Archive for Working conditions
Two hits for adjuncts on Monday, Feb. 3: a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Adjuncts Gain Traction With Congressional Attention,” and another on NPR’s All Things Considered titled “Part-Time Professors Demand Higher Pay; Will Colleges Listen?”
The NPR story by Claudio Sanchez featured the adjunct situation in Ohio, specifically at the University of Akron and Cuyahoga Community College. And the Chronicle story will be followed up with a Chronicle Chat on adjunct issues on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. Visit the page to participate in the chat and submit your questions.
Meanwhile, Monday’s stories, which quoted adjunct leaders from OPTFA and New Faculty Majority, prompted messages of support around the Web. Here are just a few:
- I’m glad the issues of adjunct justice are finally reaching the wider media as they’ve so closely touched our lives and the lives of many colleagues and friends.
- Indeed the situation is at a crisis, as you…well know. Those of us who are lucky enough to have found a solid berth must keep the issue alive.
- What the story doesn’t report is the chasm between many administrators and rank-and-file tenured faculty: the latter often support equitable treatment of adjuncts. The Ohio provost’s reference to higher faculty pay leading to higher college costs is absurd. Anyone in higher ed knows how much money is wasted on high profile projects & new buildings & (no surprise here) administrators’ salaries which often run into a quarter of a million a year or more.
- What a thing to listen to – and are parents hearing this, I wonder? So many who love teaching lost to the profession in a money-driven culture.
- This is not news to those of us who have been adjuncts for years. At the New School, I can add up what the students are paying and what I’m getting paid. It makes for some amusing math. And we have a union. But that didn’t prevent the school from offering fewer classes – another way of paying us less.
- Glad awareness is being raised.
Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, appeared live on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC last Saturday, Nov. 30. She was part of a panel discussion on how universities and colleges treat adjunct professors.
Read the story, “Off the Tenure Track, Part-time Professors Face Low Pay, Negligible Job Security,” and watch the two video components, including the eight-minute video of the panel discussion that included Maria and three other advocates for adjunct faculty.
Note that the video does not include the final minutes of the panel in which Maisto answered Harris-Perry’s question about what parents, students and tenured faculty can do to promote equity for adjuncts.
Note: The deadline for sharing your adjunct story with Congress has been extended to Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) has followed up on what he told Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, he would do at the Nov. 14 House Committee on Education and the Workforce
hearing on “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities” at which she testified last week: begin deeper investigation into adjunct faculty working conditions by collecting stories and information through an e-forum.
Rep. Miller, the senior Democratic member on the committee, has set up an eForum on the Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty in Higher Education and is asking adjunct faculty to submit their stories by Dec. 20. This is a tremendous opportunity to share stories about your experiences as a contingent faculty member, including working conditions, compensation, benefits, opportunities for growth and advancement, job stability, and administrative and professional support. Rep. Miller is also interested in your views concerning how these conditions affect your career, your students and higher education in general.
Please submit your stories and circulate this information far and wide so that we can continue to educate our national leaders about the urgent need for action on the contingent faculty crisis.
Comments or excerpts sent may be posted on the Education and Workforce Democrats website in the coming weeks, submitted to the congressional record, and/or used in a report issued by Education and Workforce Democrats on any findings from the eForum. Names of individuals submitting comments will not be published without permission, according to the website.
The media release issued by Rep. Miller’s office on Nov. 19 is copied below.
Miller Announces eForum on Adjunct Faculty in Higher Education
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today announced an eForum to investigate how an increased reliance on contingent faculty by colleges and universities nationwide has impacted the lives of faculty as well as students’ higher education.
“This eForum is an opportunity for adjuncts and other contingent faculty to inform the Congress about what’s happening on the ground with higher education. I think there is a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world,” said Rep. Miller. Rep. Miller raised the idea of an internet forum for receiving adjuncts’ stories and comments at a committee hearing last week.
“We should all be alarmed about what’s been happening to higher education labor over the last couple decades,” Rep. Miller later elaborated. “Tuition keeps skyrocketing. Yet the people doing the bulk of the work educating college students are getting less and less compensation. There are adjuncts who make between $2000 and $3000 per course for a semester, with no benefits. There are adjuncts on food stamps. I think the Congress should be taking a serious look at this phenomenon.”
In the last 40 years, there has been a spike in the number of adjunct faculty at colleges and universities as schools look for ways to cut costs. According to some estimates, approximately 75 percent of instructional faculty members are off the tenure track, with the number of part-time faculty increasing at three times the rate of full-time faculty members over the last 15 years. The average contingent faculty makes approximately $2900 per course, approximately 60 percent less than comparable full-time tenure track and tenured faculty, according to the Adjunct Project. Furthermore, only about 22 percent of part-time faculty members are provided some form of benefits.
The purpose of the eForum is to assess the impact of this growing use of contingent faculty. Rep. Miller is interested in hearing from adjunct and other contingent faculty about their job satisfaction and working conditions, and how those conditions affect the state of higher education in this nation.
