The full cost of being part-time faculty

A recent article on NPR’s website tells of adjunct instructor Margaret Mary Vojtko from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. 

After working 25 years in education, Vojtko was “destitute and nearly homeless,” making only $10,000 a year.

Vojtko was attempting to unionize adjunct professors at the university. She died of a heart attack months later.

NPR’s piece shows a disturbing trend in higher education. Adjuncts currently make up roughly 75 percent of college instructors, earning between $20,000-25,000 a year, the article reads.

An article in BusinessWeek shows an even more disturbing trend. While tuition costs soar and more full-time educators are replaced with less-expensive part-time adjuncts, the number of deans and administrators has increased in Purdue and other universities.

“At universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty,” the article reads.

Instructor salaries are declining as “administrative expenses” climb, according to that and other articles.

A cursory evaluation of Oakland University’s transparency report shows Oakland University has thankfully not gone down this path.

A list of employee salaries shows most of them are significantly more than the $20,000-$25,000 listed by the NPR piece.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oakland University’s average instructor salary was above the median, at an average of $56,200 a year, in 2011.

Assistant professors, associate professors and

full-time professors make below the median amounts but still average between $63,700 and $99,300 per year, according to the Chronicle. 

And that survey was performed before the 2012 contract negotiations.

Oakland University is to be commended for not succumbing to the same temptation as other schools in the country. We hope this trend continues.

For most students, the point of college is to learn marketable skills and eventually receive a job that pays a living wage. 

It might shake a student’s confidence to realize the person teaching that skill is not even paid enough to live on.

If teachers are to be considered exemplars – persons who students should look to when determining their own futures – it seems downright scary to know some instructors might be better off working unskilled labor jobs.

We encourage Oakland University to continue fairly compensating its instructors, now and in the future. 

For those of you who plan on transferring to another university for graduate studies or otherwise, we encourage you to look into salaries and compensation. 

Find out what teachers are making, and what benefits they receive. If you find out they aren’t making what you think they should make, inform the school why you’ve opted to learn your trade elsewhere.

Nobody at a school is any more or less important than anyone else. Without students, there would be no teachers. Without teachers, there would be no need for administrators. Without administrators, the college wouldn’t function.

The most important vote you have is your pocketbook. A quality education is easier to attain if instructors are being fairly paid.

Part-time or full-time, teachers deserve fair pay.