Mark Bauerlein’s essay “What’s the Point of a Professor?” muses on how the professional pressure on professors affects their availablity to students, especially when those students come to college mostly for job training (rather than a character-building exposure to a world of ideas). In his response, “Dean Dad” points out the impact of higher education’s growing reliance on an army of part-time adjunct instructors (who are hired on a class-by-class basis). It is very hard for students to bond with their instructors — or instructors to bond with their institutions — if the instructor has gets no job security, no benefits, no office, and no respect.
Tolstoy once claimed that there are really only two stories, and we keep telling each of them over and over again: a stranger comes to town, and a hero goes on a quest. In higher education, we live those two stories continuously. Every semester, a new crop of strangers come to town. And every semester, we set a new group of heroes off on their respective quests. That’s our job. It’s what we do. It’s about the students. It’s not about the faculty. — “Dean Dad,” — Confessions of a Community College Dean