The Cool Day Jobs of UMD’s Adjunct Professors

Oct 6, 2023

How 5 Lecturers Bring Real-World Expertise to the Classroom

Collage of adjunct faculty members
Image Caption
Photo collage by Maryland Today staff
Originally published in Maryland Today, written by Annie Krakower. 

In between days spent defending the Earth from asteroids, teaching jujitsu, studying crime scenes and excelling at hundreds of other vocations, experts across the Baltimore-Washington area come to the University of Maryland to do it some more.

As adjunct faculty, around 450 professionals teach part-time on campus, sharing current professional practices in their fields, extending the ranks of faculty in the schools and colleges, and lending the prestige of their often high-profile employers to the university.

“Our adjunct faculty are invaluable members of our university community. Their dual roles as dedicated educators and active professionals enrich our classrooms with practical insights and skills,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice. “This union of academia and real-world application equips our students with a comprehensive understanding of their disciplines, positioning them for success beyond graduation.”

In return, adjuncts can find fresh motivation to stay current in their skills, supplement their income, get a jolt of energy from their students, recruit candidates for internships and jobs in their offices, and pass along their passions to the next generation.

“To work with college-age kids who want to learn and want to be there, and to see the benefits even in a short semester is wonderful,” said Ken Klotz, a senior kinesiology lecturer and sixth-degree black belt who owns two karate studios. “I’m thankful that over the years, I hear back from people saying, ‘I really got a lot out of your class.’ That just means so much.”

Here’s how five lecturers spend their time outside the classroom—and how they bring their real-world experiences back into it to help students learn:

Amber WendlandAmber Wendland ’10, M.ARCH ’13, MCP ‘13

Day job: Associate principal planner and architect at Ayers Saint Gross
Course taught: “Recent Developments in Urban Studies; Urban Design Software and Graphic Communication Skills” (URSP688K)

If you’ve eaten at the Yahentamitsi dining hall, studied in the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center or set up your home away from home in Johnson-Whittle or Pyon-Chen halls, then you’re already familiar with the work of Ayers Saint Gross, where Amber Wendland collaborates across architecture and planning projects.

The architecture lecturer leads urban and community-based planning at the firm, which is internationally known for its work at higher education institutions. Additionally, the company designs cultural centers, lab buildings, innovation districts and more.

“It’s been really exciting in my career thus far to toggle between multiple scales of design,” Wendland said. “A lot of my work is related to cities and planning at a broad scale, and it trickles all the way down into building design.”

Throughout her decade at the Baltimore-based firm, she’s juggled multiple projects simultaneously; her current work includes city planning in Charleston, S.C., a town revitalization project in Tuskegee, Ala., and even a kids’ camp in Queenstown, Md.

The Tuskegee project has become the basis of her class at UMD, where she asks students to analyze, design and document the planning and design ideas.

“It’s always fun to see what they come up with and how the students interpret the assignment,” she said. “Even though it’s a lot of work, I end every class with more energy than I come into it with. To me, that’s a great sign that it’s something that I love doing.”

Read about the other lecturers on the full story in Maryland Today.

Karen Shih '09 contributed to this story.
Program / Center Affiliation