Austin Community College members, adjunct faculty scrutinize unequal pay increases

The Austin Community College Board of Trustees.

The Austin Community College Board of Trustees.

The adoption of Austin Community College's $352 million budget on Monday came with what appeared to be across-the-board 3 percent raises for all employees.

But several adjunct professors pointed out that, in fact, many of the adjunct faculty aren't getting a full 3 percent raise thanks to a 2010 board policy amendment that aimed to put adjunct professors on an equal pay scale with full-time faculty but prevents many adjunct faculty members from getting the full 3 percent raise.

"I’m concerned that adjunct faculty doesn't have a compensation plan as equal or structured as our colleagues," said Don Morris, an ACC adjunct professor, at the ACC board of trustees meeting Monday.

'[The policy] is complicated," said CEO and President Richard Rhodes following an hourlong discussion among the board of trustees Monday.

The policy he's referring to states that adjunct faculty's salary increase is proportional to how many credit hours faculty members teach. So if an adjunct professor teaches what is considered a full course load—20.625 credit hours—they receive a full increase of 1.75 percent plus however much the board votes to give in order to address the higher costs of living—in this case, 1.25 percent. This is comparable to the full-time professor's step increase, which is received yearly assuming the professor teaches full time.

If an adjunct faculty member—who, according to ACC policy, is hired on an as-needed basis for direct instruction—does not teach a full course load, the step increase is based on the pay rate per credit hour and the number of credit hours taught, according to the community college's compensation manual.

Some adjunct faculty members have expressed concerns about this for several months, pointing out that adjunct faculty is not compensated for the work it does in the week leading up to the first day of the semester or in the week following the semester's end when grades are due.
"The expectation upon hire [for adjunct faculty] is that you are prepared to teach the course, that you have done the preparations to teach the course and that you have done all your grading and turn it in on time."— Charles Cook, ACC provost and executive vice president for academic affairs

Adjunct Faculty Association President Vanessa Faz said it takes her about a week and a half to develop syllabi, upload student resources to Blackboard—a course management system ACC uses—and generally prepare for the start of the semester, all while not getting compensated.

"That’s a week and a half that I have away from my daughter, my family and my time so I can be ready to go for Day 1," she said.

Neil Vickers, ACC's executive vice president of finance and administration, said full-time faculty members are required to report to work a week before the semester starts, while adjunct faculty members are not.

David Albert, an adjunct professor, said at the board's June meeting that adjunct faculty are paid for 16 weeks of work but work 17.5 weeks a semester.

Traditionally, Rhodes said community colleges pay adjunct faculty one flat rate per credit hour, and those employees receive the full salary increase along with the full-time faculty.

"The expectation upon hire [for adjunct faculty] is that you are prepared to teach the course, that you have done the preparations to teach the course and that you have done all your grading and turn it in on time," said Charles Cook, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "This is common practice throughout higher education at both the university and the community college level."

According to Vickers, about 30 percent of ACC's adjunct faculty members will get the full 3 percent increase because they teach the equivalent of a full-time faculty course load.

He said ACC leads in the amount it pays its adjunct faculty compared to what he calls the "Metro Eight" community colleges in Texas, which include Alamo Community College and Dallas Community College.

A living wage

Part of the 3 percent wage increase was based on a cost-of-living analysis and other economic factors, Vickers said. The study determined an acceptable "living wage" in Austin is $15 an hour, up from $14.23 an hour last year.

An ACC board policy states no employee should be paid less than "the community-accepted level of a 'living wage,'" but as Albert pointed out, even with the 3 percent raise, some employees are still making under $15 an hour.

"I'm really glad that the college has decided to raise its living wage, that’s great," he said. "The problem is, I am concerned that that living wage doesn't seem to actually apply to all employees."

Food workers, for example, make $9.25 an hour, according to ACC's FY 2017 hourly rates by title.

But according to ACC's compensation information manual, living-wage employees are classified as salaried full-time employees.

The discussion raised some concerns among some of the board's newer members, including trustees Sean Hassan and Julie Ann Nitsch.

Hassan called for a more in-depth conversation about the policy, adding that it has been untouched for seven years. He said he also wanted more education around the subject, as he predicted many adjunct faculty members were unaware of the policy and thought they would be getting 3 percent raises.

He said he also wanted more education around the subject, as he predicted many adjunct faculty members were unaware of the policy and thought they would be getting 3 percent raises.

"I think this is a policy that we absolutely need to look into," Nitsch said.
By Marie Albiges

Marie Albiges was the editor for the San Marcos, Buda and Kyle edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covered San Marcos City Council, San Marcos CISD and Hays County Commissioners Court. Marie previously reported for the Central Austin edition. Marie moved to Austin from Williamsburg, Va. in 2016 and was born in France. She has since moved on from Community Impact in May 2018.


A photo of a sign that reads "Dripping Springs Independent School District Administrative Offices."
5 to vie for Dripping Springs ISD trustee seats

Incumbents Barbara Stroud and Ron Jones will vie with three challengers to maintain their seats on the board in May.

The Violet Crown Trail will be built through the city of Sunset Valley. (Source: City of Austin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Next Violet Crown Trail section to break ground this summer

The new section of trail will also connect to the Garza Ranch mixed-use development at the corner of William Cannon Drive and MoPac.

A photo of a group of women huddled together in yellow and blue fitness gear.
Lighthouse Community Wellness fitness studio open in Southwest Austin

A new women's fitness center is bringing classes and workshops to the Oak Hill area.

Dripping Springs has received two grants from the Texas Department of Transportation to complete sidewalk improvements projects. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dripping Springs receives $2.8 million in TxDOT grants for local sidewalk projects

Projects will include work along Rob Shelton Boulevard and that will connect Dripping Springs Middle and High schools.

A photo of the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees
Dripping Springs ISD presents on growth, debt ahead of regular board meeting

Dripping Springs ISD ranks 14th for debt among comparable districts.

Early voting for the March 3 primary elections began Feb. 18. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Southwest Austin 2020 Primary Election Guide

Find out which candidates will be on Southwest Austin ballots.

State Sen. Kirk Watson announced his resignation from state government Feb. 18. A number of local politicians have expressed interest in the seat.
Who is interested in Kirk Watson’s Senate seat? Here is where local members of the state House stand

State Reps. Gina Hinojosa and Eddie Rodriguez say they are "seriously considering" a run for the District 14 seat.

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz addresses the media on Feb. 20 after announcing plans to resign.
Outgoing Superintendent Paul Cruz says 'work will continue' in Austin ISD as transition plan is developed

A timeline for Cruz's departure has not yet been established by Austin ISD.

Austin taps downtown homeless shelter operator to expand permanent supportive housing program

Experts hold up permanent supportive housing as crucial to ending chronic homelessness.

Gold's Gym now open on South Congress near Slaughter Lane

Gold's Gym opened its new South Austin location in late January.

Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet now open on Stassney Lane

The Texas restaurant chain offers a lunch and dinner buffet.

Back to top