Full-time faculty lower than average

By Gina Roswell
November 29, 2001

The percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty lags behind the national liberal arts college average by 20 percent. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “private liberal-arts colleges have the highest percentage of courses for undergraduates taught by full-time faculty (79 percent).” At Cabrini, full-time faculty teaches 59 percent of the courses.

Dr. Sharon Schwarze, chair of the philosophy department, conducted a private study, approximately two years ago, based upon the statistics of the surrounding college communities and their numbers of full-time faculty members. Ursinus College, for example, employs 120 full-time faculty members for 1,171 undergraduate students. Ursinus’s number of full-time faculty contrasts with Cabrini’s of 53 full-time faculty members for 1,281 undergraduate students.

The courses not taught by full-time faculty are taught by a larger percentage of part-time faculty members than found nationally. Cabrini employs 145 part-time faculty members. Generally, full-time professors teach from six to eight classes per year, whereas part-time faculty teach no more than two. Part-time faculty make between $1,800 and $2,200 per course. Therefore, eight courses taught by a part-time faculty members costs between $14,400 and $17,600, whereas a new full-time faculty member teaching the same eight courses starts at $35,000 or more.

Full-time faculty members are expected to more than teach, however. According to Dr. Jonnie Guerra, vice-president for Academic Affairs, “Faculty members are expected to engage in professional development, the advising of students and to work on faculty and institutional committees, as are other faculty members at institutions of our type.”

Schwarze, however, has a slightly different outlook. She feels as though all of these responsibilities are wearing out the full-time faculty on this campus. Granted, she realizes that professors have responsibilities, and she is well-ready to uphold them, but providing more full-time faculty would not only disperse the responsibilities of each individual full-time faculty member, but it would also allow for more “fun” activities to be planned for the students within each department. “There are not enough full-time faculty members for intellectual, creative and curricular activities [to take place on or off campus],” Schwarze said.

According to Schwarze, some full-time professors have 40 advisees, thus preventing the close and personal relationship between students and teachers that Cabrini is known for. Until this year, some of the adjunct faculty members did not even have office space in which meetings with students can take place. They had to resort to discussions before or after class, or the informal communication of e-mailing. This year, all part-time adjuncts were offered office space and phone extensions. Not all of them, however, took the opportunity to utilize this opportunity.

This year, 374 first-time first-year students were admitted to the college. Because of this large number, many course sections were added at the last minute, to be filled by newly hired adjuncts. Statistically, these are the teachers whose chances of receiving the less enticing class times, such as 8:15’s or 7:10’s, are increased. Guerra admits a reduction in numbers of full-time faculty members, but chalks it up to the fact that there were six late resignations at the end of last semester, thus prohibiting the college from filling those positions with qualified full-time faculty members. As a result, part-time adjuncts were hired in hopes of some of them moving up to full-time positions, or merely buying some time to find the right person for the long-term position. “We can’t hire a full-time faculty member without a national search. We can’t have a national search in July,” Guerra said.

Guerra’s goal is to reach the number of full-time faculty members at which this college was last year: 59. Schwarze’s goal is to increase that number still more, and bring Cabrini closer to the national average at which, she believes, it should be.

No matter the reason for the use of more adjuncts over full-time faculty, Guerra and Schwarze both emphasized that adjuncts are certainly an asset to the college, as well as the students, and should not be looked down upon simply because they are not employed as full-time professors.

Cabrini Faculty Facts:

Full-time faculty teaches 59 percent of courses

Cabrini employs 145 part-time faculty members

Part-time faculty make between $1,800 and $2,200 per course

Some full-time professors have 40 advisees

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Gina Roswell

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