For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!
By Laura Durnell
Since Autumn 2000, I have taught at DePaul as contingent part-time faculty. I enjoy teaching at DePaul and am inspired by its intelligent and remarkable faculty, student and staff body. As a bonus, DePaul treats its adjunct faculty better than many higher education institutions. Yet even though DePaul made me feel welcome and I had made friends with adjuncts, one feeling remained: isolation.
Adjuncts are jokingly referred to as “Roads Scholars” because we often teach at more than one college. Since graduating with my MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute, I have taught at Roosevelt University, the Graham School of General Studies at the University of Chicago, and Wilbur Wright College in addition to DePaul. Because of the lack of job and income security for adjuncts, teaching at other institutions or working at other jobs is a necessity. And because of not being secured to one university or college, it’s too easy to become disconnected from not only other faculty members but staff and administration as well. Too many times over the past 15 years, I have had other faculty members, part-time and full-time, in my departments ask, “Who are you?”
When I received DWN’s email last year inviting me to apply for membership, I knew DWN would provide the community I needed. In addition, I became excited that DWN would recognize and let me apply my talents and knowledge. Months before DWN’s invitation, I had attended the DWN events “Life on the Academic Ladder” and “Yes, You Can!” with financial planner and author Julie Murphy Casserly. Not only did these events provide fellowship and collegiality (at “Life on the Academic Ladder” I even reunited with my fellow American Society of Magazine Editors intern who is now a tenure-track English professor at DePaul, Rebecca Johns-Trissler), but they recognized what female faculty and staff offered and needed in terms of professional and personal development.
I am a member of DWN’s Communications Team, which allows me to utilize and further develop my writing skills, most notably writing for the digital age. This year I have written a promotional email and a blog post for “Image/ing Gender.” I invited some of my fellow adjuncts to the event, and one who attended plans to apply for DWN membership for the coming year. One of my application’s goals for 2013-14 stated that I wanted to welcome more adjuncts into DWN. I think I am fulfilling my objective.
Yet community is my ultimate reward. In addition to working with my team, I have met and worked with staff and faculty on other teams and members of DWN’s directorate. Two members who work outside my academic department even requested that we meet for coffee to discuss writing. If I had not applied to be part of DWN, I would have never met these amazing women, and they definitely would not have asked me out for coffee to talk shop. As our Twitter hashtag proclaims, #DePaulWomenRock!
Laura Durnell is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is an adjunct in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Department at DePaul University.
(Learn more about being part of the DePaul Women’s Network during recruitment for 2014-15. Applications are being accepted now until April 4!)