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Story from Michael Brisbois

Michael Brisbois
Number of years as contract academic staff: 
8 years
Favourite part of your job: 
Expanding students’ expectations and experience of writing and literature.
Cyclical unemployment of usually two months a year has affected how my career has progressed. Essentially, I’m not able to do the work I am best at for months at a time. These gaps in employment mean I am not able to contribute to the university as much as I could. The times between teaching contracts compresses my ability to do research, revise courses, and improve as a teacher into an artificially short time. While I feel I am able to provide excellent teaching and accomplish real research, I always feel there is more potential to my work that can’t be realized because of the way sessional labour functions. While research and committee work are not paid by my employer, and therefore it is possible to argue that I should simply not perform that work, research and service are too much of a valuable part of the academic environment to be ignored. Most critically, my research keeps me vital and engaged with my students, enhancing my courses and sustaining my passion for my discipline. I value my colleagues and my work, so it is hard to disengage from it during unemployment. I am proud of the university I work for, and I know that I am respected by my colleagues. While I have a place in the university, I would like the university to be even more successful and I am not able to fully realize that success.