Posts Tagged ‘professors’


Special mention



Special mention

5b78f8d821e33.image  hanging_on__paolo_lombardi

[ht: ja]

If there’s one area that isn’t contributing to higher college costs and historic levels of student debt, it’s faculty salaries—especially the pay received by adjunct professors.

According to Caroline Fredrickson,

In 1969, almost 80 percent of college faculty members were tenure or tenure track. Today, the numbers have essentially flipped, with two-thirds of faculty now non-tenure and half of those working only part-time, often with several different teaching jobs. . .

To say that these are low-wage jobs is an understatement. Based on data from the American Community Survey, 31 percent of part-time faculty are living near or below the federal poverty line. And, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, one in four families of part-time faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program like food stamps and Medicaid or qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Known as the “Homeless Prof,” Mary-Faith Cerasoli teaches romance languages and prepares her courses in friends’ apartments when she can crash on a couch, or in her car when the friends can’t take her in. When a student asked to meet with her during office hours, she responded, “Sure, it’s the Pontiac Vibe parked on Stewart Avenue.”


Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day. Adjunct professors on campuses across the country hope to draw attention to their poverty-level wages, with no chance of advancing to a tenure-track position.



According to an extensive crowd-sourced survey of adjunct working conditions conducted in 2012 by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce,

Adjuncts don’t make much money, they receive little support in terms of professional development from the institutions where they teach, and most would accept a full-time tenure-track position if it were offered to them.

As Karen Hildebrand, an adjunct professor at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, explains,

This National Adjunct Walkout Day aims to help adjuncts achieve parity with full-time faculty – better pay, job security, equality in professional development opportunities, etc.

But there are two things about this day that are pretty basic to how we treat each other and how we view the world.

First, hiring people as adjuncts sets a very bad example to college students. That’s not the way to treat people.

Instead of signaling “Get used to it – this is the world you will inhabit, we will use you, wring everything we can out of you and throw you out,” educators should be signaling, “Young College Graduate – we will help you make the world a better place.”

Second, this thing of paying substandard salaries to teachers is a victimization of people who love what they do.

Ask any musician or actor how many times she or he has been asked to donate a free performance. After all, to the people hiring them, it’s not real work – it’s fun! It seems people who love what they do are punished for it.

Parents tell their children, “Get a degree in something you love – but make sure you can make a living from it.”

Following that logic, teaching is one of the things that you shouldn’t get a degree in.


Good news! The campaign of protests against the unwarranted budget cuts at the University of Southern Maine has been successful:

University of Southern Maine President Theodora Kalikow has reversed the 12 faculty layoffs that prompted weeks of protests, saying she’s open to alternative plans for finding up to $14 million in cuts.

However, at least at this point, it appears the victory is still only partial and incomplete:

When asked if the faculty members might still be laid off if alternate cuts are not found, Kalikow said they would not. However, she did not reverse the decision to eliminate about 30 staff positions. . .

Still scheduled to be closed are three academic programs: the American and New England studies graduate program, geosciences, and the arts and humanities major at Lewiston-Auburn College, which is part of USM. If those programs are eliminated, seven professors will be laid off.


And, while we’re at it, more good news: UPS is going to rehire the 250 Queens drivers [ht: sm] who lost their jobs in late March for participating in a 90-minute walk-out to protest the firing of union activist and longtime employee Jairo Reyes.

“We have sent a clear message to corporate America that firing workers en masse for minor workplace disagreements is unacceptable,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, who had warned UPS that its large state contract and city perks could be jeopardized if it didn’t negotiate with the union. The drivers will, however, have to accept some lost wages: As part of the agreement, they will all serve a two-week suspension, which means giving up about $2,560 each.


As March Madness comes to a close,* let’s turn to the same AAUP report to look at spending priorities in today’s university.

As we have documented in recent editions of this report, full-time faculty salaries have generally been stagnant for the last several years. We examined above how changes in faculty pay have compared to salary increases for senior administrators. Here we compare changes in median compensation for full professors to those for head coaches of men’s athletic teams in Division I, in a sampling of both “revenue-generating” and non-revenue-generating sports. The period covered spans 2005–06 to 2011–12, which includes the recession during which many faculty members were told that budgets were tight and raises were unavailable.

As figure 5 illustrates, by far the largest increases in compensation during this time period went to coaches—and not only in “major” sports. The median D1-A men’s basketball coach saw his pay increase by more than 100 percent, after inflation. D1-A football coaches scored slightly less, with a median compensation increase of 93 percent. But even coaches in so-called “minor sports” such as cross country, track, golf, soccer, and tennis racked up increases in their compensation packages that far exceeded those earned by full professors across all four institutional types. The lowest-scoring coaches, in cross country and track at D1-AA universities, saw their real compensation increase by 9 percent over these six years, which is more than double the 4 percent increase earned by the median full professors at doctoral universities. In contrast to the coaches, full professors at associate’s degree colleges actually experienced a loss in their compensation of 5 percent between 2005–06 and 2011–12.

Remember, also, that very few schools have athletic programs generate enough revenues to finance themselves as well as other sports.

