Sat03252017

Last updateWed, 22 Mar 2017 3pm

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Are Adjuncts Paid Too Little?

Underpaid at MonmouthIn fall 2015, the University hired 71 adjuncts, capping the total number of part-time faculty at 352 members. Some feel that adjuncts at the University are underpaid, and that an increase in adjunct salaries would mirror their value.

“More than most universities, Monmouth dramatically underpays their adjuncts. Our adjuncts are devoted teachers, but too many are forced by the low pay to spread their efforts across many students at other institutions and jobs to try to earn a living wage. The University should not be profiting on the backs of poorly paid colleagues to avoid hiring more full-time tenure-track faculty,” said Katherine Parkin, the President of the Faculty Association of Monmouth University (FAMCO).

According to Christine L. Benol, Vice Provost for Planning and Decision Support, “The average fall 2015 adjunct compensation at the University calculated across the entire spectrum of adjuncts is $2,637 per 3-credit course,” she said.

Adjuncts are part-time professors, lecturers or instructors that are hired by colleges and universities to teach one or more classes per semester. They usually don’t have a campus office, get few benefits and have little job security. Moreover, they are not eligible for tenure.

“Investing in our faculty is a cornerstone of our strategic plan, and critical to our continued academic growth as a University,” said Laura J. Moriarty, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

John Morano, a professor of communication, compared the University’s average adjunct salary to that of other universities. He said, “I saw an ad from Montclair State looking for a communication adjunct professor and their rate of pay was $3,900 for a 3 credit course. If we are paying in the neighborhood of $2,500 and you were an adjunct, where would you go, would you want to be paid $2,500 or $3,900? What that means is not that our people are not wonderful but that any of the better people will likely go where there is more money. So we are not trying to hire the best, and that is not good for our students,” he said.

According to nj.com, Rutgers University has between 1,600 to 1,700 part-time lecturers, and they are guaranteed a minimum of about $4,800 per class. Adjuncts at most New Jersey community colleges can average $3,000 or more per class.

Alongside the 71 new hired adjuncts, the University also hired 22 full-time faculty members. The total number of full-time faculty as of fall 2015 is now 289. When comparing the average compensation of adjuncts to that of full-time faculty the numbers are significantly dissimilar. “The 2015-16 average of academic year salary for the full-time teaching faculty calculated across all faculty ranks and across a wide range of longevity is $83,274,” said Benol.

“I think many adjuncts would love to submerge themselves in their teaching. However, some don’t because they can’t afford to,” said Britney Wade, a senior journalism student. “I find it really disconcerting to think that I make more than the average adjunct working part-time at Sunglass Hut,” she said.

Between fall 2014 and fall 2015, 74 adjuncts stopped working at the University. This may show that the longevity of an adjunct’s placement at the University is short-lived. “If an adjunct works for a short time students are unable to build the same type of long lasting connections with adjunct professors as they would with a full-time Professor whose job is secured throughout their full University experience,” said Wade.

Some students however, think that dedicated adjuncts can maintain lasting relationships with their students. “I’ve had adjuncts that would give out their personal cell phone numbers, and give students opportunities to meet up with them outside of class. Such adjuncts are able to uphold relationships with students even if they move on from the University,” said Christopher Lambiase, a graduate student studying homeland security.

 According to Fisher, adjuncts in the Political Science Department are expected to work a maximum of 26 hours per 3 credit course. Parkins believes that the maximum work hours of many departments do not correlate with the reality of what it takes to effectively teach. “That [maximum work hours] does not include any potential ‘over time’, which could include things such as preparing the syllabus, ordering books, departmental meetings, or trying to find parking as they race between jobs,” she said.

“Adjunct faculty members offer valuable perspectives to our students as many are experienced professionals within their fields and bring very current experiential learning into the classroom,” said Moriarty.

 “As somewhat of a “seasoned” adjunct prior to arriving at Monmouth University, when I juggled various courses, I did try to spend more time and energy in courses that paid more. I felt that was only fair.  Adjunct professors like those in full time positions, do spend a lot of time and energy trying to teach the course to the best of their ability. In addition, there are many adjuncts that bring in guest speakers, organize and participate in community wide events.  Compensating them at a higher rate will not only benefit the adjunct professor, but it will benefit the students and the university community on a whole, as it will likely provide a stronger incentive for greater teaching and participation,” said Catherine Bartch a political science instructor.

As an adjunct Fisher does not assert that she is on the same level as a full-time professor. “I would not say that an adjunct is equal to a full-time faculty member. For example, I do not have that maximum amount of education that qualifies me to be an authority on any one particular subject,” said Fisher.

Members of the university community think that part-time faculty at the university are undervalued. “Adjuncts may not be equal in academia as experienced professors, but they are crucial members of this institutions, and they deserve to be paid more,” said Wade.

IMAGE TAKEN from theodysseyonline.com

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