keep looking for ways to reduce the precarity faced by term instructors. We’ll also keep looking for ways to recognize their accomplishments and their contributions.
This week, regularized faculty, graduate students, and fellow term instructors celebrated seven term instructors who have been in that role from two years to seventeen years and who have decided to embark on new adventures: law school, a Ph.D., other teaching opportunities, and more.
Our thanks to Niki Bernett (MA ’17) and Jonathan Blake (MA ’17), term instructors since 2017; Zian Butler (MA ’15) and Ian Sinnett (MA ’15), term instructors since 2015; Chris Remple (MA ’14) and Corky Ress (MA ’14), term instructors since 2014; and Carol Russell (MA ’02), term instructor since 2002 and part-time professional advisor since 2017. We are sorry to see them go but send with them our good wishes for success in their new endeavors.
— Karin Westman, Department Head