Being an Adjunct

adjunct CUNY

Being self-employed, I didn’t think I had too much to offer in discussions about making hourly wages into living wages but then I read about the death of a long-time, part-time professor at Duquesne.

Margaret Mary Vojtko had been teaching French at Duquesne for twenty-five years. As a part-time professor, she earning about $10,000 a year, had no health insurance and no retirement benefits. She amassed high medical bills because of cancer and died on September 1st at the age of 83, destitute and nearly homeless.

Today, adjunct professors (of which I am one) make up 75 percent of college instructors, with the average pay between $20,000 and $25,000 annually if teaching fulltime. About three-quarters of us say we are interested in having a tenure-track job, but about 70 percent are teaching just one or two courses at the median pay of $2,400 per course with a master’s degree. One-third of contingent faculty has been teaching on a temporary basis at least 10 years.

We need a union. 13.8 percent of adjunct faculty on non-union campuses gets health benefits, compared to 34.3 percent of contingent faculty in unions. And while 27.5 percent of non-union contingent faculty members get retirement benefits, 60.1 percent of contingents on union campuses do.

Maria Maisto, of New Faculty Majority which is dedicated to improving the quality of higher education by advancing professional equity and securing academic freedom for all adjunct and contingent faculty said the answer is simple: Pay college presidents and coaches less, and part-time professors more.

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