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Fri Apr 24, 2015, 11:42 AM

$15,000 Per Course is Fair

Faculty Join Fast Food in the Fight for $15

Justin Miller April 16, 2015


On campuses across the country, adjunct professors are starting to organize against rock-bottom pay and tenuous job security.

As yesterday’s Fight for $15 protests wound to a close across the country, it’s become clear that this movement is not a fleeting effort—it’s here to stay. The focal point has primarily been on the most visible low-wage workers...However, another employment sector that’s not typically associated with low wages was prominent yesterday as well: the American professoriate.

Higher education institutions in the United States employ more than a million adjunct professors. This new faculty majority, about 70 percent of the faculty workforce, is doing the heavy lifting of academic instruction. These are positions with tenuous job security (often semester-by-semester), sparse instructional resources, limited academic freedom, and meager wages—the average working adjunct makes around $3,000 per three-credit course. An astounding 20 percent of part-time adjunct faculty rely on government assistance, according to a recent report from NBC News.

...While fast food workers called for $15 an hour, adjuncts rallied for a base pay of $15,000 per course—an aspirational standard initiated by SEIU’s new Faculty Forward campaign.

https://prospect.org/article/faculty-join-fast-food-fight-15


The Fight For 15--- $15 Per Hour AND $15,000 Per Course

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply $15,000 Per Course is Fair (Original post)
JimDandy Apr 2015 OP
PoliticAverse Apr 2015 #1
rogerashton Apr 2015 #2
phil89 Apr 2015 #3
Erich Bloodaxe BSN Apr 2015 #5
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #7
Erich Bloodaxe BSN Apr 2015 #8
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #10
central scrutinizer Apr 2015 #4
Sanity Claws Apr 2015 #28
JimDandy Apr 2015 #6
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #9
JimDandy Apr 2015 #11
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #18
JimDandy Apr 2015 #19
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #24
enlightenment Apr 2015 #14
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #25
JaneyVee Apr 2015 #12
TeamPooka Apr 2015 #13
JimDandy Apr 2015 #17
Vattel Apr 2015 #15
JimDandy Apr 2015 #16
bornskeptic Apr 2015 #27
Lydia Leftcoast Apr 2015 #20
JimDandy Apr 2015 #21
Thespian2 Apr 2015 #22
JimDandy Apr 2015 #23
Thespian2 Apr 2015 #26
prairierose Apr 2015 #29
aikoaiko Apr 2015 #30
Starry Messenger Apr 2015 #32
Bad Thoughts Apr 2015 #33
rogerashton Apr 2015 #31
PoliticAverse May 2015 #34

Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 11:48 AM

1. What is the per-hour equivalent of the "$15,000 per course" they are asking? n/t

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:01 PM

2. Assuming 9 hours per week

(3 in class and 6 in prep/grading) and a 15 week semester, that's roughly $100 per hour. Similarly $3000 per course is about $20 per hour.

This should be compared with pay for expert consulting, and I am considered way cheap at $2000/day, i.e. about $300 per hour. Not that I get much of that kind of work -- I only do it if it is fun anyway. Real consultants expect more as it is nofunatall.

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Response to rogerashton (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:08 PM

3. 45k for teaching a 3 credit hour course?

 

What planet are you from again?

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Response to rogerashton (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:21 PM

5. You wrote 100/hr where I think you mean 10/hr. nt

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Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:31 PM

7. I think its $100+ and its never going to happen unless someone is a rare expert.


hourly rate = $15000/(9x15) = $111.11

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:34 PM

8. I received a 15k a year stipend as a grad student

on top of tuition being paid, and only taught a single course each semester. I wasn't exactly a rare expert.

(Edit, of course, that would be easier to understand if I'd mentioned what tuition was running at that point. Where I went, I think it was around 4-5k a semester. So my total reimbursement wasn't quite the 30k as if I'd been paid 15k a course, but it also covered summer tuition, which got me over the 2/3 mark. And that was as a grad student, not a professor of any type.)

