Archive for Affordable Care Act

UA limits part-time faculty work hours, subverts student success

Part-time faculty around the country are being hit with reduced work loads — and in some cases are being left with no work at all — causing those same faculty to worry about the effect on their students.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 2.35.07 AM

Twitter / OhioPTFacAssn: @uakron requiring #adjuncts …

The University of North Texas plans to eliminate its part-time faculty next year and replace them with full-timers. The move doesn’t necessarily mean that adjunct faculty will move into cozy full-time faculty slots. It may mean they will be left out in the cold instead.

Part-time faculty in states such as Indiana and Ohio are already feeling the chill. Scores of Ivy Tech Community College adjunct faculty across Indiana will be able to teach up to only nine credit hours this fall because of administrators’ plans to avoid paying an estimated $10 million for medical insurance once the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.

UA adjuncts pinched while Proenza lands golden parachute

Adjuncts at the University of Akron are experiencing the most severe cutbacks in the state. Their work loads have been limited to eight credit hours per semester, as administrators work to circumvent the intentions of the ACA. They use a budget deficit estimated at between $26 and $30 million as their excuse.

But UA Trustees still managed to find enough money to offer retiring president Luis Proenza a uakron infographic largeglittering golden parachute when he leaves next June 30. His salary will increase to $500K for his last six months on the job, he’ll be paid $125K in bonuses, and when he returns from a fully paid one-year sabbatical, he’ll land comfortably in a $375K tenured faculty slot, making him the highest paid faculty member on campus.

Meanwhile, UA has put new paperwork requirements into effect for its poorly paid adjuncts that make their working conditions more negative — and threaten their students’ college success as well. HR is now requiring adjuncts to disclose other teaching assignments and limit the hours they spend preparing, grading and interacting with students in order to avoid penalties.

The new policy, distributed by chairs and department heads, reads:

Part time faculty members are expected to work no more than twenty-nine hours per week in combination of all assignments at the University of Akron. Two (2) hours of preparation/grading time for each load hour assigned above can be credited toward the 29 hours per week limit.  Weekly hours in excess of 29 must be pre-approved by the department chair or immediate supervisor. Actual hours worked per week must be reported to the department chair or immediate supervisor on a regular basis

Adjunct working conditions and student learning conditions

What do these cuts in part-time faculty workloads and limits on their work hours mean for students? They don’t mean success, especially at universities such as UA grad rateUA, which has the second highest percentage of part-time faculty in Ohio and one of the worst graduation rates in the state at 14 percent.

With UA’s part-time faculty teaching the bulk of general ed classes — those that fill the schedules of freshmen and sophomores — tuition-paying students will find it more difficult than ever to establish relationships with adjuncts who are forced by necessity to hustle off to their next teaching assignment just so they can avoid selling plasma to pay their bills.

They will also find those same faculty guiltily watching the clock — and realizing they must limit the time they spend working on their classes and engaging with their students. Once a part-time faculty member reaches his or her 29-hour limit, do they stop preparing a class lecture, grading student assignments, answering student emails, meeting with students, posting materials to the university’s online learning system?

Part-time faculty angst

Part-timers are a conscientious lot, and they are already asking those very questions — and lamenting the answers they feel compelled to give. Here are a few such sadly pragmatic answers, contributed by adjuncts themselves:

“If we truly follow this mandate, what will that mean to the students as far as the quality of our work? I have always used Springboard (UA’s online learning environment) in the past as a convenience to the students (posting handouts, grades, information), but this semester I have decided to go back to the old fashioned way (paper only) to save time posting information and updates and such on the computer. I already feel that my own teaching standards are being lowered.”

“I know right now that for several weeks, I’m going to go well over 8 hours (for a four-credit course) in just grading alone. And I only have 25 students. I’m concerned that the result would be to ‘lie’ and say I reach my 8-hour maximum each week, when in reality I go much beyond that.”

“When I teach my ____ courses, I spend almost 6 hours prepping alone for each class day! I can’t even begin to imagine the ramifications of this.”

“The thought of telling students that I have gone past my quota of work hours for my pay, almost makes my stomach ill. It makes me feel like such a failure as an instructor.”

“One of my students noticed me grading quizzes quickly as they came in and then on break, and asked why I turned quizzes around so quickly. I responded with a vague ‘I don’t have much time this week outside of class,’ which is technically true because I have family coming to visit. The brief conversation, however, got me thinking about why not point out the fact that all of my grading and class prep is done in my free time? Don’t students have a right to know why their instructors aren’t giving their full attention? By my calculations, with the time that I spend on the class and the pay, I’m close to if not below minimum wage this month.”

