Adjunct teaching a good starting point
In a sluggish economy, college graduates are facing record-breaking student loans and an 8.1 percent unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree is now looking at around $25,000 in debt, according to the U.S. News & World Report website.
Students who pursue a master’s degree could plan on an additional $30,000 of debt.
A common degree of choice for many BYU-Idaho students is in the field of education.
And despite teacher’s union strikes and debates over educators’ pay, many students at BYU-Idaho remain hopeful about having careers in education.
“Teaching, for me, is a first step,” said Emma Hubbard, a senior studying elementary education.
The university has many educators contributing to the community and university by helping to prepare students to enter the workforce.
About 218 BYU-I faculty members, not including Continuing Education and online professors, are adjunct professors, meaning they do not teach full time.
On average, adjunct professors nationwide are paid considerably less than full-time faculty members .
Additionally, they don’t receive benefits or long-term contracts.
“Adjuncts are often specialists. Jay Hildebrandt, for instance, is the newscaster for ‘Local News 8,’” said Peggy Clements, a faculty employment specialist. “He is really good at what he does. He is doing us a service by coming and teaching because he is a professional.”
Hildebrandt, the senior anchor, teaches communication classes as an adjunct faculty member.
Hildebrandt graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from Brigham Young University in 1977 before going into broadcasting. He has worked in the industry for the past 30 years.
“I felt I had something to contribute, having been in the industry for many years,” Hildebrandt said. “I just felt that I could make some contributions with my hands-on background and with the things I had learned over the years.”
Hildebrandt said he chooses to return as an adjunct faculty to see the students learn and grow and to experience the high-energy environment. “It’s just so rewarding to see how students can start the semester being shaky in front of a camera,” said Hildebrandt. “Using the skills we have practiced, that I have learned on the job, [the students] become so much better.”
Hildebrandt said the transformation from the beginning of the semester to the end is a noticeable one.
“They really look like they are professionals that go into an actual TV station to be a reporter or an anchor.”
Adjuncts can apply for any full-time opening.
“If we have a full-time opening, and they have the degree and the qualifications, they can apply for the full-time opening,” Clements said. “They are at the same standing as anybody else for that job. Even if they already work here, their application will be reviewed just like any other application or person applying for that job.”
Clements explained it is uncommon for an adjunct faculty member to become a full-time professor because they usually only have a master’s degree, not a doctorate.
Tricia Underwood decided to become an online part-time professor at BYU-I when it became difficult for her to balance teaching with raising a family. She teaches sociology classes such as social problems.
“I love being able to stay current in my field, touch the lives of students and further my own knowledge, as I in turn learn from my students and peers,” Underwood said.
Underwood received a master’s degree in sociology and taught in various colleges for more than eight years.
She most recently taught at Salt Lake Community College.