The NCAA collects annual data on revenues and expenses of athletics programs from its member institutions.In the reports for 2012, of the more than one thousand college and university members of the NCAA, only twenty-three institutions reported that their athletic programs ran a surplus, with revenues greater than expenses. Those twenty-three institutions were all in D1-A. The NCAA includes the following revenue sources in its reporting: payments for the rights to broadcast games through television, radio, or the Internet; contributions from individual and corporate donors; program and novelty sales; parking; sponsorships; ticket sales; sports-camp revenues; endowment and investment income; NCAA conference distributions; and direct institutional support. Even when all these sources of revenue are included, the NCAA reports that the median institutional subsidy in 2012 accounted for 27.5 percent of the athletics program budget in D1-A, 73.0 percent in D1-AA, and 81.7 percent in D1-AAA.


*A period that has been a real problem for someone like me, who teaches at, was raised in the same state as, or has good friends who work at the four schools in the women’s and men’s Finals. That’s a lot of hoops to watch!


According to the American Association of University Professors, in Losing Focus, its latest annual report on the economic status of the profession,

Figure 2 compares thirty-five years of data on administrative salaries from the CUPA-HR Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey cited above with faculty salary data collected by the AAUP. It would have been preferable to disaggregate the analysis into more specific institutional categories, but that level of data on administrative salaries was not available. In the data from public institutions, the increases in median salary paid to four senior administrative positions were at least 39 percent after controlling for inflation, with the increase in presidential (“chief executive officer” in the parlance of the report) salary much greater at 75 percent. By contrast, and probably not surprising to regular readers of this report, the cumulative increases in mean salary for full-time faculty members were mostly less than half as great. The same pattern held in the private-independent sector, although the rates of increase for all positions there were larger. Median presidential salary jumped 171 percent above the rate of inflation, and the other three administrative salaries increased at least 97 percent, while the uptick in mean salaries for full-time faculty members reached only 50 percent or less. . .

As the longer-term analysis in figure 2 also shows, salaries for presidents in recent years have generally increased more rapidly than those of other administrators, reflecting greater concentration of authority in a single “CEO.”. . .But across all institutional categories, the average increases in administrative salaries are greater—in most cases, much greater—than those for full-time faculty members. The contrast is especially sharp at the private master’s degree universities, with senior administrators receiving double-digit increases while average faculty salaries stagnate or decline. . .

Some commentators have argued that the outsized and rapidly rising salaries paid to many presidents, especially, have only a trivial impact on institutional budgets that may amount to hundreds of millions (or even billions) of dollars annually. While that may be true from an accounting standpoint, the salaries paid to senior administrators are highly symbolic. As we have argued previously, they serve as a concrete indication of the priorities accorded to the various components of the institution by its governing board and campus leadership. Disproportionate salary increases at the top also reflect the abandonment of centuries-old models of shared campus governance, which have increasingly been replaced by more corporate managerial approaches that emphasize the “bottom line.”



The new “Issue Brief” for the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes of Research [pdf] demonstrates what all of us in the field have been seeing over the course of the past decade: colleges and universities have continued to hire new faculty members but most of the increase is from the growing use of part-time faculty, especially at public institutions. Even at private institutions, where full-time faculty have grown (but still less than the growth of part-time and contingent faculty), the number of full-time professors on short-term contracts has increased dramatically.

As the number of part-time instructors grows, job security continues to erode among full-time faculty. Academics today are less likely than a decade ago to have tenure, hold a tenure-track position, or be full professors. Although tenure systems are a mainstay at research universities and public master’s institutions, they have become less prevalent at other public and private institutions. The proportion of tenured faculty has declined across the board, even in sectors with nearly universal access to tenure systems. In 2012, less than half of full-time instructional staff at public and private four-year institutions held tenure, a decline of 4 to 5 percentage points since 2000. And among full-time faculty, the share of “professors” declined by more than 4 percentage points since 2003, as adjuncts and other contingent faculty were increasingly at the lectern.


Spring-semester classes are back in session and, once again, class is rearing its ugly head.

Both the New York Times and NBC News [ht: ja] have stories about the sorry plight of adjunct—nontenured, non-tenure-track—professors. Poor pay, no benefits, fundamental insecurity about where and how many courses they’re able to teach. All after having spent years studying for a doctorate in their chosen subjects.

But permit me to challenge the interpretation according to which the class divide we’re talking about is between the minority of full-time, tenured or tenure-track professors and the majority of adjunct professors. Yes, it’s a sorry spectacle when fully employed professors ignore the situation of their adjunct colleagues. Even worse when they hold strongly to a belief in a meritocracy, according to which “adjuncts are lesser versions of themselves.”

The problem is, the real people making the decisions to hire so many adjunct professors and to pay them a pittance in per-course wages are not other professors but the administrators and trustees of the new corporate university. They’re the ones setting the budgets and determining how profitable their nonprofit educational businesses will be. Adjuncts are the low-paid workers who produce the educational commodity the new corporate university—both public and private—is selling.

That’s the real class divide we should be concerned about as, once again, classes resume.