Austin Community College board to analyze adjunct faculty compensation

Austin Community College's board of trustees may revisit its policy for adjunct faculty compensation.

Austin Community College's board of trustees may revisit its policy for adjunct faculty compensation.

The Austin Community College board of trustees will not approve its next budget until July, but the board is already preparing to take a look at how the community college’s adjunct—or part-time—faculty is paid as compared to its full-time instructors.

In 2010, the board adopted a policy that paid adjunct faculty on a sliding scale as compared to their full-time peers. To teach a three-hour class, adjunct faculty at ACC receive 68.75 percent of the full-time salary.

The board arrived at that number in 2010 by analyzing the time adjunct and full-time faculty were expected to put into teaching a three-hour class. It decided full-time faculty were expected to devote more time to appointment office hours and other duties such as instructional prep, therefore establishing the ratio.

According to ACC’s website, adjunct faculty new hires receive between $1,115 and $1,194 per class hour. If an adjunct associate professor were to teach a full course load—five courses per semester—he or she would make $17,910 over the course of the semester, while a full-time faculty member would make $26,050 for the same course load.

Additionally, full-time faculty contracts at ACC begin one week before the first day of the semester, while adjunct faculty are paid beginning on the first day of classes. Board member Sean Hassan expressed concern with that aspect of the current policy, arguing adjunct faculty have to put in prep time for classes before the semester begins and are not being compensated for their time.

“I’m trying to wrap my head around how we expect someone to show up on day one [of class] and deliver well if there wasn’t an assumption they were going to show up and do that prep,” Hassan said at the board’s Feb. 18 meeting.

Neil Vickers, ACC’s executive vice president of finance and administration, told the board pinning down a target for how much time adjunct and full-time faculty devote to their work is an extremely difficult task, and before implementing its policy in 2010, ACC board members and staff had years of discussion trying to find the right solution.

“The fact that we’re taking professionals, especially those operating as independently as faculty, and map a 40-hour work week as if they’re punching a time card is an exercise in futility,” Vickers said. “There were a lot of different people, including a lot of faculty, that spent many years trying to answer this question.”

Because of the difficulty involved in comparing hours, board members Mark Williams and Barbara Mink both suggested setting a ratio that was not tied to the amount of hours faculty devote to course prep and other duties.

“I’m of the opinion we get out of the percentage game and say what a course is worth,” Mink said.

While salary scales were the only item of discussion the board took up officially on the dais, adjunct English professor Amy Rostvold brought other issues related to adjunct faculty to the board’s attention at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Rostvold, an adjunct professor in the English department for the last four years, said she was bumped from all her courses this semester by full-time faculty members whose courses did not fill up during the student registration period.

According to Rostvold, she was informed of the change for one of her courses 20 minutes before she walked into the classroom.

“These policies hurt adjuncts. They are demoralizing, and they make long-term employment unsustainable,” Rostvold said.


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