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A Single Standard of Excellence

by Edwin G. Sapp, Adjunct Faculty Liaison, Instruction Office

Some years ago I was recalled to active duty with the Air Force.  My new job was on the Air Staff at the Pentagon.  There I was tasked with integrating Reserve forces into the active duty elements of Air Force Intelligence –– worldwide.

That was an interesting challenge.  Nobody at the Air Staff knew how many Reservists there were and no one really cared.  The peacetime force hired reservists to fill war-time expansion needs.  They were issued older equipment, given the less desirable assignments, and generally mistrusted: how could a "weekend warrior" who spent two days a month doing military things be the same as a full-time professional?

I did some digging and discovered that fully 25 percent of Air Force Intelligence personnel were Reservists and Air Guard folks, all of whom brought military expertise to their duties and, in addition, added diverse civilian experience that the active force couldn’t get elsewhere.  The Reserve forces were managed in five separate programs with no overall coordination.  This structure created redundancies, miscommunication, and a fairly low morale.  Often the active force had mission-critical tasks that the Reserve could have performed, but the "right" people didn’t know they were available.

By the end of my tour of duty four years later we had one force, with all the Reserve and Guard managed by one active duty component and able to pursue genuine career development.  The active force developed a professional respect for the part-timers and gave them work that made them part of a single team.  Reserve training was correlated with active professional development as well.  This far-reaching change occurred under a time of rapidly shrinking budgets and increased readiness.

A few years have gone by, and now I have been asked to work with the leadership of this college to integrate adjunct faculty into becoming a more cohesive part of the learning-centered institution.  My first question was "How many adjuncts do we have?"  No one knew.

"What do they bring from the community and from their professional backgrounds?"  We have no way of knowing.  "How does the college communicate with and manage this part of the team?"  On the credit side, management is provided by 27 different departments with seven different program managers who do not coordinate policies via a centralized authority.  If an adjunct is asked to attend a seminar, the adjunct will lose pay for any classes missed – there is no professional development leave for adjuncts.  Only half the departments give their adjuncts handbooks or training on sexual harassment or the Family Rights and Privacy Act.  Faculty development activities and support functions are available during the day – not at night when the adjuncts are available.  Often the adjuncts have the "old" computers and must share office space with large numbers of other adjunct faculty.

At Prince George’s Community College, adjuncts provide a great deal of the instruction our students receive.  How do we assure that they are part of the vision and the five-year plan that each department is pursuing, or that they are being developed in their role as learning facilitators through the same Five-I (Individual, Institutional, Instructional, Intellectual, and Integration) approach to their professional development that full-time faculty are provided?

As the saying goes, this looks like déjŕ vu all over again – but I don’t think we have four years this time.

You can e-mail me on GroupWise with any thoughts you care to share.


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 18, No. 2

Spring 2003