Tag Archive for part-time faculty

Class Cancellations: Lost Learning, Lost Earning

‘Tis the season of class cancellations:  that time when college students and adjunct profs discover that all of their preparations for the semester have been for naught, as “low enrollments” or the administrative need to fill full-time faculty schedules trumps both the right of students to enroll in the classes they need and the right of adjunct professors to earn wages for the work they have done and made time in their schedules to do.

As “contingent” or “at whim” workers, adjunct faculty are asked to commit to teaching classes and are expected to shrug their shoulders when the classes are cancelled, often at the last minute and in spite of all of the preparation they may have done (and not been paid for).  At Tri-C, adjunct faculty are often not notified of class cancellations until the very last minute. Are they compensated for the time they have put into preparing?  Not unless *all* of their classes are cancelled — and if that condition is met, they are paid all of $50.00 (Yes, that’s correct, fifty) for their time and trouble. And that’s generous; other colleges and universities in Ohio pay nothing.

Is this the way to treat professionals who already donate the extra time their students need them to spend on their teaching and mentoring because the college refuses to “invest in people” (in the words of the Tri-C Foundation’s motto) who serve as adjunct faculty? For many adjuncts, this cancellation policy is not only disrespectful, but it can have destructive ripple effects.  If an adjunct suddenly loses a course she was planning to teach, she is losing income she was depending on and that she invested significant time into earning. She may have refused other, more lucrative opportunities because she thought the commitment to the class was mutually felt by the college.  She may find herself suddenly unable to pay rent, a mortgage, or for childcare or healthcare. Is this “cura personalis” — what Jesuit institutions like John Carroll University promote as the ethic of “care for the whole person”?

Last-minute course cancellations, with their disrespect of adjuncts’ time and lost income, are only a small fraction of the indignity and injustice that adjunct faculty at Tri-C and other Ohio colleges and universities endure on a regular basis.  Consider too that the practice is self-defeating in a practical sense; it sours potential new faculty on teaching and on the college, promoting the college’s reputation as an undesirable employer and denying students access to good new instructors. Failure to pay adjunct faculty a fair course cancellation fee for the time they have put into preparing for a class that is canceled or taken away is unethical and undermines the college’s community-oriented mission.Share your stories of course cancellation in the comments below. How has losing a class affected you, or anyone else around you? Anonymous posts OK.

Two meetings for adjuncts at YSU

YSU Part Time Faculty Association 2013 Fall General Meetings and Open House

Who: For All Limited Service Instructors. We have no dues, just come.

When:  Monday, Sept. 23, or  Tuesday, Sept. 24   Take your pick.


6:30 p.m. – Welcome and Open House Format

7 p.m. – Presentation: Update on what we have been up to since spring and preview our survey

7:30  p.m. – Continue open house till 8:30

Where:   Coffelt-Pugsley Rooms,  Kilcawley Center, on the YSU campus

For  information or just to indicate some interest, contact Jim Zupanic, Limited instructor in Engineering Technology, at jczupanic@ysu.edu or jczupanic@yahoo.com

Visit ysuparttimefaculty.blogspot.com

UA has no system in place for requirement that adjuncts track hours

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:

hours text

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.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 11.03.07 PM

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 hiring process

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.”

UA grad rate

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.

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.”

OPTFA meets Wednesday in Mentor

Spring semester is over, but OPTFA is not taking a summer break. Join us for our May meeting as we take advantage of the momentum we built using our May Day Rally for Equity, our social media campaigns via Twitter and Facebook, and our involvement in the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education‘s 5th Meeting last weekend in Columbus.

OPTFA usually meets on the fourth Wednesday and fourth Sunday of each month, but due to the Memorial Day weekend, we will meet only at noon on Wednesday, May 22, this month. We will not meet on Sunday.

OPTFA May Meeting: Join us in person, online or by phone

  • Wednesday, May 22, noon. See in person, online, or telephone options below.
Join the Wednesday, May 22, meeting at noon in person

Location: Panera on Mentor’s east side, 9587 Mentor Ave. Mentor, OH. Get directions.

Agenda: TBA

RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info

Join the Wednesday, May 22, meeting at noon online or by phone

Join the meeting online: Visit https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/896295253 and log in using Meeting ID: 896-295-253. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended. RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info

Join the meeting by phone: Call in using your telephone. Dial +1 (510) 201-0301. Access Code: 896-295-253. Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting. RSVP: to optfa@newfacultymajority.info