Contributor: Sherri Singer, Coordinator, Adjunct Institute, and Department Head, Alamance Community College.

The Adjunct Institute at Alamance Community College has been working with Adjuncts since 2005. Using our decade of experience we have developed three simple rules to guide our communication, and to ensure that Adjuncts actually read our emails. Adjuncts often have two or more jobs, and many work at multiple institutions. They may have two or more email addresses that they check each day. As coordinators who work with Adjuncts we need to tailor our emails to fit their needs and create cues that attract and keep their attention. We use the following three rules when communicating with our adjuncts.

Rule #1: Limit communication.

Limit your contact with Adjuncts to one or two times per week. Educational institutions are notorious for “everyone” emails that include committee minutes, campus activity announcements, newsletters, fund raising, security reminders, and general information. At the beginning of each semester the average faculty member receives ten or more reminders. While each of these is important, all of those emails can be overwhelming for Adjuncts and are easily overlooked. If you limit your contact, you send the message that the messages they do receive from you are important.

Rule #2: Communicate pertinent information only.

We set the stage for effective communication by promising that we will only send pertinent information. We promise Adjuncts that we will focus on providing only the essential information they need to do their jobs on campus. Our emails focus on reminders for major events such as due dates, registration, and professional development offerings. Adjuncts know the value of these emails and the necessity of reading them as well as informing their students of the pertinent information because they are not inundated with unnecessary emails.

Rule #3: Keep it short and positive.

We keep our emails concise and positive, providing simple directions and announcements. We acknowledge that our Adjuncts are busy professionals, and their time is valuable. If at all possible we limit the email to a paragraph and attach directions, timelines, or handouts for those that need them. Each email contains an acknowledgement of their workload and a reminder of our appreciation for their efforts.

By advertising the rules in advance and following through we ensure that Adjuncts read our emails.


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This content comes from a collaboration between Cengage Learning and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), a membership organization committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges. Recognizing the growing need for adjunct support, Cengage Learning and NISOD are partnering to co-host a series of webinars, podcasts, and blog posts covering professional development topics for adjunct faculty and administrators. To learn more about this partnership, visit //