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Transitioning From Adjunct To Tenure Track

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Transitioning to an Academic Career

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1355.1 - 10.1355.7



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Paper Authors

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Michael Gregg

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Tamara Knott

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Jenny Lo

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Transitioning from Adjunct to Tenure Track

Jenny L. Lo, Tamara W. Knott, and Michael H. Gregg Department of Engineering Education Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Three faculty members in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech discuss their successful transitions from adjunct faculty to tenure-track faculty. One faculty member had industrial experience, worked as an adjunct in a community college before becoming tenure- track faculty, and is now a tenured faculty member. The second faculty member had experience as a university researcher, worked as an instructor in one department and as an adjunct in another division at Virginia Tech before becoming a tenure-track faculty member in 1999. The third faculty member worked as an adjunct for 2.5 years in what is now the Department of Engineering Education and was hired as a tenure-track faculty member in 2003.

The faculty members discuss differences in job expectations, employee benefits, and university resources for adjunct and tenure-track positions, what they did to prepare for a tenure-track position, why they believe they were successful in obtaining a tenure-track position, and interviewing for a tenure-track position. With the recent departmental shift from a primarily teaching to a research-oriented focus, these three faculty members also elaborate on how they are approaching this transition as well.

Michael Gregg, Associate Professor

An alternate and increasingly less traveled road toward tenure in engineering is via industry. This is particularly true in a research university, such as Virginia Tech. Twenty years of industrial experience included self employment, government consulting (honorably referred to as a ‘beltway bandit’ in the Washington D.C. environs), machine design and automation, quality control, marketing and manufacturing. Reaching a ‘technical ceiling’ in industry – a position above which administrative duties abound but active engineering is relegated to others – required a reassessment of career path. Teaching engineering had never been considered as an option, having seemingly endured that experience as an undergraduate and graduate student. I was, however, convinced by an engineering colleague that in the world of academics, particularly engineering, politics played a back-burner role and besides, you would only teach one or two classes a week. I thus began my long tenure-track process as an adjunct teaching engineering at one of Virginia’s community colleges.

As a community college adjunct faculty, I began by teaching evening engineering courses for token compensation. Courses included Manufacturing Processes, statics, strength of materials, drafting, CAD, programming and heat transfer, among other courses. The most memorable course was a three hour long lecture offered once a week covering manufacturing processes. This course proved much easier on the faculty than on the audience. In retrospect, I have to

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Gregg, M., & Knott, T., & Lo, J. (2005, June), Transitioning From Adjunct To Tenure Track Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14737

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