Adjunct professors receive little benefits and low salaries

By Liz Lavin
April 24, 2008

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of teachers work as adjunct instructors. Adjuncts are teachers who work part-time for small salary with no benefits. ?At Cabrini, adjuncts are heavily relied on and are expected to work for very little money and with very little chance of moving up to become a full-time, tenured faculty member.

Of a faculty of 201 at Cabrini, 65 are full-time and 136 are adjuncts, meaning that almost 70 percent of the faculty at Cabrini does not receive benefits or a full salary.

Some departments have experienced difficulty hiring adjuncts because of the low salary Cabrini offers.

At Cabrini, the part-time faculty is paid between $1,900 and $2,300 per course.

“At this point, we’re having a hard time finding adjuncts because they’re getting paid better at other schools,” philosophy professor Dr. Sharon Schwarze said.

Schwarze conducted her own survey about adjuncts in the late ’90s. She found that Cabrini has used a higher amount of adjuncts than neighboring institutions and has not seen the problem change since the survey was conducted.

Dr. Cynthia Halpern, romance languages professor, said that relying on adjuncts and not paying them well is a generic problem.

“Anyone would be foolish to say we want all full-time faculty,” Halpern said. “It’s not a Cabrini phenomenon, it’s pretty much standard. Everyone relies on adjuncts, even big universities. It’s not specific to Cabrini.”

The problem of the small salary is also nationwide, Halpern said.

“In general, I don’t think teachers are paid well,” she said. “Our country overpays athletes and underpays teachers.”

Compared to some other schools, Cabrini pays a smaller salary, which may not be surprising to some people, like Jeanne Brody, chair of the adjunct faculty committee at Villanova University. Brody says smaller schools in the Philadelphia area pay much less than the salary recommended by the American Association of University Professors.

Cabrini does not publish their adjunct salaries or adjunct salary statistics, such as when, or if, adjuncts recieve raises and how much the raise typically is.

Even if adjuncts go above the required work, they will most likely not see a raise. In addition to their salary being low, there has not been an increase in several years, according to John Heiberger, associate professor of business administration. Each year, adjuncts are falling futher and futher behind.

“What’s appropriate, I don’t know,” Schwarze said about a solution. She does feel that”we need more full-time faculty and we need to pay our adjuncts more. We’re exploiting these poor souls.”

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Liz Lavin

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