Adjuncts saluted at awards dinner
When Dr. Christie Rodgers began teaching remedial reading as an adjunct at Southwest last fall, there were times when she felt lost or had questions about how things worked at the College. But no matter what the issue, she could always count on getting her questions answered, advice, or help from her mentor, English instructor Melissa Reyna in the Languages and Literature Department. She says having a mentor eased her transition at Southwest and made her feel both welcomed and appreciated.
Coming in to a new school or organization or a new job can be incredibly exciting, Rodgers said.
But it can also be stressful because you just don’t know the culture yet and who you can depend on. But what I found at Southwest is that no matter who you are or what you do for the college, everybody goes above and beyond expectations to help you.
Associate Dean of Faculty Support Ashley Geisewite, who serves as the point of contact for adjunct faculty, says adjuncts play a vital role at Southwest. About half of all college faculty nationwide are adjuncts and Geisewhite said Southwest is no exception.
Adjuncts are such a vital part of our student success, Geisewite said.
Geisewite says Southwest is really making an effort to reach out to adjuncts to let them know just how important they are to the mission of Southwest, and to make sure they have the support necessary to ensure student success.
They are essential. We can’t do what we do without them, Geisewhite said.
To demonstrate the College’s appreciation for the work adjunct faculty perform throughout the year, Southwest held an adjunct appreciation dinner May 6 in the Farris ABC Building where about 100 people enjoyed music courtesy of The Underground band and scrumptious food.
President Tracy D. Hall shared the many successes Southwest has achieved in the last year as a result of their contributions and each dean handed out awards recognizing outstanding adjunct service. Among those receiving awards were Shirley Jack (Business & Legal Studies), Steve Browning (Technologies), Susan Angel (Natural Sciences), Deborah Frazier (Communications, Graphic & Fine Arts), Janet Rosenthal (Languages and Literature), Ibrahima Diallo (Math) and Saundra Thompson (Social & Behavioral Sciences). The Outstanding Adjunct Faculty of the Year was presented in absentia to Derek Gardner in Allied Health Sciences.
It’s our way of thanking them for the role they play here at Southwest, Special Assistant to Vice President of Academic Administrative Services Sindy Abadie said.
They are such an important part of what we do.
Teaching Academy Director Dr. Jennifer Townes said Southwest is making a greater effort to offer more support to adjuncts. She says in the past, adjuncts were often just left on their own and didn’t feel they were a part of the Southwest community.
I know that as an adjunct they can feel isolated because most of them come here and teach and leave, Townes said.
So they don’t have a sense of belonging. We want to change that. That’s one of the reasons why we have this event to let them know they are part of a community. Southwest has about 600 full time adjuncts, with about 300 to 400 teaching in any given semester.
Townes said her number one goal is to do a better job acclimating adjuncts to Southwest by providing training on expectations, institutional policies and reporting, grading, available digital tools to support student learning, teaching engagement and learning processes, and how to increase student success. She says also having someone available to answer questions is key.
A lot of times they are baptized by fire, Townes said.
So they need someone to help them along the way. We have made a person available one evening and one weekend a month so that if they have questions they can come in and speak with us.
She added that Southwest adjuncts are committed to the students and often attend professional development sessions with no expectation of being compensated, but rather with an expectation to learn. In fact, she says, adjunct participation at training sessions has increased by 75 percent.
Our adjuncts are outstanding and we love them because they love our students, Townes said.
Rodgers said Rayna has been the best mentor and resource a new adjunct could ever have.
I just felt incredibly supported, especially this past fall, Rodgers said.
The encouragement she provides, coupled with her obvious passion for our Southwest students, is commendable. If I had a question she would immediately e-mail me back. And she would check up on me randomly. I felt blessed to know that I have such an outstanding professional who is always willing to help me become a better educator for our students. You don’t get that very often.