The times are changing for adjunct faculty at CSU.
“Like all universities, Colorado State is fortunate to have an exceptional cadre of adjunct faculty – highly qualified women and men who bring a wealth of insight and experience to our classrooms, and allow us to provide the courses and curriculum essential to meeting student demand. And they want what all of us want from our employers: some job security, decent pay and benefits, opportunities for advancement, and above all else, respect,” said Tony Frank at the Fall Address.
Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the average income of an adjunct has fallen to $2,700 per course, less than $25,000 per year. According to President Maria Maisto of New Faculty Majority, who spoke at CSU regarding higher education equity, this is to prevent colleges and universities from having to provide benefits.
“Since last October, adjunct faculty have seen their course loads cut or their work redefined so that colleges and universities can avoid providing the majority them with health benefits under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” stated Maisto in an email. “It is now below poverty level and adjuncts still receive no health benefits.”
According to Dan Bush, vice president for Faculty Affairs, CSU currently employs 1,600 faculty: 1,000 of which are tenure track with the remaining 600 adjuncts.
“For most (adjuncts), they teach quite a few classes and it is a fairly substantial income that they can absolutely live off of and then its a career path,” Bush said.
There seems to be a discrepancy between where the university is with treating adjunct faculty and where they think they are.
“What’s frustrating is that this semester we needed a new adjunct person and they wouldn’t let me have another class even though I have experience, but they were willing to hire a new person that had never taught before because they said I couldn’t make anymore money,” said Pam Bishop, key advisor and adjunct faculty for the School of Social Work.
Students pay the same tuition for classes taught by tenure-track faculty as they do for classes taught by non-tenure track full and part-time faculty.
Adjunct faculty Dr. John Gandy, distinguished professor emeritus, believes that they are not appreciated and taken for granted.
“I’ve got real issues with how adjuncts are treated here. It really is disturbing. Again, I’ve been doing this for forty-four years, I’ve never worked in a place where adjuncts are treated so poorly,” Gandy said. “They’re so focused on research that I think people are really lost in ways of the importance of teaching, the importance of being in the classroom, the importance of students. Thats what most adjuncts do is classroom teaching and I’m just not sure thats priority anymore. But I agree with the president, he’s exactly right and I think its wonderful its just I’ve heard it before.”
New legislature has given CSU the power to allow contracts between adjunct faculty as well as Senior Teaching Appointments, which recognizes outstanding teachers.
“The picture I am trying to paint is that there’s a broad spectrum of how adjuncts fit into the mission of the university and there are many of them that are full-time and we are trying to do our to make it a career path where they have stability and funding and the expectations for teaching and there are some unique situations where people might only be hired for one class or maybe two without the expectation that they’ll be hired again in the future,” Bush said.
Both Gandy and Bishop agree with Frank’s mission, but are skeptical of tangible change.
“I feel like he’s doing his best to deliver the promises but its not always in his hands because if he says he wants to do this there are so many layers: provosts and deans,” Bishop said.
“They (adjuncts) love to teach and they love students, but they’re not treated well,” Gandy said.
Collegian Reporter Cassandra Whelihan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.