by Logan Sachon
February 4th, 2013
Karen Gregory is an adjuct professor at CUNY, and the syllabus for her introduction to labor studies course includes a section on what being an adjunct means, means, exactly. Her full explanation is below, but to start, here’s a fact from Inside Higher Ed:[bold] If an adjunct teaches four courses per semester, they will make “$21,600 annually, compared to starting tenure-track salaries that average $66,000,[/bold] according to data from the American Association of University Professors.” Highlights from Gregory’s syllabus:
• “CUNY presently employs 6,541 full-time faculty, counselors, and librarians. Despite record breaking enrollment, that is 4,512 fewer of such positions that it provided in 1972.”
• “Adjuncts are not regular members of the faculty; we are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom.[bold]We are not paid to advise students, grade papers, or prepare materials or lectures for class. [/bold]We are paid for one office hour per week for all of the classes we teach. We are not paid to communicate with students outside of class or write letters of recommendation. Out of dedication to our students, adjuncts regularly perform such tasks, but it is essentially volunteer labor.”
•[bold] “To ensure that we remain conscious of the adjunctification of CUNY, we ask that you do not call us ‘Professor.’ [/bold]We are hired as adjunct lecturers and it is important that you remember that. You deserve to be taught by properly compensated professors whose full attention is to teaching and scholarship.”
ETA: On Twitter, Gregory has clarified that a group of CUNY adjuncts wrote the text together and that it appears on many syllabi!
Adjuncts always give out harsh grades. I always avoided adjuncts for that very reason.
That's nice r2 but in most schools, these days, students CAN'T avoid adjuncts because there's more of them teaching that one to two finally credit necessity than available tenured Profs.
Ex: English 101: Tenured Profs; 2. Adjuncts 4. The tenured classes get swept up quick the rest of the students are STUCK with adjunct.
I'm not knocking the teachers, a fresh adjunct can be just as good and in some ways better than the occasional tired old tenured Prof who doesn't give a shit anymore but this article points out some harsh truths. The adjunct position was never meant to be relied on as a replacement of full time tenured profs. It's an abuse of labor that is happening everywhere.
This is the same as Walmart or Starbucks hiring 15 2 hour shift workers as opposed to a decent, experienced and invested full-time staff of 4 or 5.
That is NOT the experience for adjuncts everywhere. Some adjuncts are paid much more handsomely. Not the same as full professors but still. CUNY is fucked up. It all depends upon the college and the geography. "Abuse of labor" is a harsh term. If you have unhappy faculty (adjunct or not), the quality of the education suffers, morale suffers and the environment is toxic. Who the hell wants THAT? If a college administration cannot fix that problem then they all should be fired.
Too many people going to grad school, with too few jobs waiting on the other side = too many adjuncts.
I have a humble service job in the computer lab at the local state university library. It's always the adjuncts who identify themselves to me as "Professor So-and-So," whereas full-time faculty and deans just say call themselves "Bob."
The adjunct situation is horrible. However some schools treat their adjuncts very well -- pay them decently (I made $5800/quarter per class for a simple course), include them in dept. meetings and professional development (and pay them to attend), and give them yearly contracts so that they can plan.
Another reason why, even as a New Yorker myself, I would never attend school here, or send my kids to school here.
This fucking city is a cesspool with everything so controlled and corrupted by unions or a union mentality that's bordering on third world.
Unfortunately, R4, public college administrators generally have to work within the constraints of government funding. I don't know the details of the current state and city budget proposals, but I'm sure CUNY (and SUNY) are not getting any major increases in funding. Hopefully the money from increased tuition actually goes back to the schools; after one increase in the past I think they were directed to a general state fund.
CUNY is increasingly reaching out to private donors. For some campuses and programs, that's great; Eliot Spitzer's dad gave millions to City College's architecture school. However, the community colleges and lesser ranked senior colleges probably don't attract as much private funding so they have to make do with their public funding.
r8 you are totally full of shit. there is no adjunct on the planet who has a package like you describe.