“You’re doing your job if you inform them that office hours are ‘by appointment only.’ They have a right to know why you’re not available everyday. You’re doing your job if you tell them what to expect concerning the grading of their assignments and tests and when to expect them to be returned and/or to be posted with comments. I’m doing nothing wrong in my approach when I present a very honest picture of what will take place during an academic semester.”

One blogger framed the situation this way, addressing his answer to the parents of potential college students:

All in all, this means that if your student wants to have an ongoing intellectual relationship with a professor—say, for a senior thesis, field study, or internship—he or she will have to make a conscious effort to find a faculty mentor and stay in touch with that person…Students can’t count on seeing the same professors in most of their major classes.

Local columnist: Convert adjuncts to full-time

Award-winning Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer didn’t hold anything back when he opined that UA graduation rate is awful in his well-placed Aug. 11 column.dyerweb

And he gave UA some good advice: “Isn’t it time for UA to devote a big pile of money to, say, converting its faculty from predominantly part time — 59 percent! — to full time, rather than sprucing up the campus?”

Once he learns about UA’s latest moves to monitor and strictly limit the time part-time faculty spend serving students, he might feel led to write a follow-up. And members of the public may raise some ire as well.

After all, as Dyer put it, “Area taxpayers should be demanding to know why a university that has been constructing things faster than a post-World War II Levittown is foundering in one of the most important categories in higher education.”

Plain Dealer readers call out higher ed on adjunct treatment

Cleveland area readers don’t like how universities and colleges are treating part-time faculty — or how that treatment affects students — and they have put their opinions in writing.

Plain Dealer readers responded to the newspaper’s May 26 story on the inequitable workingScreen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.46.51 AM conditions of part-time faculty — and how adjuncts are fighting back — by writing letters to the editor.

The newspaper published the letters Sunday, June 2, under the headline, “While adjuncts do the work, administrators multiply.” The letters took up a full page of the opinion section — and all were sympathetic to the plight of adjuncts.

The May 26 Plain Dealer story, written by Harlan Spector, is one of many written or broadcast about the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the working conditions of adjunct faculty and the learning conditions of students.

Many colleges and universities are placing limits on the number of credit hours adjuncts can teach to avoid providing adjuncts with health care benefits. Others are underestimating the number of hours adjuncts put in outside of the classroom.

Both approaches, cutting adjunct hours and inventing a false ratio to institutionalize the status quo, are wrong and show that colleges do not consider students, faculty or the quality of education a priority.

Has our educational system become corporate? Has it forgotten its mission to educate and to set examples for fair and equal practice? – Gloria Lucshesi, Cleveland Heights

 

Turnout and media coverage make May Day rally at UA a success

20130501_134821

Full-time faculty members at UA came out to support their part-time colleagues. Included among them were Patricia Millhoff at far right.

Today’s May Day Rally for Equity at the University of Akron was a huge success, with about 100 adjuncts, full-time faculty, staff, students and community members coming out to support a living wage & health care for the 70 percent of the faculty who teach 75 percent of general studies courses at UA.

Part-time faculty from UA attended the event, but they were also supported by adjuncts from area institutions such as Youngstown State University, Tri-C, John Carroll, and Lakeland Community College.

Students wonder what they can do

But that’s not all. The sunny skies and balmy temperatures brought hundreds of students outdoors. They milled about the Student Union plaza, stopping to watch, ask questions, collect information and share their thoughts about how their part-time faculty are treated at UA. Many had some familiarity with the inequitable treatment that adjuncts face. And some asked, “What can I do?”

The answer: Contact your university president and other administrators and tell them you want your faculty to be paid20130501_134335 a living wage and provided with health benefits. Contact UA President Dr. Luis Proenza, at proenza@uakron.edu or at 330-972-7074. Contact the UA Board of Trustees at 330-972-7873 or at BoardOffice@uakron.edu. You can also contact Bill Viau, Associate Vice President for Talent Development & Human Resources, at viau@uakron.edu

Media coverage

Today, the Buchtelite ran a story about UA’s $26 million deficit, the plight of part-time faculty and the May Day rally.

The Buchtelite storyCleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, The Repository / CantonRep.com, and 19 Action News were there to cover the event, so look for their news stories later today or tomorrow.

The Beacon’s story, “UA’s part-time faculty complain about cut in workload,” was already online this afternoon.

More photos

You can also find more photos of today’s rally on the OPTFA Facebook page.

May 2, 2013 Update: Get links to media coverage here.

Adjunct faculty represented at DC public hearing

Maria Maisto, President, New Faculty Majority

Maria Maisto, President, New Faculty Majority

Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, was in Washington, D.C. yesterday to represent adjunct faculty from around the country at an IRS public hearing regarding establishing guidelines for calculating the work hours of part-time faculty.

