Math Professor Will Dunnington says when it comes to being an adjunct in the Community College System of New Hampshire, the pay just doesn’t add up to much.
“In the system they have four different levels, instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor. I’m at the top level and I make a comparable salary to an employee at McDonald’s,” said Will Dunnington, an adjunct Math Professor. “Yet to be at the top level, I have to have a master’s degree. I have calculated my time out to be about $10.25 an hour. If I were an ‘instructor’ I would make half of that.”
The term “contingent faculty” or “adjunct faculty” includes both part-and full-time non tenure track faculty. According to the American Association of University Professors, non-tenure-track positions of all types now account for 68-percent of all faculty appointments in American higher education.
Since faculty are classified as part-time, they are typically paid by the course without benefits, health insurance or retirement plans.
As an adjunct professor, Will says he is paid $676 per semester hour that he teaches. If he were to teach a full time load, which is 10-three semester hour courses a year, he would earn $20,280 a year.
“This is obviously not a living salary in New England.”
“I don’t think the general public even realizes this. If I were a parent paying tuition at a high rate, I would be wondering why they are exploiting adjuncts and not paying them a salary,” Will said.
For Will to make ends meet he has to teach as many courses as he can when he can. Adjunct faculty contracts are only for one semester at a time.
“Every semester I have to go looking for work. I have had a situation where four colleges wanted me to teach the same hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s a juggling act, a project to find enough work to make enough. It is really hard to support a family like this.”
Last semester Will taught five courses at three different schools.
“Sometimes I have taught as many as eight courses in a semester.”
Will, who worked as an engineer prior to teaching says this past year has taken a toll on his health. The 66-year old math professor is hopeful the union and CCSNH will settle on a contract soon, but says he is also considering retirement. The only problem is that his heart is really in the classroom.
“Most adjuncts love to teach and love students and we are penalized for that.”