The eForum can be found on the Committee Democrats website at: http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/eforum
April Freely and Katherine Burke, two members of the Organizing Committee of the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association, are quoted in an Oct. 2 story in the Daily Kent Stater, Part-time faculty face cuts before new health care law.
The story describes Kent State’s response to the Affordable Care Act, which involves a combination of cuts to adjunct course loads as well as increasing the number of full-time appointments by combining adjunct positions, according to KSU administrators.
Last year, more than 50 percent of Kent State’s faculty members at both the Kent and regional campuses were adjuncts, the story notes.
I have felt very alone in this. I don’t feel that there is anybody that I can turn to that has my interests as an adjunct in mind. – Jennifer Ray-Tomacek
Margaret Mary Vojtko, 83, died of a stress-related heart attack on Sept. 1 after being fired from her position as an adjunct professor at Duquesne University where she taught French for 25 years. At the time of her death, she was living in poverty and without health benefits. Since then, her story has gone viral, along with the hashtag #iammargaretmary.
In a Sept. 30 interview on Lynn Cullen Live, Dan Kovalik, author of the personal piece, talks about the worldwide impact of Professor Vojtko’s story, why adjuncts need to unionize, and Duquesne’s response to its adjuncts’ efforts to do so.
Read coverage of the story in other media outlets
Pittsburgh City Paper. Adjunct Mary Margaret Vojtko’s death raises questions on college campuses all across Pittsburgh. Oct. 2, 2013
The Street. College costs soar while adjunct faculty head to pauper’s grave. Oct. 2, 2013
CNN. Adjunct professors are the new working poor. Sept. 24, 2013
Opposing Views. Former Duquesne University Professor Margaret Mary Vojtko’s Death Reveals Plight Of Adjunct Faculty. Sept. 23, 2013
Yahoo. Should adjunct professors be paid more? Sept. 23, 2013
NPR. The Sad Death Of An Adjunct Professor Sparks A Labor Debate. Sept. 22, 2013
Inside Higher Education. #iammargaretmary. Sept. 19, 2013
Huff-Post College. Woman Who Taught At College For Decades Dies Making Reportedly Less Than $25,000 A Year. Sept. 19, 2013
Chronicle of Higher Education. An adjunct’s death becomes a rallying cry for many in academe. Sept. 19, 2013
Margaret Mary Vojtko, 83, died of a stress-related heart attack on Sept. 1 after being fired from her position as an adjunct professor at Duquesne University where she taught French for 25 years. At the time of her death, she was living in poverty and without health benefits.
Question: How many full-time students at the University of Akron have to fork over nearly $10K in annual tuition and fees this fall to cover the salaries of the institution’s 50 highest paid administrators? Answer: 1,040.
At $9,734 a pop, it takes the tuition of roughly five percent of the university’s 20,547 full-time students (according to fall 2012 enrollment figures) to pay the $10,127,487 a year that UA’s top 50 administrators earn. That figure covers just the salaries for their 12-month contracts. Bonuses, retirement benefits, health benefits and other perks are additional.
The problem is called administrative bloat. And according to the U.S. Department of Education, about $1,000 to $5,000 per student, per year is spent on administration costs. That’s roughly six to 14 percent of a pupil’s annual tuition bill.
Diversity, pay equity issues
However, when one analyzes the UA data, another issue appears. Only about 15 percent of those in the top 50 at UA are women, and the top 10 earners are all men.
These facts raise questions regarding UA’s record on diversity and gender-based pay disparity, although the institution touts its commitment to “creating a framework for excellence that incorporates diversity at its core.”
Top 10 earners at UA:
- Luis A. Proenza, president, $500,000, effective Jan. 1, 2014. This amount does not include $125K in bonuses.
- William Sherman, provost, $291,600. Sherman retired and was rehired this summer and will collect his STRS benefits, along with his salary. See the full list of UA employees who retired since 1999 and were rehired, thus double dipping by simultaneously collecting both a pension and a salary.
- Stephen Z. D. Cheng, dean, College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, $285,492
- Chand Midah, dean, College of Arts and Sciences, $279,246
- George R. Newkome, vice president, research; dean, graduate school, $266,717
- George K. Haritos, dean, engineering, $264,594
- Thomas Wistrcill, director, athletics, $243,477
- Robert A. Weiss, department chair, polymer engineering, $242,034
- Ravi Krovi, dean, College of Business Administration, $239,789
- David J Cummins, CFO, $236,900
Administrative bloat = increased tuition, student debt, adjunct abuse
Nationwide, tuition and room and board costs at public institutions have increased 42 percent since 2000, while administrative costs have zoomed upward 60 percent. Likewise, the number of administrators on college campuses has grown. By 2008, there were more than twice as many administrators as tenure-track faculty at institutions nationwide.
