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Part-time profs

While reporting Monday on the number of multiple jobholders in Maryland, I heard from quite a few Marylanders about their busy schedules of multiple employment.

Of the four I had time to interview, three had teaching roles at local colleges.

Make that four of the five, if you include my expert source, Daraius Irani, executive director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University. He’s done the adjunct thing himself and said “I understand the plight.”

Thanks to the existence of tenured positions, there’s not a lot of turnover among professors, said Irani, but the educational system continues to produce PhDs.

More than half of the instructional faculty members at United States degree-granting institutions were part-time in 2011, according to the most recent information from the National Center for Education Statistics. In 1987, the least recent comparable year, that proportion was 34 percent.

Surely, not all adjuncts are in it for the cash — as a former student at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, I had many adjunct professors, most of whom said they took that role as an investment in the next generation of journalists.

Sarah Sachs

Sarah Sachs edits photos at the Sachs Photography studio in Hampden. (The Daily Record Photo/Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore photographer, studio manager and adjunct professor Sarah Sachs said that she will likely hold multiple jobs for the rest of her career, simply because she chose to be an artist.

However, for some, an adjunct position is a compromise. They’d rather have a full-time gig, with the full-time benefits.

Missy Smith, for example, a musician, music teacher and adjunct professor, puts about 15 hours a week into her job with the Community College of Baltimore County, but would like to be a full-time educator. She recently moved out to San Jose, Calif., but still teaches online for CCBC and has remote guitar students in Maryland.

“Everything I do is on a purposed path toward a full-time job,” she said. “For whatever reason, I don’t have full-time employment, and I don’t think it’s because I’m incompetent.”

Smith acknowledged that being an adjunct gives her the flexibility to pursue musical opportunities, as well as outreach projects on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. However, piecing together part-time positions has its downsides too.

“Right now, I don’t know if I’m going to have any classes in February,” she said. “That sucks.”