For many adjuncts, full-time job also fills time

Part-time adjunct professors teach just under half of the classes at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Many of these professors teach one or two classes per week while still carrying on a full-time job elsewhere.

 In order to hold down both jobs, they have to balance their time carefully.

Kathryn Ribant Payne is the director of marketing and communications for Oakland Family Services. 

On top of that, she teaches a public relations course at UDM on Monday nights and still has to find time to take care of her two sons at home. 

“A typical Monday begins for me at 6:30 in the morning when I get up and get my kids ready for school,” Payne said. “I drive an hour to Pontiac, where I work from 8:45 straight through until 4:45, when I drive straight down to Detroit where I prepare for class.”

Payne said that she usually has to eat breakfast and dinner in her car so that she is able to spend as much time with her kids in the morning as possible and also spend as much time before class as she can to prepare and offer office hours to her students.

Another challenge these professors face is their position within the university, as they only hold a part-time position, rather than a full-time one. 

Mikhail Youdin is an economic advisor who also teaches an economics class at UDM. 

“It becomes difficult, sometimes, to prepare properly for class,” Youdin said. “Mainly this takes away from family time. But one of the biggest challenges is my lack of voice within the college as an adjunct.” 

Youdin said that even though he is only a part-time professor, he wishes he was able to voice his opinions more on changes that need to be made.

Many adjunct professors have their reasons for why they decided to start teaching. 

One professor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that his current job just wasn’t paying the bills at home for him.

He took up teaching two classes at UDM in order to earn a little extra income.

But this isn’t the case for all professors. 

Like Payne and Youdin, Mike Martinez was also a student at the University of Detroit Mercy. 

Working full time as a business reporter for The Detroit News, Martinez has returned to his alma mater to teach a news writing class on Wednesday nights. 

“I loved my time at UDM,” Martinez said. “They offered me the opportunity and I jumped at the chance. It was a great college experience, so I figured I would be able to pass on a little of what I learned to the next generation.”

While many of these adjunct professors try to juggle time between their family and professional lives away from teaching, each professor seemed to feel as though teaching was a way of giving back to the university that helped launch them into their careers.