If you are a contingent faculty member at CUNY, it is important that you publish academic works. Your college or department may not mention that to you, but I will tell you that publishing books, chapters, and professional articles, earned me the opportunity to advance up the professorial ladder and became a full adjunct professor in May, 2016.
I want you to have that same opportunity, so here are suggestions that worked for me:
- Realize that YOU have expertise, whether you see that or not.
- Think about carving out your own niche in the academic world. You may already be doing that as a contingent faculty member.
- Capitalize on your expertise by publishing books, chapters in books, and peer-reviewed articles. Later, present your published work at conferences.
- Check with your department at your college to determine what the professional criteria are for you advancing in your field.
- Are there areas of academic research that you feel are not being explored? Do you have expertise or can you pursue scholarship in that area?
- Think about professors who are willing to collaborate with you; combine resources and expertise. You can collaborate with various professors from different departments on campus or off campus.
- Make it clear that you want to advance your career as a professor and a scholar. Talk to the chair of the department. Find out who is making decisions about advancement. Is it the chair, several committees, and/or the Provost? Get to know all those people professionally.
- Establish publishing deadlines for yourself. We can always find reasons why teaching classes takes up so much of our time, in addition to all our other life duties.
- Realize that if you do not publish academic books, chapters in books, and peer-reviewed articles, you won’t be taken seriously when you want to advance up the ladder as a contingent. Even if you publish, there is no guarantee that you will advance. That is why you need to be clear about your goals with your chair of your department.
- Make sure your work is peer-reivewed. That kind of work gets the most credibility in academia. As Kevin Birmingham described in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The difference between a trade press and an academic press matters. It matters that literary critics almost always work under the auspices of universities. It matters that criticism receives the support of fellowships, grants, and awards.”
- Recognize that you become an even better professor when you publish works in your field since you are contributing to knowledge. Your peers and students need to see your commitment to this level of professional growth. It is important for professors to mentor with other professors in their departments. I collaborated in some cases with other professors on professional journal articles as we prepared to speak at academic conferences. As a result, a colleague offered me an opportunity to write a book with him. The key is to get to know other professors in your department and on campus. In addition, meet with the college grants office. Some grants are only available to full-time professors, but if you dig around, you will find grants available to contingent faculty. One example is the CUNY Academy Adjunct Faculty Travel Awards noted in the October 12th UFS blog post.
- Publishing can be fun! You can feel a great sense of accomplishment when your research is published. You have the power to make the world a better place too with your work.
So, follow the pointers given above, and then contact Professor Jim McElwaine and me at the University Faculty Senate. Tell us about your victories! You can tell us about your barriers too and then we will encourage you to cross that finish line!
CUNY One Faculty is a collaboration of Kimora and James McElwaine, members of the UFS Executive Committee who are Senators elected to represent contingent faculty from John Jay College and Queens College.
Image: OneCUNYfaculty logo by Steven P. Harris,