Adjunct News

Taylor Fontes

The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps

Posted on: May 9th, 2012 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

If the reality of the growing number of adjunct professors relying on public assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid wasn’t setting in before, it is now.  Besides being peppered with jaw-dropping statistics from various government agencies about dismal salaries and exploding welfare rolls, this article incorporates anecdotes of several highly educated individuals who are literally living in poverty.  Despite having come from middle-class families and holding advanced degrees – in many cases PhD’s, these adjuncts provide the heartbreaking details about what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet while many remain ignorant of or indifferent to their plight.

To read the full article by Stacey Patton go to:

Taylor Fontes

Guest Commentary: Adjunct professors are hiding in plain sight

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

Professor of History at Colorado State University at Pueblo, Jonathan Rees, has written a commentary in the opinion section of about – you guessed it – the plight of adjuncts.  He cites all of the now familiar stats: adjuncts make up 75% of the faculty across the country; they have term-limited contracts; they often work at several institutions in order to make ends meet; their pay levels could qualify them for public assistance; they receive no benefits.

The list goes on, and for those of us who have been keeping our finger on the pulse of higher education issues, we know it by heart.  But those who still don’t are the students and their parents.  Rees reiterates the importance of raising awareness among them as the multitude of challenges that adjuncts are confronted with most certainly affects the quality of education the students receive.  This is NOT because adjuncts are less qualified or committed than their full time, tenured or tenure-track counterparts.   In fact, the reason many students are not privy to the existence of adjuncts – let alone their working conditions – is because they cannot distinguish between an adjunct and a full-time professor in the classroom.  And frankly, it serves the administration that students are none the wiser.   What threatens to diminish the quality of education, Rees argues, is the fact that “if a professor has to struggle this way to make ends meet then [they] cannot invest all the time and energy into teaching that their students deserve. Yet universities charge the same amount in tuition for taking a class no matter how much the person teaching the course is getting paid.”

Rees points out that, while adjuncts have been present on college and university campuses since the 1970’s, their ubiquity is staggering now and at the same time that tuition costs are skyrocketing.  In spite of the fact that adjuncts are quite cognizant of the inequities they face, many have been reluctant to speak up to improve their conditions because they know that they can be fired at will.  Thankfully, as Rees points out, adjuncts at prestigious institutions such as American University and NYU are organizing their adjuncts, hopefully inspiring others to follow suit.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently signed a bill that will make it possible for state universities to offer their adjunct faculty members contracts up to three years long.  Of course this does not remedy the pay inequity, but it is nonetheless a step forward in improving the working conditions of adjuncts.

It is encouraging that adjuncts are now making their situation known as opposed to suffering in silence. Many are petitioning Vice-President Biden after he claimed, falsely, that high faculty salaries were behind the exploding cost of college.  Rees is emphatic that “every college student and every American needs to be made aware of [adjuncts’] existence” in order that real widespread, large-scale education reform can be made.  Indeed the future of higher education, and all that it does to contribute to a robust society depends on it.

Read more: Guest Commentary: Adjunct professors are hiding in plain sight – The Denver Post


Taylor Fontes

Rutgers U. Lecturers Await a New Union Contract

Posted on: April 24th, 2012 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

Eleanor LaPointe,
 of the Part-Time Lecturer Faculty Chapter
 at Rutgers University AAUP-AFT submitted a letter to the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education today which highlights once again the dire state of contingent faculty, even at a prestigious institution like Rutgers.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, she states that “making the case for better treatment of part-time/adjunct faculty seems to fall on deaf ears everywhere—especially at the bargaining table.”  In fact, part-time faculty are the only employees at Rutgers who have yet to settle a union contract, from full time faculty to maintenance custodians.  Adjuncts at Rutgers are so poorly paid that many qualify for New Jersey FamilyCare and must teach at several institutions in order to make a living wage.  Sound familiar?  LaPointe implores administrators at Rutgers to set a better example to students by treating them as the qualified educational professionals that they are, rather than the dispensable agency temps as they are seen by administration.

To read the full editorial go to: