by Tammy Marashlian
Despite getting a 2-percent raise this year, College of the Canyons’ part-time faculty is paid less than adjunct faculty at many regional community colleges and is below the state average, state data shows.
College of the Canyons has about 430 adjunct faculty who teach the majority of classes at the Santa Clarita Valley’s only community college.
COC administrators say they are working with the part-time faculty to increase their pay in the coming years.
For fall 2010, the average hourly rate for adjunct faculty at COC was $57.42, according to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.
The state average for 2010 was $66.54, the figures show.
Within Southern California, Antelope Valley pays an average rate of $72.64, while Ventura pays an average of $76.32, the chancellor’s office study shows.
Many community colleges pay part-time faculty an average rate that is in the $50s and $60s.
Pete Virgadamo, president of Part-Time Faculty United-AFT Local 6262 at COC, said the association this year organized a study of part-time pay for Southern California community colleges.
Virgadamo, who has taught at COC for 21 years, said the association grew concerned that administrators are paid above average, which stretches the college budget.
Yet, Virgadamo said the adjunct faculty are appreciative of the 2-percent raise approved by trustees last week. The last time the union received a pay raise was in 2009 and amounted to a 1-percent increase.
This year’s raises cost the community college about $140,000, and are retroactive to the first day of the fall semester.
“I doubt if any part-time college instructors are getting pay raises,” Virgadamo said. “It’s a step forward.”
COC administrators hope to continue working with the part-time faculty union.
“We worked hard to move them up,” Michael Wilding, COC assistant superintendent and vice president of student services, said. “It is our belief that we are a little above average within our 50-mile radius.”
Each community college pays its part-time faculty differently, which makes pay rates difficult to directly compare.
Virgadamo said it’s common for adjunct faculty to teach at numerous colleges. One semester, Virgadamo taught classes at five community colleges in Los Angeles County.
“You cannot sustain yourself on the income of just one community college teaching position,” he said.
Traditionally, adjunct faculty do not get benefits like health care and retirement.
“We are significantly cheaper,” he said.
Providing better pay to adjunct faculty would hopefully lead to more qualified professors.
“My belief is that it would help attract a higher quality of individuals into the classroom, which would benefit the students,” he said. “Traditionally, the longer a teacher is at the college level at the same campus, then the better they get.”
College of the Canyons trustee Bruce Fortine hopes to get the very best in part-time faculty and a good salary range is part of that, he said.
“They’re kind of right in the middle,” Fortine said. “But we would like to see them above average in terms of pay.”
He hopes more progress will be made.
“When we get to the paint where it’s what we want to it be and where they feel comfortable,” Fortine said. Then we have a good thing.”
Originally posted to The Signal. Used here with permission.