UConn was recently ranked in the top 20th percentile for adjunct professor working conditions but the results are met with criticism.
The report by GoodCall, a financial data information website, accounted for average monthly pay, comparative salary to tenured and tenure-track faculty, student-teacher ratio and student graduation rates, as well as the affordability of living in the university area.
UConn ranked #58 out of 292 schools nationwide.
The report found that an adjunct’s average monthly salary is $8,352, their comparative salary is 50 percent, their cost of living as a percent of the national average is 117, the student-teacher ratio is 17:1 and the school’s graduation rate is 83 percent.
Yael Schacher, an adjunct faculty in American studies, English and history at the Hartford campus, criticized the study because it lumped adjunct faculty and full-time non-tenure track faculty together.
“I can guarantee to you that no adjunct at UConn gets paid $8,000 a month,” Schacher said.
The American Association of University Professors Internal Organizer Christopher Henderson also found the $8,352 monthly average salary high, and also thought it was because the report took full-time non-tenure track faculty into consideration.
“That’s overly generous,” Henderson said. “Based on the information we have, the minimum a three credit course pays is $4,668 per semester. Because of the eight credit cap per semester, many adjuncts teach only six credits. They then teach at Eastern and Central Universities to make a living wage.”
If UConn adjuncts are teaching six credits per semester, about $9,400 per semester, their monthly average salary would be around $2,700. Schacher estimates an average academic year salary would be around $20,000 for an adjunct.
Schacher also works on a part-time research project about American history with Harvard graduate students and postdocs to supplement her teaching salary.
Schacher recently published an op-ed in CT Viewpoints regarding her life as an adjunct faculty member.
“From an equity standpoint, conditions of employment are unfair for adjuncts and their students and education is suffering,” she writes in the op-ed. “The number of adjuncts at UConn has been rising over the past decade and, at the regional campuses, almost all courses are taught by adjunct faculty. Higher tuition has not meant higher pay for these faculty members.”
Schacher, who has a Ph.D. in American Studies, wrote how most adjuncts have the same qualifications as tenure track professors, but have salaries an average of three times less, and are without health benefits, research funding and job security.
“Pay is only part of a person’s life,” Henderson said. “The report doesn’t cover the fringe benefits that teachers need. Even a tenure track professor would accept a lower salary if it meant having better benefits.”
The AAUP is working to advance working conditions for adjunct professors specifically, in addition to their collective bargaining agreement for professors in general.
The AAUP started the ad-hoc adjunct committee about six months ago. The committee has reached out to departments to see how they are including adjunct faculty in their decision making. Additionally, coffee hours are held at all campuses to advocate for better benefits and better pay.
Henderson said the national AAUP chapter does industry accepted survey research regarding faculty salaries, and said he was not sure how highly regarded GoodCall is in academia.
Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.