What we could do to contribute to solving the “adjunct crisis”

We have 3 research faculty with PhDs and 5 instructors with MAs, and we give 68 regular courses per year. PhDs make on average $50K, and instructors on average $40K, so we have $350K in salary among us. We are all on the machine-run budget, i.e. on hard money lines, not soft money (the adjunct budget).

So we are not exploiting adjuncts ourselves, but our existence in our present form does mean that there are PhDs with the requisite 18 graduate hours in Spanish who are unemployed or working as adjuncts.

We could help these people, according to one proposal, by instead cutting 4 of the courses we give, such that we had 64, and then all going to a 4-4 load, with all PhDs and no tenure track or tenured individuals. We could divide the $350K evenly, such that each one would be at about $44k — the salary of a beginning assistant professor in humanities here.

This would mean throwing the 5 MAs out of jobs, and demoting the research faculty — which we all deserve, since our existence means there are unemployed PhDs. We would then have to hire 5 PhDs to these conditions.

PROBLEM: We have enough trouble getting PhDs to come here for $44K, a 3-3 load, and the possibility of tenure. How do you think we will do asking them to come here in yet worse conditions?

According to another proposal we could create a third category: the teaching PhD. We would all remain in our current positions, but this person would be hired to the conditions outlined above. They might not be required to do research, but be tenurable for teaching (how they would remain on the graduate faculty, though, I do not know), or they might be year-to-year hires, as the instructors are technically.

I have always opposed the creation of such lines for labor reasons. It is shocking to me now to hear this proposed as progressive.



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Filed under Questions, What Is A Scholar?

7 responses to “What we could do to contribute to solving the “adjunct crisis”

  1. The problem here is seeing these $350K as set in stone. I’m sure the university could easily find the $10K needed to transform one adjunct position into one tenure line. Your department doesn’t employ adjuncts, so this does not relate to your university. But those who do could easily find this really small amount of money to create a tenure line out of an adjunct position. The money could come out of Athletics, or the salary of an administrator who isn’t doing anything useful anyway.

    • Z

      We’re under a state moratorium, cannot raise any salaries and so on.

      But yes, of course, if we were to keep the instructors and add a tenure track person, which is what I want, we would get the university to find the $10K.

  2. In the meanwhile, I already found one colleague who has greed to teach the 4th course for free and is now doing so. Now when I refuse to do that, I will be branded as non-collegial and a trouble-maker.

    • Freudian slip. ;-) I meant “who has agreed.”

      • Z

        Great Freudian slip. :-) And that is just the thing: I do not think, at all, that having people agree to a fourth course will do any good — it is just hara-kiri without a point. This is where I don’t think the Schuman radicalism is radical at all, but reactionary.

      • The justification for agreeing to teach the 4th course for free is that this is what has to be done to save the program. The problem is that I’m not sure where these sacrifices to save the program end. :-( :-(

        Of course, this will not do any good. This will have disastrous consequences.

  3. Z

    In the end, the sacrificing faculty will have been sacrificed, and there will be no program.

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