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TAWC Team Recognized For Developing Innovative Strategies To Support Adjunct Faculty

Longmeadow, MA— A leadership team from The American Women’s College (TAWC), the online division of Bay Path University designed for adult women pursuing bachelor’s degrees, has been recognized for developing innovative strategies that support adjunct faculty and the students they teach.

As finalists for the Delphi Award, the TAWC faculty development committee’s proposal Social Online Universal Learning (SOUL): A Comprehensive Approach to Adjunct Faculty Professional Development and Support in the Online Environment was selected for being at the forefront of approaches and ideas that “support non-tenure-track, contingent and/or adjunct faculty in pursuing strategic priorities such as student learning and community engagement.”

The award is an initiative of the University of Southern California’s Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, dedicated to raising awareness about changing faculty trends, improving support for faculty off the tenure track and helping to create new faculty models to support higher education institutions in the future.

Today, more than 70 percent of the instructional faculty in American higher education work in non-tenure-track positions. Compared to their tenured or tenure-track counterparts, non-tenure-track faculty are often hired last minute at far lower wages, and thus struggle to balance heavy teaching loads at multiple institutions with limited time to prepare their courses and limited support to improve their curriculum design or pedagogy. By taking a proactive, holistic approach to the professional development of its adjunct faculty, TAWC addresses these trends, which not only disadvantage academic experts, but also students.

“We see it as a social justice issue related to our adjuncts,” says Maura Devlin, Associate VP and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. “Higher education has been known for hierarchies and elitism. But by fully integrating our adjunct faculty into our unique TAWC model, we invite them to become part of a wide community of practice whose mission is similarly social justice oriented– to provide access and quality learning experiences to adult women, two-thirds of whom are first generation college-goers. It’s an approach that ultimately translates into persistence and degree completion.”

The team outlined its SOUL model, an innovative ecosystem of student and faculty support that leverages the power of technology to gather data and utilizes learning analytics and predictive modelling to improve course delivery and student learning outcomes.  Their proposal laid out strategies to address the specific needs of adjunct faculty through onboarding, ongoing training and development, and promoting community and collaboration in a virtual environment.

“By giving adjunct faculty the tools, information, and relationships in the TAWC community to be successful in their classrooms, the SOUL ecosystem aligns adjunct faculty success with student success,” explains Devlin.

“I have worked at several universities and The American Women’s College is the first place I’ve felt like adjunct support and professional development is taken seriously,” notes Gretchen Heaton, a Senior Academic Director at the college. “We support our instructors holistically both as frontline workers serving our students, but also as individuals with career and professional development needs.”

“As adjunct faculty with TAWC, I find it to be tremendously helpful to receive training experiences that promote community among instructors and allow a platform for us to share best practices,” says Jess Egan, who teaches English and women’s leadership courses at the university.  “We are also required to reflect on our teaching practices and scholarly endeavors throughout the annual evaluation process. This robust package of support embedded in the SOUL model  is unlike any institution I’ve ever taught for.”


About Bay Path University

Bay Path University was founded in 1897. With locations in Longmeadow (main), East Longmeadow (Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center), Springfield (MA), Sturbridge (MA), and Concord (MA), Bay Path’s innovative program offerings include traditional undergraduate degrees for women, The American Women’s College on-ground and online, the first all-women, all-online accredited bachelor’s degree programs in the country; over 30 graduate programs for women and men, including doctoral degrees; and Strategic Alliances, offering professional development courses for individuals and organizations.  Bay Path’s goal is to give students confidence in the fundamentals of their chosen field, the curiosity to question the ordinary, the leadership to show initiative, and the desire to make a difference.