I went to Hunter and we never called the adjuncts "Professor." We called them by their first name if they didn't have a doc. If they had a doc, we called them "Doctor."
I guess mine is not the usual situation, though. We were all working people and older than the HS kids. In grad school, we even called our professors by their first name.
I had an adjunct break down and cry when she didn't get rehired. She was an excellent teacher, but she was sabotaged by (literally) the politics of some of the recent emigre students. She said she spent 3 miserable years at a high priced private college where students spent more money on spring break than she made in 3 years. She said when she came to Hunter and assigned homework, she couldn't believe it when all of the students actually had done the homework and wanted to discuss it and learn more about it. She'd never taught in a place where the majority of students were there to actually learn.
Then came the émigrés......
The author should go back to English class. CUNY "currently" employs, not presently.
Too many "abd"s floating around, feeling bitter.
r13, would you please discuss the problem with the emigres? Are you referring to foriegn students or people hired to teach. I would really like to know more about this. I have had some unpleasant experiences with both groups. I'd like to know more about your situation.
I absolutely agree that adjuncts are overwhelmingly exploited in higher education, but after clicking through to Karen Gregory's actual (online) syllabus, it appears she's a PhD candidate in the sociology department at the university. In other words, she's not qualified to be a tenure track-faculty member right now. I suspect that the course in question is a funding opportunity that the department extended to her. Even if it isn't, without the adjuct/lecturer system, she wouldn't have any opportunity for teaching experience or earning income at the college level with her current qualifications.
Adjucting is the worst when a qualified candidate for tenure track is forced to take a job with low pay and no security. For those yet to be qualified, however, it can provide a valuable opportunities for teaching. Should it come with a higher stipend to match actual cost of living? Absolutely. But the pay is low because the qualifications are low--the same as in any other industry. It seems strange that a PhD candidate would so harshly critique the system that funds her when she has no other opportunities based on her current level of training.
Then again, it is a course on labor, so maybe she felt compelled to include it...
Im an adjunct professor at a state school in Virginia and that sounds about right. 20-24,000 for a full-time adjunct, with no assurance of being full-time, no benefits, no insurance. And I have my PhD in hand.
We are expected to have a hour of office hours for each three hour class we teach. Otherwise we technically have fewer demands placed on us within the department, but any adjunct knows that if he or she wants to get a full-time job, he or she better volunteer his or her ass off on campus.
Oh, and adjuncts typically get the intro classes with 35 students per class, while the full-timers get the upper-level classes with fewer students, sometimes 12 or fewer.
Adjuncts also teach four classes, while tenure-track only teach three. So we adjuncts have tons more students, which means less time to pursue research, which means fewer chances for advancement.
"20-24,000 for a full-time adjunct, with no assurance of being full-time"
That's because "adjunct" isn't supposed to be a full-time job. It's meant for people who have other full-time jobs who also teach a part-time course, whether it be for a little extra money, as a service or as a line on a resume. It brings in someone with real-world skills to meet students. When it is expanded so that it involves a force of full-time low-wagers who do nothing else, it is exploitative of the school, foolish of the person who takes the job, and unfortunate for the students.
I agree with you, r20, except that that's the way the world works and there is very little all the PhDs being churned out can do about it.
R21, I agree. That's why there should be fewer PhDs churned out.
R8? Are you at a PASSHE school?
You're way overpaid compared to most schools. Get down on your knees and thank your union.
It's a bad situation -- some of my best profs have been adjuncts, and I was honored to called them professor and angry they were not being paid fairly.
Get over it.
That is ridiculously low pay. I teach three adjunct courses at a Tier 1 University in the South and make $40K just for that. And I have a full time professional job as well. Having no income taxes of any kind here, that's good pay for the work I put in, and I do work hard. I don't teach for the money, but it seems to me the "bleeding hearts" in academia in New York are really taking advantage.
