Oct 312004
 
Authors: Lila Hickey

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

security.

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

pay increases.

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

for benefits.

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

department.

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

adjunct, agreed.

“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

deserve.

“This ultimately comes down to what matters to the university,”

Doe said.

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

made.

“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

reviewed.

“I certainly believe that $3,000 a section is too low,” Hardy

said. “We rely on the very valuable service that they’re

performing.”

Nicholls agreed.

“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

semester.”

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

rewards.

“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

Statistics, nces.ed.gov.

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

accreditation.

“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

well-qualified.”

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

individuals.

“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

leaving.

“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.”

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.