The coronavirus has thrown the entire higher education industry into uncertainty, but it’s been especially cruel to the thousands of part-time professors undergirding New England’s colleges and universities. The effect has been to widen the gap between the haves and have-nots in higher education: While many tenure-track professors received pandemic-related extensions for their research, many adjuncts simply watched their jobs evaporate. While some professors may teach from home, adjuncts lucky enough to have courses often feel pressure to come to campus — even though their jobs rarely come with health insurance.
“They’re kind of like the Uber drivers,” said Gary Rhoades, who studies higher education at the University of Arizona. “COVID just heightens and surfaces the already existing inequities.”
Despite the stereotypical image of a college professor as a lofty intellectual with a large office and a lifetime appointment, part-time, non-tenure-track professors — adjuncts — have steadily become the majority