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Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #8)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:39 PM

10. So did I, but the work was for GA and not adjunct/part-time faculty.

My GA was for 20 hours per week not 9.

I was also expected to not work elsewhere. I was expected to produce publishable research.

Its not really the same thing.

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:11 PM

4. A semester is usually 15 weeks long

But an instructor will do a lot of prep a couple of weeks before and has to grade final exams and papers afterward, so maybe 18 weeks. Prep for lectures, class time, office hours, writing and grading homework, quizzes, exams, papers during the term. May also be committee work required by the department. All that considered, maybe $20-$23 per hour. And he or she likely does not have benefits so has to buy health insurance out of that.

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Response to central scrutinizer (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:20 PM

28. Also has to do research and reading to stay current

and to publish.

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:30 PM

6. It's equivalent is better likened to a salary-based employee.

Adjuncts often are given only 1 or 2 courses to teach--that would be $15,000 to $30,000 total per semester ($30-000 to $60,000 per year). And it has to cover everything, because adjuncts receive no benefits: no healthcare for themselves or their family members and no pensions. It has to cover all the hours they consult with students (often with no office space provided to them), grade papers, and develop course outlines, assignments and tests. And those that teach the basic courses like Biology 101 often have an auditorium-filled number of students to manage.

Just as an estimate though, I can easily see an adjunct with a 2 course load working about 30 hours per week instructing, consulting and preparing for those courses, which is the very low end of the "full-time" work scale.

I don't know how an adjunct with 2 courses to teach current manages to live on pay of $3,000/course...even with food stamps.





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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 12:37 PM

9. $15K per course is way too high.


That's roughly $111/hr and probably more than most full professors make on an hourly wage when the 9-month contract is broken down).

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #9)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 01:16 PM

11. No...it's $62.50/hr...and with ZERO benefits.

for an adjunct teaching (2) three-credit-hour courses per semester (work equivalent of about 30 hrs/week). $30,000/(16 weeks/semester x 30 hrs) = $62.50/hr

So, deduct the ObamaCare premiums for all members in the adjunct's family from that, and also deduct from that the pension match a tenured professor receives and you can see that the value the adjunct professor (who is probably also paying off student loans for his/her graduate level degree) is actually getting is a lot less than $62.50/hr even.

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Response to JimDandy (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:27 PM

18. A 3-credit course is generally not 15 hours of work per week. This is part-time work.

You're scaling this pay way above most full professor pay.

Do you have any experience in academics?

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #18)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:31 PM

19. Close family...not self.

Teachers and text book authors among them.

And, again, with everything accounted for (prep time etc) and deducted (ObamaCare premiums) that I mentioned in earlier posts, this amount reflects a per hour pay below tenured professors.

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Response to JimDandy (Reply #19)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:03 PM

24. Let me break it down from someone who is closer than you.


At most 4 year schools, tenure-track assistant profs are making $50K - 60K initially and $80K - $100K at full prof.

http://www.cupahr.org/surveys/files/salary2015/FHE4-2015-Executive-Summary.pdf

[IMG][/IMG]

On a 9-month schedule (36 weeks and 40 hours per week), the new prof at $60K is making $41/hr and at $100K the full prof is making $69 before subtracting health and other fees. At the universities where I have worked, the faculty are working on 15-credit hour work load where credit-hours are reassigned for scholarly or service activities. Another way of looking at it, is that a non-tenure track full-time lecturer teachers 5 3-credit courses within the 40 hours. Those lecturers generally get paid less than incoming tenure-track faculty. From this calculation, a lecturer gets about 8 hours per course (3 in lecture and 5 outside). Practices vary at different universities, but what I've described is common.

By your guidelines of 15K per course, someone teaching 5 courses a semester would make $90 over 9 months without any of the additional responsibilities of tenure track academic rank.

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #9)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 01:31 PM

14. They are positioning that figure as

an aspirational standard, not a reality. It is designed to trigger conversation (see: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/02/09/union-sets-aspirational-goal-adjunct-pay) but I think they're making a mistake doing it.

