SIU to recruit alumni for ‘volunteer’ adjunct positions

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University Carbondale is seeking volunteers with graduate degrees to serve as adjunct faculty.

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno posted a statement Tuesday indicating the university is developing the pilot project with the SIU Alumni Association. Approved alumni wouldn’t teach entire courses, but may deliver an individual lecture, lead a seminar discussion, mentor students or contribute to thesis committees for up to three years after approval.

The announcement has been met with criticism that the university is trying to replace faculty and adjuncts with unpaid labor.

The statement said alumni participants would “enhance” but not replace faculty responsibilities, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

“The use of adjuncts is not unusual on our campus and in higher education generally,” the statement said. “This exploratory project simply fosters the ability of academic programs to identify and connect with potential adjunct faculty already invested in the university. It benefits current faculty, students and alumni.”

There must be a certain number of faculty on thesis committees, said Dave Johnson, president of the SIUC Faculty Association, the union representing tenure-track and tenured faculty at the university. The university could be trying to outsource those roles as faculty numbers decline, he said.

“It may well come with perfectly good intentions from alumni who want to help out, and from leaders of the Alumni Association who are trying to do what they can to give something back to the institution,” Johnson said.

The union is consulting with lawyers to determine if the program would violate the faculty contract, Johnson said.

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