"My department has 14 adjuncts/non-TT instructors. All are tremendous teachers and each brings valuable skills and unique life experiences to the classroom. But, not one of them is even remotely qualified for a TT job at my school.
A TT job is about research -- high quality research.
As a TT faculty member, I only spend a small fraction of my work week on classes.
Teaching is less than 1/5 of my job. And, honestly, it is the easiest part of my week.
So, unless one of those 14 adjuncts is schlepping my research materials around, writing my papers or doing grant proposals for me, it is hard to see how they are carrying me on their backs.
I am amazed that so many people can spend so many years in an academic environment and still be so clueless about the nature of the profession."
r23, we're not unionized. It's a Catholic university. They just happen to pay well. Of course, I'm in a STEM area so that does, and should, pay better. But it is horrible what some schools pay.
[quote]"that is 4,512 fewer of such positions that it provided in 1972.”
Agree or disagree with the following:
The Post World War II era in the US was an exceptional time. For most of human history and in most places, people slaved away at menial jobs for pitiful payment. As unjust as this 'adjunct' situation is (and it is unjust), it's rather mild when considered in the course of human history.
We're witnessing a post-boom adjustment back to the heartlessly exploitative, normal course of human affairs here and across the board in the US.
What an ungrateful fucking cunt. She's lucky to have a fucking job.
I never called my teachers professor. I always called them "perfesser."
I'm taking some classes and my current school has far more adjuncts than my initial college, where all the profs were tenured (this was 10+ years ago).
This explains why several of them didn't want me to call them "professor."
Sadly this is in many lines of business...it's the same reason why newspapers/magazines hire freelancers. A non-employee and contract worker doesn't have to be paid for all their time, and doesn't have to be paid health benefits, insurance, 401K etc.
We have no unions whatsoever but the pay here is so much better than OP's. And I agree adjuncts know they aren't in the tenure race - who wants to be? In my area, there are very real academics who have the experience to teach the subjects needed for the special majors we offer.
Nevertheless, it's not a right to teach anywhere, and anyone who knowingly gets into that situation and then complains really ought to consider other options.
[quote]This explains why several of them didn't want me to call them "professor."
I would think they would WANT to be called professor, at least have some prestige to go along with their low pay job.
My public university has three tiers: tenure track, General Faculty, and Single Course Faculty.
SCF (adjuncts) are paid approximately $5K for a 3-credit class (no benefits). Some of them teach one class per year, others teach one class every term. There is no expectation to advise or serve on any committees.
GF generally teach 3 courses per term, advise, and serve on committees. They have multi-year contracts and have no requirements to do research; their focus is teaching and service.
Some professors don't even like to be called professor.
I'm tenured at one university and teach a course as an adjunct in another university. Few of us stress the professor title. Mostly b/c both colleges I'm speaking of have an abundance of 'nontraditional' students (i.e. adult learners, people returning to college after trying out other colleges and having careers, those interested in taking a class for their own self-actualization instead of degree, etc).
The university I teach as an adjunct has very few full time faculty/tenured professors. The majority of the classes are taught by adjuncts. Doesn't mean we aren't committed to our students. That's the case with many of my colleagues who are adjuncts. They are doing this for love of teaching, facilitating personal and professional growth, not as a full time job depending on that meager pay. Grad students who are working on the PhD and are adjuncts for the time being are presumably doing it for experience. Looking at it as a 'career' is not feasible.
I'm not sure if CUNY is set up exactly the same way, but while SUNY adjuncts don't make much in salary, those teaching two courses per semester (and some teaching one high-enrollment course designated as double) are eligible for health insurance.
Several people I know who have worked as SUNY adjuncts upstate are very open about doing it primarily for the benefits and also maybe because they enjoy teaching, but not for the paycheck.
Yeah, you can get health benefits at CUNY and some people do it for that reason. You also pay into a retirement fund.
This is what "higher education" is all about these days. That, and students who hate reading.
I can't believe how stupid many of the students are at my college.
I can't believe how many professors make it really easy for them.