I'm an adjunct - though I think this semester is my last because I can't continue to live like this - and I don't think the conversation is going to go the way they want it to go - note the direction this brief thread has turned in short order.

Most people aren't going to see the point behind using the figure. They're going to see "$15,000 per course" and come unglued - particularly with the focus on the cost of higher education.

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Response to enlightenment (Reply #14)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:05 PM

25. I guess so, but its bizarrely high.

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 01:25 PM

12. College should be like $5.

 

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 01:25 PM

13. there's more to it than just the time in class lecturing. Student meetings, grading papers...

course prep. This is stuff that doesn't happen during class hours and it's why we are talking about living wages. Living wages means they can live while they teach and work. for the entire length of the course.
Can you live for 15 weeks on 3K?

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Response to TeamPooka (Reply #13)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:22 PM

17. Exactly.

It is impossible for one person, let alone a family of 3 (living wage) to survive on, hence the need for food stamps. What a wretched situation.

My cousin was given only 1 course to teach the last time around. She couldn't do it any more...she's now retired, living on social security and teaching community classes at her leisure and on her time schedule, which she enjoys so much more.

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 01:45 PM

15. $15K would be ridiculously high. Depending on where the adjunct teaches, $5K seems about right

 

Nearly everyone in any academic department at any university in the USA prefers full-time tenure track positions to adjunct positions (except when the adjunct position is a means of supporting and training its own grad students). To save money many universities have gravitated more towards adjunct or CNTT (continuing non-tenure track) positions or both. If the pay for an adjunct becomes too high, then adjunct positions will be replaced by full-time positions, which would be great. The higher the pay the fewer adjunct positions there will be, and I am all for that. In the real world, though, even $10K is not gonna happen any time soon in most places.

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Response to Vattel (Reply #15)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:08 PM

16. $15,000/course is just above a living wage...

A living wage is what Democrats are working for...not just for the McDonalds and Wally World employees, but for all workers. See post #11 for the explanation.

Adjuncts already often work minimum full-time (30 hrs/week)...they just don't reap the benefits of it.

A living wage is the amount it would take to sustain the worker plus 2 of his/her dependents wherever they live. $5,000/course is not a living wage anywhere. Your $10,000 figure is, in some places. $15,000 is a living wage in NYC, but it should be the standard because an adjunct had to pay for 2 higher education degrees to get the teaching position, and they are worth that!

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Response to JimDandy (Reply #16)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:11 PM

27. $150,000 a year is just above a living wage?

I teach 9 or 10 three hour courses a year. I'm not an adjunct, but I'm not tenured either. Most years I have to wait until a week or so before classes start in the Fall to find out if I'm going to have a contract. My pay, including benefits, comes to about $6000 per course. I think I should get at least $8000, but $15,000 is far beyond anything I've ever aspired to. I'd be getting more than any of the tenured faculty in my department other than the Chair. Of course, they don't teach more than three or four courses. Still, I know I'm extremely fortunate compared to adjuncts. They should probably be making at least as much per course as I make now.

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:42 PM

20. When I was an adjunct, I worked, as I said then, 2/3 time for 1/3 time money and no benefits

In those days, beginning full-time assistant professors, who taught three to four courses per semester, were making about $1800 a month (35 years ago). I was making $600 a month.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #20)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:47 PM

21. It is outrageous that 70% of the teaching load is carried by adjuncts.

So many other things in the adjunct hiring situation need to be fixed in addition to the base pay.

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:52 PM

22. Anyone here actually work as an adjunct?

In Virginia (2000), I was paid $750 per course...2 courses = $1500...benefits = $0...hours per week = 14...hours worked away from the college = 20...total hours = 510

Total pay without benefits = $2.95 per hour

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Response to Thespian2 (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 02:58 PM

23. That is terrible! Hopefully more adjuncts start weighing in.

How did you survive on that?