These statistics have produced a nationwide outcry against the practice, including a Wall Street Journal series on the problems of university systems across the country. It featured a chart detailing how administrative spending boosts college costs.
At the same time as the number of administrators has ballooned, institutions have significantly increased their use of non-tenure-track full-time and poorly paid part-time faculty. UA has the second highest percentage of part-time faculty in Ohio and one of the worst graduation rates in the state at 14 percent.
Less than 40 percent of students nationwide are now taught by tenure or tenure-track professors who earn a wage commensurate with their education and experience. The remaining 60 percent are taught by part-time faculty who make poverty level wages.
Meanwhile, total student debt in the U.S. is approaching $1 trillion, and the average college senior in the U.S. now carries $25,000 in student loan debt at graduation. In Ohio the average is $28,683, seventh-highest in the nation.
Poor pay for the new faculty majority 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. Each of them will earn $9,600 for the 2013-2014 academic year, if they teach six credits per semester. That makes the wages of an adjunct faculty member at UA roughly 50 percent less than that of a fast food worker.
Nationwide, part-time faculty members make an average of $8.90 per hour, despite having earned advanced degrees.
Hours cut to avoid providing health benefits
Always poorly paid, UA adjuncts are in worse shape this academic year. That’s because UA is limiting adjuncts to eight credits per semester to avoid paying health benefits.
However, since most courses at UA are three credits, adjuncts have effectively been cut to six credits per semester or 12 per year.
While the University of Akron has put a new requirement into effect that limits the number of hours part-time faculty can work each week, UA has no system in place for monitoring or reporting those hours — and has not indicated when such a system will be implemented.
Neither does its new requirement take into account the extensive amount of time that part-time faculty spend before the term officially begins — preparing syllabi and other course materials; creating online content; answering queries from students; and attending orientation sessions, training, and departmental meetings.
The new requirement, distributed by email via an attached memo from Laura Moss, assistant director of human resources information services at UA, was sent to vice presidents, deans and department heads on Aug. 1.
It reads in part:
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. Part-time faculty load limits should not exceed eight (8).
This wording is also included on the Personnel Action Form for Part Time Teaching & Summer Session that part-time faculty are required to sign.
UA has limited part-time faculty to eight credit hours per semester in order to avoid providing them with health care, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
No details on how part-time faculty will report work hours
The memo from HR also states that part-time faculty will be required to “begin reporting actual hours worked to their supervisors on November 1, 2013. Additional information on this reporting will be communicated at a later date.”
The memo does not state how that reporting will take place. It does not explain whether part-time faculty will be required to report the “actual hours worked” prior to Nov. 1. And it does not explain what will happen if a part-time faculty member exceeds total allowable hours. For a three-credit course, that limit would be six hours outside the classroom.
Here is a screenshot of this portion of the memo:
Details on part-time faculty earnings
An attachment that accompanied the memo included a chart stipulating minimum pay per credit hour for part-time faculty teaching in three categories: Assistant Lecturer, Associate Lecturer and Senior Lecturer.
For more details about the compensation paid to part-time faculty, download the Excel spreadsheet listing all part-time faculty employed during 2012-2013 academic year, with title/status, department or program, number of credits taught and rate of pay. We received the document as the result of a public records request we submitted to UA.
UA “required” hiring guidelines not applied
UA has also established Part-time Faculty Hiring Guidelines that emphasize the “uniformly required, administrative aspects of the [hiring] procedure. Due to the decentralized nature of the process, hiring units have discretion over the size of search/review committees, advertising venues, and use of additional forms and letters to ensure the highest quality employee is hired.”
The components of the hiring process for part-time faculty, which are seldom applied despite their characterization as being “uniformly required,” include:
UA, “reasonable assurance” and ODJFS
In addition, UA’s human resources department has provided its vice presidents, deans and chairs with a “Reasonable Assurance Memo,” warning them that “failure to give timely reasonable assurance of employment for the next semester can lead to the loss of valued faculty and increased unemployment charges to the department.”
UA’s human resources has also provided a sample memo that chairs and department heads can send to adjuncts in an effort to avoid paying unemployment compensation to part-time faculty who are without work between terms.
UA characterizes the offer of a class for the next term as “reasonable assurance,” despite the fact that the class could be cancelled or reassigned to a full-time faculty member due to lack of enrollment. UA’s characterization — and some Ohio Department of Job and Family Services rulings regarding part-time faculty’s eligibility for unemployment compensation — are contrary to information disseminated by ODJFS. One publication states, “Regardless of whether you are a professional or nonprofessional, if the offer of work is contingent upon sufficient funding or enrollment, you would not have reasonable assurance for the next school year or term.”
Effects on student success
Meanwhile, adjuncts at UA are concerned about the effect these regulations will have on student learning and student success, particularly since UA has recently received extensive publicity regarding its low four-year graduation rate, which at 14 percent is one of the lowest in the state.