Rob Jenkins (@higheredspeak), over at the Chronicle Vitae site, counters the myth of adjunct teaching as the kiss of death for one’s chances of a tenure line. In the world of community colleges, he points out, adjuncting lets you learn about an institution and make important connections.
Then, when a tenure line does open up, you’re a known quantity with an inside track for the job.
It doesn’t work that way at all teaching-intensive institutions, although, at my Master’s comprehensive, we certainly have hired for tenure lines from amongst our adjunct faculty. The problem is usually research, in the public regional sector. The longer we exploit you as an adjunct, while you also teach at two other institutions, the less marketable you get–because you no longer have time to give to your research or creative activity. And while research is not our top criterion for the job, it is a necessary part of what our faculty members do. We expect you to have an active research agenda and for that research to contribute to your teaching.
So–different approaches at different kinds of teaching-intensive schools.