Adjunct professors in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts are upset
about salary levels and a lack of job security – issues they say
are particularly pertinent for adjunct faculty members.
Adjunct faculty, also known as instructors, are employed to
teach classes but are not professors and are not eligible for
tenure. Tenured faculty members emphasize three areas: teaching,
research and service. They also have more academic freedom and job
Adjuncts are not required to meet the same research and
publication requirements as tenure and tenure-track faculty, but
they also do not receive the same benefits packages or merit-based
Instructors in the College of Liberal Arts are currently paid a
base rate of $3,000 per semester for each section they teach, said
Heather Hardy, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Although they
are not required to, many adjuncts teach four sections a semester,
which is considered full-time teaching. This means full-time
adjuncts make as little as $24,000 a year and must meet certain
requirements before they receive benefits.
“They see our worth. They see that we can do it. So why don’t we
get paid accordingly?” said Marie-Jo Hofmann, an instructor in the
foreign languages and literatures department.
Like English department adjuncts, foreign languages and
literature instructors receive $3,000 per section, she said. She
also noted that in her department, instructors must teach two
classes for three consecutive semesters before they are eligible
They also have no assurance of continued employment. Adjuncts
are required to re-apply for a teaching position every semester and
sometimes do not find out whether they will be teaching until a few
weeks before the semester starts, said Instructor Jill Salahub of
the English department.
“There’s always a chance that next semester you might not have a
job,” she said.
There are myriad difficulties created by this lack of early
notification, said Sue Doe, an instructor in the English
English department Instructor Kelly Cockburn agreed.
“We’re often told to move out of our office, only to move right
back in three months later,” she said. “Labeling us temps has this
idea that we’re always in flux.”
The precarious nature of adjunct’s employment also makes it
difficult to buy a house and start a family.
“It’s darn near impossible for people making $24,000 to even
qualify for a home loan,” Doe said.
English Instructor Kerri Mitchell, whose husband is also an
“It’s awful. My husband and I would like to start a family, but
we’re skeptical as to whether we can,” she said. “We bought a house
one-and-a-half years ago, and one of the adjuncts in the department
said, ‘Are you crazy?'”
Adjuncts in the English department and College of Liberal Arts
acknowledge that their salaries are worse than those of adjuncts in
other colleges on campus, but they feel there are a variety of ways
in which adjuncts as a group are not treated with the respect they
“This ultimately comes down to what matters to the university,”
Their recent efforts have been noticed: Academic Vice
President/Provost Peter Nicholls and Hardy recently met with
adjuncts to discuss improving their employment.
The adjuncts have outlined four requested changes. Initially,
they want a $500 per section pay raise, to $3,500. This rate, Doe
said, would be an increase equivalent to the percentage raises
tenured faculty members have received since 1998 – the last time
adjuncts received a raise. Second, adjuncts are seeking an annual
raise to keep salaries consistent with cost-of-living pay raises.
Third, they are also seeking merit-based pay raises.
Finally, the adjuncts have asked for earlier notification as to
the status of their employment for coming semesters.
Adjuncts who attended the meeting are guardedly optimistic. Anne
Gogela, who has been an instructor in the English department for 15
years, said she has seen offers from the former provost fall
through, but she is hopeful that this time some changes will be
“They’ve promised us things for six years, and they’ve broken
promises, (but) I was encouraged,” she said.
Hardy and Nicholls agree that the salary levels need to be
“I certainly believe that $3,000 a section is too low,” Hardy
said. “We rely on the very valuable service that they’re
“The adjuncts have raised an important issue, in that the floor
salary that the university has paid too many of them has not been
incremented in six years,” he wrote in an e-mail interview. “I
think the university needs to respond, although progress on the
matter may not be as rapid as we would all wish due to current
fiscal constraints. As a first step, we will find a way to raise
floor stipends approximately 5 percent for the spring
Hardy said she has outlined a plan to ensure adjuncts receive
early notification of their employment status.
Adjuncts in the College of Liberal Arts are the primary figures
in this protest, but instructors in other colleges say their
treatment is less than ideal.
Todd Wellnitz, an instructor for the biology department in the
College of Natural Sciences, said adjunct pay in his department is
nowhere near that of tenured faculty. He also dislikes that
instructors have no real prospects for advancement or merit-based
“If you don’t have a working spouse you basically can’t do it,”
Wellnitz said. “It’s not just pay, though. It’s also matters of
your position. To continue doing it when your situation is unlikely
to change is tough.”
Mariam Masid, an instructor in the College of Business, said
base salary in her department is higher than those of adjuncts in
the English department, but she said she still feels adjuncts are
underpaid and lack of job security is a major problem.
“It’s just difficult to plan ahead if you don’t know if you’re
teaching (next semester),” she said.
Adjuncts and part-time faculty are teaching increasing numbers
of classes nationwide, according to the U.S. Center for Education
At CSU, the trend is partially a result of the university’s
budgetary difficulties, Hardy said.
“We don’t have the budget to hire tenure-track faculty,” she
said. “Frankly, our problem has been the state has been eroding its
support of higher education.”
Another issue raised by adjuncts is that having so many faculty
members in adjunct positions may threaten the university’s
“It’s a concern to have too many adjuncts, in terms of
accreditation,” Masid said.
According to a 2004 self-study report, the university’s No. 1
concern over continued accreditation by the Higher Learning
Commission was the prevalence of temporary faculty.
“The widespread reliance on temporary faculty to provide
instruction in some departments may dilute the quality of the
educational programs of those departments,” the report states,
although it notes that most adjuncts are “highly motivated and
Doe said she shares these concerns. She believes the majority of
adjuncts are well chosen, but she worries the low salary may drive
them away and force the university to hire less-qualified
“It’s not as highly competitive a job process,” she said.
“Education could suffer.”
Hardy said the English department has a relatively large number
of adjunct faculty. She said this is the result of budget cuts,
increasing enrollment and the department’s basic composition
classes, which all CSU students are required to take. This means
the department must teach a large number of low-level classes,
usually the responsibility of adjuncts.
With approximately 200 sections of college composition, COCC150,
taught each year, Doe said, the university needs to remember how
much it relies on adjuncts, especially since many have considered
“Quite honestly, I think that all of us need to be thinking
about leaving,” Doe said. “We owe it to ourselves to be thinking
outside of this place. The irony is that if we go away, the problem
doesn’t go away. There’s always a new crop of people. Before I
leave for sure, I’d like to see some things improve.”