Adjunct faculty outnumbers full-time professors

Adjunct, or part time faculty at South Puget Sound Community College more than doubles the number of full time professors, but they make less money per credit and are hired on a quarterly basis. For the 2013-14 school year, SPSCC hired 118 more adjunct faculty members than tenured professors according to the factbook by the SPSCC Office of Institutional Research.

Throughout the United States, colleges hire more adjunct faculty members than full time faculty. There are many speculations as to why. One idea suggested by Colman McCarthy, reporter for the Washington Post, is that colleges pay adjunct faculty a substantial amount less than they pay full-time professors.  Adjunct professors work as part-time teaching faculty, meaning they get paid less than full time faculty per credit.

There are two types of part time professors. Adjunct is one, but there is also an Associate Professor title which means that the professor is a longer standing adjunct faculty member who has taught 135 credits or more. Additionally, full-time employees are almost all on the probationary track to becoming a tenured professor.

According to the statistics in the 2013-14 factbook by the SPSCC Office of Institutional Research, adjunct professors only receive $775 per credit, which indicates that teaching a full course load, they would make approximately $34,875.00 per year.  They would have to teach at least 67 credits per year to receive the same annual pay as tenured professors which is $47,521.00 .

To become a full-time probationary tenure track professor, one has to apply for a full-time position that is being offered by the school. Positions offered are determined based on how much funding the school has to hire another full-time teacher and what subject the school decides is the most necessary to hire in. Those decisions depend on enrollment and how many classes need to be offered to fulfill the needs of students.

Full time faculty generally teach three courses a quarter and take part in committees. Many adjunct professors teach more than three classes a quarter just to make enough money, but are not required to participate in activities outside teaching and providing office hours.

Despite this, many of the part time faculty choose to participate in clubs and activities around the campus because “doing that extra stuff is about education and being an educator” according to Professor Eric Chase.

However, SPSCC does provide more benefits to adjunct professors than some out of state colleges. In Washington State, adjunct professors are allowed to join the union. As a result, part time professors are provided with medical and dental insurance as well as some form of retirement pension if they teach at least two consecutive quarters at 7.5 credits each.

After SPSCC President Stokes took over on Feb. 1 of the 2012-13 school year, he gave all adjunct faculty a raise. This puts SPSCC adjunct faculty in a position of better compensation than other adjunct professors throughout the country, but according to Chase, “so much more needs to be done.”

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