National report finds part-time pay ‘substandard’

Nichol Nelson

Part-time instructors at the University might earn more money for their efforts if administrators heed the advice of a new report calling for increased pay rates for part-timers.
As operating budgets shrink, the practice of hiring part-time staff to reduce faculty costs and fill temporary vacancies is becoming commonplace, prompting concerns about pay equity and status for the part-time instructors.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities released a report last week calling compensation for part-time faculty “substandard” and recommending regular evaluations and opportunities for advancement.
The new report, “Facing Change: Building the Faculty of the Future,” calls for part-timers to be paid at levels comparable to full-time instructors. The report also calls for administrators to provide development opportunities for part-time faculty.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, part-time staff made up 42 percent of American postsecondary instructional faculty in 1992.
“Part-time” faculty is usually defined as non-tenure track instructors who teach fewer hours than normal full-time faculty. Tenure track professors must work at least 67 percent of regular faculty hours.
Part-time workers start at a variety of salaries. Linda Blake, executive assistant in the Office of Human Resources, said there is no set salary for part-time employees.
Carol Carrier, vice president for the Office of Human Resources, said individual departments determine the salaries of instructors, but there is a salary floor of $21,783 for assistant professors who work 100 percent for nine months. Part-time instructors must be paid a base salary that is proportional to that figure, depending on the amount of time they work.
Carrier said discrepancies in salaries probably result from departments exceeding the salary base for full-timers while staying near the salary floor for part-timers.
The practice of hiring part-time, non-tenure track instructors to fill tenured positions has both positive and negative results, University officials said.
The part-time instructional faculty and staff provide universities with a flexible work force while reducing costs, but some full-time faculty members said hiring part-time faculty with no job security is damaging to the University environment.
Steve Gudeman, professor of anthropology, said the University uses part-time faculty for the same reason many businesses do: to save money. He said many incoming part-timers don’t want the temporary work, but have little choice.
“They have to take these jobs,” Gudeman said. “They want a full-time tenured position. It’s a disaster for building up good scholarship and research.”