The hearing was held in response to the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that as of Jan. 1, 2014, large employers must provide health insurance for employees who work 30 hours per week or more.

The Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association, in conjunction with NFM, collected information about how colleges and universities have cut the course loads of part-time faculty in order to avoid providing health care to adjuncts.

In an April 23, 2013, op-ed on Take Part titled “There’s Something Sneaky Going on at Colleges Across America,” Maisto decries higher education’s efforts to employ legal loopholes and manipulate definitions of faculty work in order to avoid complying with the ACA. Yahoo News also picked up her piece.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s coverage of the hearing included testimony from Maisto that called for parity between part-time and tenured and tenure-track professors when determining work hours for adjuncts.

In March, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS collected 380 comments on the issue of Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage (REG-138006-12). Included among them were a comment from David Wilder, Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee of OPTFA and comments from NFM‘s Maisto.

OPTFA Rally for Equity at the University of Akron on May 1

What: Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association Demonstration

When: Wednesday, May 1, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: The plaza between the Student Union and Buchtel Hall on the University of Akron’s main campus. Get the map.

Where to Park: The Gated Visitor Parking Deck on East Buchtel Avenue. View the map.

Who: All faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to attend to show solidarity with 70UA’s part-time faculty whose lives are seriously impacted by a recent administrative decision that cuts their course loads to eight credit hours per semester. This decision was made so that UA could avoid providing health care benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.

Why: To educate the campus community and the public about the inadequate working conditions and the pay and benefit inequities faced by part-time faculty at UA. UA’s approximately 1,500 part-timers make up more than 70 percent of all faculty on campus, receive no benefits and earn about $2,400 per three-credit course. OPTFA wants to raise public awareness of the persistent and systematic mistreatment of part-time faculty by The University of Akron and other Ohio colleges and universities.

Sign up form: To help us gauge the participation we will have for the May 1 Rally for Equity at UA, we are asking that you complete a confidential participation form. Just include as much information as you are comfortable sharing. This information will not be distributed outside of the organizing committee of the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association.

Spread the word: Download the May 1 Rally for Equity at UA flyer to share with your colleagues.

More ways to support equity for adjuncts:
  • Wear red to campus in support of adjunct equity on May 1.
  • Wear a scarlet ‘A’ as well
  • Post the scarlet ‘A’ on your office door and/or car window.
  • Upload the scarlet ‘A’ as your Facebook profile photo.
  • Take a photo of yourself and your colleagues in your red and/or wearing your scarlet ‘A’ and post on Twitter using these hashtags: #adjunct #mayday #OPTFA and on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Share this news, links and messages of support on Facebook and Twitter, using these hashtags: #adjunct #mayday #OPTFA and on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Join our Ohio Adjunct Listserv to share news and stay informed on issues and events.
For more information: Email optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

 

Learn about other OPTFA events, including our April 24 and 28 meetings.

FYI: Facts about UA Part-time Faculty

  • Number of first and second year courses (000-200) taught by part- time faculty in the 2010-2011 academic year: 3,770
  • Number of first and second year courses (000-200) taught by full-time faculty in the 2010-2011 academic year: 2,324
  • Total number of part-time faculty in the 2010-2011 AY: 1,503
  • Total number of full-time faculty in the 2010-2011 AY: 806
  • Average annual pay rate for a part-time faculty member of the highest rank (senior lecturer) teaching a 4/3 load (21 credit hours): $20,038
  • Average annual pay rate for a full-time tenure-track faculty member of the lowest rank (assistant professor) teaching a 4/3 load or less: $62,745
  • Percentage of faculty salary budget devoted to part-time faculty, who make up more than 60% of all faculty: 15%
  • Most important issue for part-time faculty, according to a 2012 survey: better pay, securing full-time employment
  • Issues that cause the greatest dissatisfaction among part-time faculty, according to the same survey: low pay, lack of health insurance, the two-tiered faculty system

Sign the White House petition to prevent adjunct cuts

The White House website includes a petition that asks higher education to explore all options in an effort to prevent them from cutting adjunct and contingency faculty hours to circumvent the intentions of the Affordable Care Act.

By April 26, 100,000 signatures are needed, so please sign the petition today. Then share it via email and social media.

UA limits part-timers to 8-credit workload, BJ reports

UA limiting part-time hours to avoid health-care costs, may boost workload of others

By Carol Biliczky
Beacon Journal staff writer

Published: April 5, 2013 – 11:50 PM

A budget deficit and fear of rising costs under the Affordable Care Act are prompting the University of Akron to limit the number of hours that part-time faculty can teach. Read the full story.

