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Ivy Tech Community College Blames Affordable Care Act for “Shortage” of Adjunct Faculty

by Seth Schlabaugh

Ivy Tech Community College is experiencing a shortage of adjunct faculty linked to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

“We know that in some areas, that’s a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in the need for the number of adjunct faculty,” regional Chancellor Andy Bowne said during a speech last Friday, three days before the start of fall semester.

ObamaCare also could limit award-winning professional development opportunities for the adjunct faculty.

The East Central region of the college employs about 120 full-time faculty and about 500 adjunct or part-time faculty.

“Even as late as maybe yesterday or the day before, I saw the need for anatomy and physiology adjunct,” Bowne said.

During the speech at the Horizon Convention Center to about 270 faculty and staff, Bowne looked into the audience and added, “Did we fill that? Did we find somebody yet?” Bowne asked.

He got a “no” response. “Nope,” he repeated into the microphone for all to hear.

“We know that at least early on, our adjunct faculty were feeling like, ‘You’re kind of pinching us; why are you doing that exactly?’ ” Bowne said. “It’s out of our hands in so many ways.”

Ivy Tech is cutting the hours of adjunct faculty to avoid Affordable Care Act requirements to provide health insurance to employees working more than 30 hours a week. Adjunct faculty are now limited to teaching 12 credit hours per semester.

Ivy Tech can’t afford to pay health insurance for those faculty.

On Aug. 13, less than two weeks before the start of fall semester, the East Central region issued a news release saying it was seeking adjunct instructors for the Anderson, New Castle, Marion and Muncie campuses.

Minimum qualifications include a master’s or higher degree. Adjuncts receive a $500 per credit hour stipend. The majority of the courses are three credit hours, or $1,500 per class.

In addition to classroom or laboratory time, the instructors must spend time preparing for class and grading exams or papers and doing other tasks.

An East Central region faculty survey released in July showed that 31 percent of adjunct faculty disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “I am satisfied with the benefits offered at Ivy Tech,” compared to about 8 percent of full-time faculty.

“If the Affordable Care Act implications were known at the time of the survey, no doubt that issue had an additional demoralizing impact on the adjuncts,” a report on the survey said. “This is a challenge with no obvious solutions.”

The report also said the act will not allow the region to offer Associate Faculty Development Institute opportunities during the semester to many adjunct faculty, which is “a major concern for the future.” The institute is available to all faculty but focuses on adjuncts.

“It is interesting that adjuncts report greater satisfaction with professional development than do the full-time faculty,” the report said. “A corroborating piece of evidence is the findings that adjunct who participated in at least 20 hours of the Associate Faculty Development Institute experienced more student success than other adjuncts and even full-time faculty on a course-by-course comparative basis.”

Last year, the institute, which expanded in 2011 after a $1 million pledge from the George and Frances Ball Foundation, won a national “Campus Impact Award” from the Council for Resource Development.

The city of Muncie’s future success relies in part on having a globally competitive local work force, which includes the need to have skilled college faculty, according to the local foundation.

Typically, adjunct faculty are professionals who bring real-life experience to students, demonstrating the possibility of successful careers in their area of study.

In May of 2013, more than half a year before the federal health care mandate became effective, Bowne told The Star Press, “This means we have to go aggressively into the adjunct hiring process. If you’re limiting the number of hours you teach, we still have to offer the courses, so you need to hire additional adjuncts or have those at the low end … teach more courses.”

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