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A Snapshot Survey of Adjunct Compensation

Published by Anna Everson — one month ago

Blog: Colleges
Tags: Erasmus blog WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON, United States

College Leaders' Salaries Rise Again but What About Adjunct Pay? 

Granted, higher education, in general, isn't an endeavor that will make one rich, and as most familiar with the adjunct world of higher ed know all too well, part-time teaching even at a top university won't provide a hefty paycheck. Yet with college leaders bringing home $500,000-plus annually, one wonders what the compensation satisfaction is among adjuncts who toil for far less at the same schools?


Surveying Satisfaction 

With that question in mind, this writer sought to survey adjuncts whose presidents brought home top figures in 2007-08. Unfortunately, though, most adjuncts this writer managed to locate meaning those who teach at the top-10 public colleges where presidents were listed as the highest paid didn't reply to interview requests about their compensation/satisfaction levels or politely declined to be interviewed on the record. 

A handful, however, including one newcomer and one veteran adjunct with years of service to the same university, agreed to weigh in on the record. And for the most part, they seemed to feel that they're adequately compensated for their teaching efforts. In fact, one University of Delaware adjunct reported that, in his own humble opinion, his current pay of "a little over $4,000" for one course per semester "is better than adequate." 

Indeed, this UD English adjunct, per an e-mail interview on the condition of anonymity, was the single highest-paid adjunct located. And if his compensation is reflective of others at UD, then President David P. Roselle who, with an annual compensation of $874,687, was ranked as the No. 1 highest-paid public university leader in The Chronicle's survey is one who believes in greasing all possible wheels, including among the adjunct set. 

Full-time Effort for Part-Time Pay 

Still, as "high" as one's adjunct compensation might seem from the outset, is, say, $1,400 per month for a semester long class really an adequate rate of compensation for the time, preparation and expertise required for an adjunct to teach the course? 

Bill Fleischman, who's served as an adjunct professor at UD for two decades-plus, said in a telephone interview that when he first signed on to teach, he had no idea he'd continue to do it for as long as he has, but the people and culture have made it worthwhile. 

"When I started teaching at UD in the early 1980s, I never expected to continue this long," said Fleischman, who enjoys interacting with his journalism students and takes pride in their accomplishments, especially when they land real-world newspaper jobs. 

Typically, Fleischman teaches courses in Sports Writing and Copy Editing and Page Design, both of which "require a lot of preparation and I have to grade a lot of papers," he added. "(And) I have too many students almost every semester 27 to 29 in Copy Editing and Page Design." 

No Insurance, No Parking: No Surprise 

Not surprisingly, those adjuncts surveyed whose leaders were among the highest paid didn't have any benefits to speak of, including no insurance or parking passes provided for them. On the plus side, though, each part-time educator who responded expressed no hesitation in declaring that his or her academic contributions were valued by others in the workplace. 

Although most adjuncts surveyed for this article seemed OK with the compensation they receive for teaching never minding that their school leaders are bringing home the bacon in a big way it was apparent some longed for increased pay, but felt helpless in securing. 

"I do wish professors would get paid more," admitted one part-time educator at the University of Washington, where President Mark A. Emmert is the highest-paid public university leader, per The Chronicle's survey. "It's all relative, though, and I'm at the bottom of the pack, so I don't feel entitled to be paid more," he concluded. 

Nevertheless, with the number of adjuncts in academe doubling since 1995, per a Nov. 20, 2018, report in the International Herald Tribune, it's clearly cost-effective for U.S. colleges to keep recruiting, and retaining, such faculty on their rolls.

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