Columbia-Green CC Regent Fights to Raise Adjunct Pay

While college leaders throughout the state of New York are looking for ways to trim already paltry adjunct pay, the CGCC Board of Trustees passed a resolution approving wage rates for adjuncts for the coming 2012-2013 academic year with concerns about the instructors’ future on campus.

Members of the board and CGCC President James Campion said that the issue of adjuncts’ low wages is a state and national issue, but it is being felt in the CGCC backyard.

The new contract, which goes into effect September 1st, includes three rates per qualified instructor. Qualified instructors range from special lecturer with a Bachelor’s or special certification and Master’s or higher teaching college level courses for the first time, to instructors with a Master’s or higher with college-level teaching experience and Doctorates or Masters with significant college-level teaching experience.

The starting rate for special lecturers is $615 per college credit, so one 3-credit course would pay $1,845 per semester. That applies to all rates.

New adjuncts are limited to teaching no more than six credits.

Adjuncts with a Doctorate or Masters with significant college-level teaching experience, the highest level qualification listed in the contract, have a starting rate of $765 per college credit.

The contract lists three levels of pay, and to improve from a starting rate, observations and student evaluations are needed for continuation and advancement.

“To advance to additional levels the adjunct faculty member will undergo a complete review and demonstrate exemplary teaching,” the contract states. “Advancement in salary will be based upon completion of three semesters (including Sum I & Sum II counted as one semester) of satisfactory teaching, ratings of the student evaluations and faculty/administrative evaluations.”

Trustee Edward Schneier said he has been fighting the low wages since he joined the board almost six years ago. He said there was both a moral and practical problem with underpaying the adjunct staff, which makes up a large percentage of the instructors on the campus.

“One of the practical difficulties is that the pool from most institutions includes proximity to a graduate education facility,” Schneier said. “Albany is increasingly out of the picture for us … just to travel here is pretty tough for someone coming from Albany, and that is a problem.”

The wages for adjuncts have increased since he joined the board, Schneier said, making CGCC one of the higher paying campuses for adjuncts in the state, but the location is what causes the problem.

According to the Hudson Valley Community College’s compensation agreement with its adjunct teachers, adjunct and part-time faculty members who teach nine or more hours in the 2012-2013 semester shall be compensated $1,061 per semester credit hour. Adjunct and part-time faculty members who teach less than nine credit hours in that same semester shall be compensated $1,000 per semester credit hour.

“In a way we have to pay more,” Schneier said, “because we are not near a graduate university.”

The state is cutting back on its education costs and it is a serious problem, board members said, and when you offer poor wages, you get poor results.

CGCC has been lucky, Campion said, because it has a strong staff of adjunct instructors; however, the pay rate still has an impact on prospective adjunct staff.

“It is getting more and more difficult all of the time to recruit adjuncts to even be interested in covering some of our sections,” Campion said. “We always run the risk of somebody finding a better opportunity.”

The president said the institution just ran into that problem with a potential adjunct who they planned on teaching one of the courses in the upcoming semester but a better salary and a better opportunity came along and the school lost the prospect.

And while the problem is growing more persistent, the issue of finding qualified adjuncts becomes more difficult when hiring in the fields of math and sciences, because a special degree is required, and with that comes more money.

Trustee Hugh Quigley said the board needed to be trend setters in the field of raising adjunct rates.

“I think it is a state and national issue but I also think that we have the power to do something about it,” Quigley said. “I think we should be trend setters and do something about it.”

Quigley said he would like to try to work out a plan where in the next three to five years something can be done about the meager wages paid to adjunct staff.

“This is not a joking matter and I think we are lucky, perhaps, to have good people for the pathetic wages,” Quigley said, “but I think the time will come where we are going to run out of luck. If we are going to be a good institution I think we have the power around this table to do something about this.”

Leave a Reply