Tell us how your college or university is responding to the Affordable Care Act

If you are adjunct faculty at an Ohio college or university who has received an email, a letter Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 3.49.14 PMor some other communication informing you of your institution’s policy regarding the number of credit hours you will be permitted to teach in the future, we invite you to forward that information to the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association by emailing us at optfa@newfacultymajority.info.

The communication from your institution may or may not admit that the information being shared is in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates that as of Jan. 1, 2014, large employers must provide health insurance for employees who work 30 hours per week or more.

But the fact is that colleges and universities throughout the country are cutting the workloads of adjuncts in response to this new regulation, and their actions are contrary to the intent of the new law.

Determining work hours for adjunct faculty

Determining work hours presents another problem. A recent IRS ruling has determined “that failing to take into account grading and prep is not reasonable” when it comes to adding up employee hours.

Yet when calculating the number of hours that adjunct faculty spend in preparation for their courses and in grading student work, some institutions are applying a formula that is inappropriately standardized, according to Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority.

For all of these reasons, the OPTFA is collecting information about the response of Ohio institutions to the ACA. And we will take that data with us to Washington, D.C. for the April 23 hearing on this issue held by the IRS and the Treasury Department.

Ohio institutions respond to the ACA

ysu memoInitially, five Ohio institutions, Youngstown State UniversityStark State College in North Canton, Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Baldwin Wallace University and Kent State University, acted to limit the number of classes adjuncts can teach in order to ensure that the schools will not be mandated to provide health insurance for adjunct faculty. And other institutions are working to formulate a response to the ACA.

Additional institutions, the University of Akron and Cuyahoga Community College, have also communicated their intent to limit the number of courses adjunct faculty can teach, beginning in fall 2013.

Adjuncts at Stark State received a memo in which they were told that “in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.”

YSU is restricting part-time employees, including adjunct professors and lecturers, to 29 hours a week or less, according to an email sent to English department adjuncts. That translates to a maximum of a 12-credit course load per academic year.

As of July 1, part-time faculty loads at Lakeland will be adjusted “to comply with the requirements of the act,” according to a March 19, 2013, email sent to part-time faculty. And Kent State, where 65 percent of classes are taught by adjunct faculty, is limiting part-timers to 29 credits per academic year.

Baldwin-Wallace, which employs as many as 225 adjuncts a semester, held a recent meeting for department chairs at which the institutional response to the ACA was shared. As a result, adjuncts who teach in the English Department received a March 27 email stating that as of this fall, adjuncts will be limited to teaching “no more than 3 composition sections each semester…as a result of the coming of Obamacare, which requires that employers provide health benefits for any employees working 30 hours a week or more.”

At Sinclair Community College in Dayton, administrators estimate that health care costs could increase by up to $4.2 million if they provide health care benefits to the 423 part-time employees, including 191 adjuncts, who could qualify for coverage, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Other colleges around the state are seeking legal advice about how they should respond to ACA mandates. Cleveland State and the Northeast Ohio Medical University are among 11 tax-supported universities statewide that have asked the state attorney general to assign special counsel for health care, according to a recent story in the Akron Beacon Journal.

IRS collects public comments, will hold hearing; media respond

The Department of the Treasury and the IRS collected 380 comments on the issue of Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage (REG-138006-12) and will hold an April 23, 2013, public hearing on the matter as well, at which OPTFA and NFM will present the data we collect. A comment from David Wilder, Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee of OPTFA and comments from NFM were among the 380 collected.

Counting Adjuncts’ Hours,” a March 26 story in Inside Higher Ed, reported on two different proposals for counting faculty work hours. The American Council on Education, representing the nation’s nonprofit and public colleges, wants the work of adjuncts compared to that of non-tenure-track faculty. NFM argues that the fairer comparison is between tenure-track faculty and adjuncts because the latter often advise students and provide service to the institution.

An essay published in Inside Higher Ed on the same day asserts that, “More than two-thirds of the faculty providing instruction in nonprofit higher education are currently employed off the tenure track, and their numbers continue to rise.”

The authors call upon institutions to create new solutions to the problem of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty, because “our failure to acknowledge and address the changing faculty, we have made it unnecessarily difficult for a majority of the faculty to do their jobs.”

And in “Emotional Labor and Ethical Hiring Practices in Academia,” Gwendolyn Beetham makes a plea for ethical practices in academic hiring.

Ohio colleges’ and universities’ written responses to adjunct faculty about the Affordable Care Act
Updated 26 March 2013
Updated 27 March 2013
Updated 15 April 2013