Special faculty share their expertise

Adjunct faculty member Laurel Hansen. (Photo by
Steven Navratil)

Laurel Hansen knows ants. She earned her Ph.D. in entomology from WSU in 1985 and co-authored the book, “Urban Ants of North America and Europe,” published last year by Cornell University Press.

Hansen, an instructor at Spokane Falls Community College, shares her entomological expertise as one of 1,011 adjunct faculty at WSU.
“My role as an adjunct is primarily to serve as a graduate adviser and to provide advice on urban entomology,” Hansen explained. “I have a specific expertise that students can use. I also help community college students who are planning on going to WSU and work with extension programs in ant identification.”
Richard Zack, chair of the department of entomology, said Hansen is one of ahalf-dozen adjuncts in his department, and a vital part of his students’ education.
“Without adjuncts, our students would not get as good a preparation,” Zack said. “Every adjunct is selected for good reason. Each one offers something to the department that we would not be able to offer without them.”
Important component
Adjunct faculty serve on every WSU campus (see table on this page) and their role is clearly defined in the faculty manual.  Adjuncts generally are employed off-campus and, because of their special expertise, are granted temporary appointments to teach or serve on graduate committees.
The WSU Tri-Cities campus has a long history of relying on adjunct faculty, said James R. Pratt, campus vice-chancellor for academic affairs.
“Twenty to forty years ago, much of the program here at Tri-Cities was at the graduate level and was in the hands of adjunct faculty,” Pratt said. “That reliance on adjuncts has continued now that we are part of WSU. They are an important part of our community.”


Pratt cited Gary Spanner as an example of an adjunct faculty member who is contributing significantly to education at the WSU Tri-Cities campus.

Spanner, manager of economic development at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, teaches about business models for disruptive technologies (focusing on the impact of new lines of products like cell phones).
“It’s important for students to learn about entrepreneurs and disruptive technology since that results in a lot of job growth,” Spanner said. “Business students today need to understand and participate in that process. That real-world analysis is what I bring to our students.”


At WSU Spokane, Mark McMulkin, an adjunct who teaches biomechanical analysis in the exercise physiology and metabolism program, provides a similar real-world expertise to his students. He is director of the motion analysis laboratory at the Shriners’ Hospital in Spokane.

“At our lab, we work with children with movement disorders like cerebral palsy,” McMulkin said. “I apply biomechanics to the human body. The students I teach have limited exposure to children with disabilities, so I am able to supply that experience. My students are also exposed to the Shriner motion analysis lab. It’s a good match. Everyone is gaining.”
Kay Meier, interim chair of nutrition and exercise metabolism, echoes McMulkin’s enthusiasm.
“Adjuncts like Mark McMulkin are terrific for us,” she said. “He offers a unique expertise and offers students an opportunity for hands-on work at Shriners. He works with children with disabilities, which is a new perspective for our students who often focus on athletes.
“It is essential to have adjuncts,” she said. “They fill particular niches for our students at WSU Spokane.”


Susan Peabody, associate chair of history at WSU Vancouver, was equally upbeat.

“This is a small institution,” Peabody said. “We are not always able to offer all we want. Adjuncts expand the range of what we can provide. That directly benefits our students.”

As an example, Peabody cited Susan Tissot, who teaches a course in public history (how the public encounters history at museums, historic preservation sites and research laboratories).

“I bring 23 years of museum experience to the classroom,” said Tissot, executive director of the Clark County Historical Society and Museum in Vancouver. “For many history students, working in community history is a career-goal option, and this course is a way to check it out. The students gain a greater understanding of the role of historical institutions.”
Faculty appointed to adjunct titles
Fall 2003 and 2008 corrected
Location    2003   2008
Pullman      348     302
Spokane     202     136
Tri-Cities     256     270
Vancouver  127      208
Other           114      95
Total            1,047  1,011

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