Reversing Course in Pennsylvania Higher Education: The Two Tiers in Faculty Pay and Benefits and a Way forward
Posted: March 17, 2011
A recent report entitled, Reversing Course in Pennsylvania Higher Education: The Two Tiers in Faculty Pay and Benefits and a Way Forward, was commissioned by the American Federation of Teachers and conducted by JBL Associates who found that non-tenure track faculty members teach approximately half of all undergraduate public college courses in the United States.
The main concern is the vast difference in the salaries of full-time employees to those of part-time/adjunct faculty members. It is said that part-time faculty members receive only a quarter of what full-time faculty members receive. This issue is continuing to rise because contingent faculty members, an important component of the teaching force in colleges and universities, bring a unique experience to the classroom. This report focuses on Pennsylvania and describes how the public colleges and universities compensate full-time and part-time faculty members and graduate employees who teach undergraduate courses.
The data was collected via a survey distributed to Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, 14 state-funded four year schools, and four state-related institutions. It was determined that Pennsylvania relies on contingent faculty members almost as much as the nation as a whole. The findings indicated most adjunct faculty members receive no health or pension benefits and earn lower wages per course than full-time tenured faculty members.
More data is needed to conclude further ways to push for change that address the poor pay of contingent faculty members that also provide a foundation for high-quality education. The Pennsylvania Advisory Committee recommended to lawmakers in 2003 that in the long-run, treating contingent faculty members more fairly will inevitably double the benefit—an improvement in the quality of higher education in Pennsylvania, while also allowing for a better quality of life for these instructors and their families.
The report can be read in its entirety at the Keystone Research Center website.
Submitted by Abigail L. Miller, Research Assistant to Dr. Theodore Alter