AT THE HEAD OF THE CLASS: (Above) Horner critiquing work during an Intermediate Photography class,
(bottom) at the computer with an Advanced Digital Photography student.
Photos this page © Colleen Higgins, headshot © Sydney Wlodyka
current chair of
the Art and Design Department
at Adrian College in southeast
as an adjunct in
2005. He was familiar and comfortable with the workings of the small
college environment. He knew
there would be a limited amount
of photography courses available
to teach, so he made it clear to
administrators that his training
extended to graphic design, video
and other subjects that might be
suited to future courses. Speaking
both from his experience as an
adjunct and now as chair, he makes
the point that “at smaller colleges,
it is critical to know more than just
To build a relationship, Horner
made the department feel that they
were the only important program
on his teaching horizon. He exuded
loyalty with a willingness to contribute time and ideas for improvements. Horner recognized that the
department was key to his future at
the college and that, in order to get
continued support, his commitment was needed first. “They want
to feel that they can depend on
you,” he says.
Although there was no appar-
ent full-time teaching position in
view, Horner worked as though he
was on a probationary assignment.
He says of his experience, “I just
became more and more involved.
I volunteered time and proved
After two semesters, when a full-
time position opened up, he was
a known entity as a teacher, fit in
well with other department faculty
and had shown a commitment.
Horner enhanced his value as a
candidate to the degree that, even
with just over a year at Adrian, he
was able to transition smoothly
to a full-time hire. Because of his
immersion in observing the depart-
ment as an adjunct, Horner was
comfortable with the role he would
play as the newest full-time faculty.
Now, as chair, he views this as a
good method for finding the best
faculty for his department.
One important strategy Horner
points to for adjuncts seeking to
transition to a full-time position
is professional development. “Use
off times, summers or long breaks
to polish your skills or learn new
potential teaching areas.” Full-time
faculty members are normally
required to be involved in “
professional development,” and Horner
views this as a top characteristic for
any faculty seeking a teaching job.
STEP BEHIND THE SCENES
2012 PHOTO EDUCATION SURVEY RESULTS
Click here for survey results in a 27-page PDF.
For further results and analysis, visit the MAC-On-Campus
Web site or contact Bill Gratton, the MAC Group’s National
Manager of Educational Markets.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PDF
The above graph of survey respondents shows that many
current photo educators are in their mid-to-late 50s, with
the median age being 52.
Bill Gratton, national manager of educational markets at
the Mac Group has produced surveys on photographic
education since 2003. The 2012 survey data offers good
news for those seeking employment as photographic
educators, particularly as adjuncts.
While the overall ratio of full-time to part-time faculty has
remained stable from 2009 to 2012 surveys, the volume
of part-time teaching reported has increased, indicating
that a larger amount of teaching responsibilities are being
shifted to adjuncts rather than expanding tenure-track/
There are several factors that influence institutions
to increase part-time instruction. The three most common
Diversity of Offering: Adjuncts offer a wider range of
specialties, experiences and abilities than one full-time
faculty member. The 2012 survey showed imaging curricula evolving in multiple directions, including more offerings
in video, digital, non-silver and commercial lighting. With
this variety, the likelihood of staffing these areas with a
single, full-time generalist is not as plausible as utilizing
several adjuncts with specific and focused skills.
Adjunct Appointments as a Hiring Screen:
Institutions want to hire known quantities with proven teaching
abilities. It is far less risky to hire a part-time instructor to
determine the fit within the department or program. Many
résumés show accomplishments but are not an adequate
gauge of performance or compatibility within a particular
Pure Economics: This is the bottom line in hiring
adjuncts over full-time faculty. Part-time instructors are
far less expensive—in terms of salary base and included
benefits, health care, retirement and so on.
Another Factor—Graying Faculty: The points above
define parameters that institutions consider in seeking
adjunct faculty—but is there a need? Based on survey
data, the most noticeable factor pointing to future hiring
of photo educators is a median age of 52 years among
current faculty. As older faculty retire, new educators
will be hired to fill an apparently stable enrollment in