Column: Adjuncts deserve better compensation
Over the past four years I’ve absolutely loved being part of the Seton Hall community.
Looking back, I realize that my satisfaction stems from a combination of SHU’s atmosphere, finding lifelong friends, joining a top-notch student-run newspaper, and a selection of professors that have had meaningful impacts on me. As a student of the College of Communication and the Arts, many of my professors have been adjuncts. They are hired on a part-time, per semester basis because it is deemed uneconomic to keep them on full-time.
According to a 2015 article from Village Green NJ, adjunct professors in the Seton Hall College of Arts & Sciences earn one of the lowest rates in the state at $2,100 per course. The article does not mention whether or not this amount varies based on class enrollment, meaning that a professor teaching a class of 80 students may earn the same amount as a professor teaching a class of 10. On the other hand, SHU’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences made more than $167,000 in 2014. Meanwhile, Fordham pays adjuncts $3,800 per course and Rutgers pays unionized adjuncts $4,500.
Compensation can vary from school to school, or professor to professor. Adjuncts of Seton Hall’s School of Diplomacy earn roughly $4,500 per course. The dean of the School of Diplomacy made more than $259,000 in 2014.
Courses at Seton Hall are approximately $1,000 per credit hour. This means that in Arts & Science, less than one student per class pays for the professor to be there the whole semester in a typical three-credit course. In the School of Diplomacy the professor is covered by just two students.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is aware of adjunct professor pay inequality. It started an effort titled The Adjunct Project to collect data on how much adjunct professors from around the country are being compensated. Data showed that the overall average nationwide is $2,987. This is not just a problem limited to Seton Hall, or even New Jersey.
In spring 2014, the SHU’s Faculty Senate surveyed part-time faculty about working at SHU. The survey received 240 responses. Of the 69 general comments made, 40 were related to compensation or benefits being low or lower than other local schools. The survey also asked what the most challenging part of working part-time at SHU was. Sixty-five participants answered “Compensation/benefits,” while the next most popular answer was “Staying connected/participating” with slightly more than 40 responses.
This low compensation can make for a somewhat itinerant lifestyle for adjuncts. They commute from school to school, earning money where they can.
In addition to low earnings, adjuncts receive no benefits, are not eligible to be tenured, and are not even ensured a job after their current semester.
Many professors pour themselves into their students. As a result, students like myself are initially under the impression that these learners are being well-rewarded, especially when we pay so much to attend SHU. It is disgusting that we can be charged so much to receive our invaluable educations, yet those providing our education are struggling to make ends meet.
The nation as a whole can do better to compensate the professors educating the next leaders of the world, and we can start right here at Seton Hall.
Joey Khan is a art, design and interactive media major from Richmond, Va. He can be reached at email@example.com.