How Maricopa is Improving Student Success through Comprehensive Support for Adjunct Faculty

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by Lisa Cook and Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

A push to improve student outcomes at Maricopa Community College District in Phoenix, AZ, has included a close look at how Maricopa can support the adjunct faculty who teach those students. Maricopa is one of the nation's largest community college systems, serving more than 260,000 students at ten colleges and two skill centers. About 60 percent of classes are taught by Maricopa's 4,800 part-time adjuncts.

This places a significant priority on ensuring that part-time faculty are fully equipped to help their students succeed.

The Challenge

Like Maricopa, many colleges and universities in the U.S. have a high percentage of courses taught by adjunct faculty. But most offer only limited (if any) orientation, limited (if any) ongoing faculty development for adjuncts, and do little to integrate adjunct faculty effectively with their department's mission, culture, and learning communities. At some institutions, adjunct faculty do not even have a university email account, making it difficult for the institution to communicate with them in a timely and effective way.

Recognizing these gaps -- and their impact on students' academic experiences -- Maricopa has invested in a comprehensive model for adjunct support that includes:

  • A full suite of professional development opportunities for adjunct faculty
  • Partnering with adjuncts to identify areas of need that the institution can address
  • Regular and systematic communication with part-time faculty

To learn more about their approach, we spoke recently with Maricopa Chancellor Rufus Glasper, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Maria Harper-Marinick, Adjunct Faculty Professional Growth District-Wide Coordinator Don Jensen-Bobadilla and past Adjunct Faculty Association President Lysia Hand to learn more.

Here is what they shared with us.

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