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Fri Sep 20, 2013, 03:28 AM

Duquesne disputes claims over death of adjunct professor [View all]

Last edited Fri Sep 20, 2013, 09:14 AM - Edit history (1)

This discussion thread was locked as off-topic by azurnoir (a host of the Latest Breaking News forum).

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An op-ed piece Wednesday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recounting the death of a longtime Duquesne University adjunct professor fueled online anger nationally over conditions facing low-paid temporary instructors but was criticized by the school as misleading and exploitative.

The column involved Margaret Mary Vojtko, 83, who taught French at Duquesne University for 25 years before being let go this spring. After she died Sept. 1, Daniel Kovalik, senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers, the union currently in a fight to organize adjunct instructors at Duquesne, wrote the piece.

Mr. Kovalik wrote of the near-homeless woman's battle with cancer, of her struggles as a semester-to-semester hire earning as little as $10,000 a year, and of her death following a heart attack not long after losing her job with no severance or retirement benefits.

Online, the column went viral, attracting more than 171,000 page views on the newspaper's website, 50,000-plus Facebook likes and almost 1,500 comments from readers across the U.S. and overseas

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/duquesne-disputes-claims-over-death-of-adjunct-professor-704143/

My comment to the PG on this article:
Duquesne's provision of housing translates to letting her spend a "few weeks" in an all male house with a priest and undergraduate seminarians. Kind of Father Walsh to offer that, but hardly appropriate for a frail 83 year old female. I doubt he cleared that with the university in advance - the legal dept. would have had serious concerns re liability issues. Were those few weeks during last winter when she couldn't afford to have her furnace repaired so was working nights at Eat 'n Park and trying to sleep during the day in a heated university office - until reported to the campus police and thrown out of the building?

Duquesne has operated out of pure, and very un-Christian greed in this matter. Witness other, far more prestigious and higher ranked Catholic universities have strongly supported unionization of adjunct professors. The original article describes Georgetown, a Jesuit university: "This would be news to Georgetown University -- one of only two Catholic universities to make U.S. News & World Report's list of top 25 universities -- which just recognized its adjunct professors' union, citing the Catholic Church's social justice teachings, which favor labor unions."

And I received the following comment from an adjunct professor at the Jesuit University of San Francisco: "I teach at a Jesuit university, we have a really strong union, which the admin encouraged.As adjuncts we have decent hourly pay and for those who are at the preferred level (experience, good reviews, and a formal application), medical insurance, retirement benefits and a 23% higher pay rate. One is still not guaranteed employment from semester to semester, which is about par for the course in modern day America. In spite of that, this seems to be the most stable, reliable employment I've ever enjoyed. Duquesne sounds like something straight out of Dickens."

If Duquesne's concern is saving money, why not replace it's current lay president, raking in $700,000 per year plus benefits, with a . . . wait for it . . . priest! They do still take vows of poverty and that would save Duquesne well over half a million per year right there. It is supremely ironic that the current president sits on UPMC-Mercy's board of directors and heads the board's Ethics Committee. That's the hospital dunning Miss Vojtko for the portion of her cancer treatment bills not covered by Medicare. Duquesne & UPMC - two "non-profits" serving(?) the community! Charles Dickens weeps.

The only bright light in this story is for Penn State's administration - now replaced in the news by Duquesne as the most reviled university in the Commonwealth.

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Reply Duquesne disputes claims over death of adjunct professor [View all]
Divernan Sep 2013 OP
another_liberal Sep 2013 #1
dotymed Sep 2013 #2
Divernan Sep 2013 #3
Gidney N Cloyd Sep 2013 #5
Divernan Sep 2013 #7
beerandjesus Sep 2013 #4
NJCher Sep 2013 #6
azurnoir Sep 2013 #8