The Austin Community College District board of trustees has progressed step by step through budget negotiations this spring, crossing off tasks such as setting the community college district’s tuition and fee rate and its homestead exemption for taxpayers.
Before the board finalizes the budget July 8, trustees must make a decision on compensation and benefit plans for each of the district’s employees, and that involves decisions on an issue multiple speakers have brought to the board’s attention consistently over the last few years: adjunct faculty compensation.
Adjunct–or part-time–faculty at ACC who are brought on board as new hires are paid on a sliding scale that is tied to the pay of their full-time colleagues. Adjunct faculty members starting at ACC make 68.75% of what their full-time counterparts make, and each rate is based on whether the professor has a master’s degree or a doctorate, according to Compensation Manager Dana Tucker.
That ratio was set in 2010, and it accounts for the fact that adjunct faculty are not compensated for appointment office hours or administrative duties, such as advising and committee meetings.
Trustee Julie Ann Nitsch said at the board’s June 4 meeting the district must listen to its adjunct faculty’s concerns because those faculty members are in touch with students every day.
“Ever since I was elected to this board, we’ve had adjunct faculty coming and telling us they don’t get paid for the hours they work. They don’t get paid for their week of prep; they don’t get paid for their week of grading; they don’t get paid for their office hours,” Nitsch said.
Based on an analysis from district staff, all employees at ACC may be receiving a raise in the upcoming year. ACC administration recommended a 3% raise for full-time faculty, adjunct faculty and non-faculty staff based on the actions of peer institutions and increases in cost of living. Additionally, the administration recommended raising the district’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
In addition to those recommended changes, the board asked staff to come back at its July 8 meeting with additional information on changing adjunct faculty’s rate of pay. Staff provided the board with information on the range adjunct faculty can make, but trustee Sean Hassan asked for data on where adjunct professors fall on the actual pay scale.
In addition, trustee Stephanie Gharakhanian asked for more information on the budgetary effects of increasing the adjunct-to-full-time ratio. Gharakhanian said Neil Vickers, executive vice president of finance and administration, previously advised her that increasing the ratio from 68.75% to 70% would cost the district approximately $725,000.
“What I would like to see is something we can actually look at for action at the July board meeting as we finalize the compensation component,” Gharakhanian said.
Adjunct faculty make between $3,345 and $7,479 for teaching a three-hour lecture course, according to the range of salaries staff presented to the board June 24. At each level of education, those rates are at the top of the rankings as compared to eight peer institutions, including Alamo Community College, Collin College and Lone Star College.
Still, a change is overdue, according to Adjunct Faculty Association Chairwoman Samantha Ackers. Ackers told the board at the June 3 meeting the only way students know the difference between a course taught by a full-time faculty member and one taught by an adjunct faculty member is the professor’s title on the syllabus.
“If you look at the workload, we do what full-time faculty do,” Ackers said.