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Response to JimDandy (Reply #23)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:11 PM

26. I was already retired...

I knew some people who held adjunct jobs at 3 universities and still only eked out a bare living.

In graduate school at U of H, I took two classes and taught two classes...I was paid $4000 per year.
My girl-friend supported us.

A student, paying exorbitant fees, will not necessarily be taught by experienced professors.

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Response to Thespian2 (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:30 PM

29. That's about right..and...

though you are talking about the past, it is still that way for most adjuncts.

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Response to Thespian2 (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 03:43 PM

30. yes. It was in the 1990s. It was just to gain experience.

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Response to Thespian2 (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 05:03 PM

32. I do. Due to my union, I make just under $30k a year for teaching 2 courses each semester.

This is about enough to be able to afford to live in your car in the SF bay area, but fortunately my spouse has a better job.

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Response to Thespian2 (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 05:17 PM

33. I currently earn $4500/course as an adjunct

Luckily, I've been teaching what the university considers a "double-sized" course, so they pay me $9000. Unfortunately, I have no TA with whom to work, so when the grading hits, it hits hard.

How much do I work: I'm on campus 3 hrs for teaching and 3hrs for office hours. I review materials for another 6-8 hours. Grading (4 times per semester) takes me an additional 6-12 hours. Those numbers would be higher if they were two separate courses. I receive no benefit (I'll get charge deeply if I show up at the university's hospital, which is SHIP only), so I rely on my wife's health insurance. I get charged for parking, taken from my paycheck.

And of course, I have no security. The university doesn't need me next semester, but might in the Spring.

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Fri Apr 24, 2015, 04:58 PM

31. I double-checked my math --

$111.11 per hour. But, of course, that is no better than the assumptions. The "2 hours of preparation out of class for every hour in" is a traditional standard but makes sense only for an elementary course. And, if we are billing by the hour, $100 per hour does not seem to me unrealistic for a person with doctorate-level preparation. However --

In many universities, a full-time prof is expected to teach four courses a term (with no expectation of publications) and perform some service. So that makes 4*9=36 hours teaching and 4 hours in committee meetings=40 hours. That's the basis of the nine hours per week number. One of my correspondents, and a user of my textbook, taught 5 courses and coached the basketball team, but I think coaching was part of his compensation, not his workload. I messaged "At least there's no heavy lifting." He messaged "I carried two boxes of textbooks up to the fifth floor for my class today."

Anyway. a position like that could pay from 40,000 to 150,000 depending on field and seniority, plus benefits which will probably be equivalent to no less than one-sixth of the base; thus, roughly, 6000 to 20000 per course. If research and publication are expected, the teaching load will usually be less, sometimes much less.

Real world: I'm doing two courses this quarter, each four credits, four hours per week. In one, the one for which I wrote a textbook, I can probably slide by with 4 hours of prep and grading, though of course I have invested a lot of hours in it in the past. For the other, 6 hours a week meeting students is realistic, plus about ten a week reading and correcting papers. Twenty hours a week if I am lucky. And the committees! And I am expected to do some publishable research.

To make a living as an adjunct, though, a person will have to find positions at several institutions. No pay for driving time. Adjuncts usually don't have offices. The office is the trunk of the car. Meeting with students? Well, I know some that meet with their students in the coffee shop, but honestly, it isn't expected. Grading can be kept to a minimum by using the multiple choice questions that are provided at the support website for the textbook, but the students can download the answers -- and they do, we have data on this -- and this is the sort of standard that the universities are paying for, at best. Of course, some adjuncts sacrifice themselves to much longer hours to do the job, and some adjuncts bring to the course their professional experience, as, for example, a librarian teaching in a library science program. But -- here's my point -- the reliance on adjuncts is at the same time exploiting vulnerable workers and swindling students.

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Response to JimDandy (Original post)

Wed May 6, 2015, 12:42 PM

34. Related: Connecticut man earns more money working at a grocery store than as a college professor

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