Adjunct Promotion at a For-Profit

Professors at online colleges can be an anonymous, itinerant bunch, moonlighting as adjuncts from far-flung locales and often struggling to cobble together a teaching load that can pay the bills.

Breaking this mold are 98 newly minted online faculty members at Grand Canyon University. The for-profit Christian university hired them as full-time employees, and they get standard benefits packages that are not available to part-timers. The group works weekdays from noon to 8 p.m., reporting for duty at two administrative buildings in Phoenix, near the university's campus.

Full-time teaching gigs are rare in online higher education, which has a business model built on cheap labor with flexible hours. But Grand Canyon bets that having a cadre of long-term online professors will prove a competitive advantage.

Brian Mueller, Grand Canyon’s CEO, said the relatively expensive hiring binge is an attempt to send a message about “better teaching and better service.” He said the move would pay for itself by enhancing the university’s brand and reducing marketing costs, and also by improving student retention.

“We’re trying to build a real faculty,” he said, who “teach and build loyalty for Grand Canyon.”

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