Adjunct and part-time faculty make great evangelists for a campus store, because they are responsible for much of the undergraduate teaching on U.S. campuses. A temp-friendly faculty sale event is a fun way to win loyal customers and increase your campus profile.
Why campus stores can benefit from reaching out to contingent faculty
As colleges and universities increase their reliance on contingent instructors, more undergraduates are taking the bulk of their classes with part-timers and adjuncts. Teachers classified as “off the tenure track” comprise 73 percent of the instructor population on U.S. campuses, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
For campus stores, that means contingent teachers can have a powerful effect on business. They often have more contact with campus newcomers than tenured faculty. Many select their own course materials and design their own courses, so these teachers also have an impact on adoptions.
You'll reach far more contingent faculty if you make an effort to introduce your store and its mission. These teachers frequently have packed schedules and hundreds of students on their rosters. Many have shared offices — or no office at all — which makes it hard to keep up with administrative requests and communications. Nevertheless, they would find it hard to overlook an email from a someone familiar who has offered them kindness, including a campus store professional.
Given the high proportion of non-tenured faculty on most campuses, collegiate retailers have much to gain from reaching out. Taking steps to make contingent feel appreciated could transform them into loyal customers, eager to let their students know that the campus store is a great place to shop.
How to attract temporary teachers to the campus store
When you plan your sale event, consider discounting the kind of items that would appeal to student customers. Data show that contingent faculty members can be as financially stretched as students. Many are still at the start of their career, searching for a more secure position either on your campus or elsewhere. Some teach on disparate campuses, cobbling together a collection of classes for income that barely covers necessities.
According to the American Community Survey, 31 percent of part-time faculty live at or near the federal poverty line. The UC Berkeley Labor Center has reported that one in four families of part-time higher education instructors rely on food stamps, Medicaid or another form of public assistance.
Temporary faculty may have other things in common with students, too. For instance, many teachers keep undergraduate-like hours, grading papers and prepping courses into the wee hours. If your store has a café, offering teachers a free coffee or two is a great way to bring them in.
Discounted school supplies and education tech will certainly appeal to part-time teachers, too. They usually pay for classroom tools like whiteboard markers out of pocket. And cut prices on a few low-cost fun items that have popularity with students. These could include anything from popular cosmetics and accessories to the latest budget-friendly headphones or wearables.
Finally, you may find that contingent faculty members are eager to acquire a few articles of logo wear. School-branded gear lets them demonstrate campus loyalty. It helps them connect with students via shared school pride. You could include a logo keychain or low-cost t-shirt as a giveaway item for your event. Or you could provide a special discount on upmarket logoed athletic wear.
Use these strategies to draw contingent faculty to your event
You don’t need to do any elaborate planning or advertising for this kind of sale. A little imagination combined with these ideas should bring success.
- Discount the kind of merchandise that might appeal to students: logo wear, school supplies and trendy tech or fashion items are great examples.
- Offer a small item for free. If your store has a café, entice busy contingent faculty with something like a free coffee or snack. If not, consider a logoed keychain or cup.
- Include a raffle for a large prize like a laptop or mobile device. The opportunity to win something of value would be a great incentive for teachers to take a detour to the campus store between classes.
- Allow teachers to verify their employment status in a variety of ways. Some will have faculty IDs. Others might only have access to class rosters or W2s. Make it clear in your advertising that you’ll accept anything that confirms their status as teachers, whether it’s a copy of a contract or an official school ID.
- Advertise the sale on social media and with flyers throughout campus. Emphasize that your store has special offerings for anyone on campus who teaches. Your flyer could say something like this: “Come to the Campus Store Teacher Appreciation Sale. All are Welcome: full-time, part-time or adjunct. If you teach on campus, you qualify for discounts, freebies and a chance to win prizes in our raffle!”
Contingent faculty will appreciate campus store efforts to acknowledge them
Despite their numbers, contingent faculty don’t typically receive much attention from administrators or full-time faculty. They’re likely to appreciate any campus organization that specifically acknowledges them and their work.
As an article in the Atlantic put it:
“To be a perennial adjunct professor is to hear the constant tone of higher education’s death knell. The story is well known—the long hours, the heavy workload, the insufficient pay—as academia relies on adjunct professors, non-tenured faculty members, who are often paid pennies on the dollar to do the same work required of their tenured colleague.”
Many contingent faculty members would be surprised and grateful to receive acknowledgement from the campus store. Even those who don’t go to the sale will notice the kindness and be more likely to reciprocate with positive word of mouth in the classroom.