MLA research helps the salaries of adjunct faculty members

By Kate Pelusi
March 15, 2001

Salary information for part-time and non-tenure faculty members has been poorly documented over the years.

Recently, the Modern Language Association (MLA) noticed this lack of information.

In 1999, the MLA contacted the 5,245 English and foreign language departments within its college and university database and sent them a survey regarding the salaries and benefits of their adjunct faculty.

Out of the departments that were sent the survey, only 42 percent sent back a completed survey, compared to the usual 90 percent repsonse rate.

An article written by Scott Smallwood for The Chronicle of Higher Education explored the advancements in information that this new survey has started.

Before this survey, no documentation existed on the salaries of part-time faculty members. A college who participated in the survey might be looked upon differently through how well or poorly they treat their part-time faculty in comparison to other schools.

William Pannapacker, an assistant professor of English at Hope College explained that many of the colleges who did not respond might have something to hide.

Harvey Lape, philosophy professor at Cabrini is the chairman of the Adjunct Faculty Board of the faculty senate.

Lape explained that Cabrini’s adjunct faculty salaries are comparable to similar schools such as Immaculata College.

Lape also explained that Cabrini couldn’t be compared to such schools as Bryn Mawr or the University of Pennsylvania because these schools have more luxuries than Cabrini.

Karen Thompson, head of the part-time faculty union at Rutgers University in New Brunswick commented in Smallwood’s article, “Even generating discussion is useful. Its’ always good to stir the pot and give something to stick in front of the face of their administrators.”

The article also offered a very local example. Part-time English instructors make about $2,400 per course at St. Joseph’s and Villanova Universities. The University of Pennsylvania’s part-time staff now earns about $5,000 per course.

Although the survey is very incomplete due to the small percentage that responded, it is new and helpful information for adjunct faculty members.

Lape commented ,”I’m not so sure there are good guys or bad guys, but I would have liked to have seen the survey more complete.”

Lape also said, “Cabrini would sincerely like to help adjunct faculty be more a part of campus.”

Dr. Seth Frechie, English/communications professor at Cabrini, and a member of the MLA, commented that, “I think the MLA is helping the adjunct lobby for better pay.”

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Kate Pelusi

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