By Emily Rodriguez
A survey will be circulated through ACES email today and will be available until Nov. 22 to adjunct faculty and college administration to analyze changes in morale.
Media communications Adjunct Jerry Townsend completed a draft of a morale survey he proposed the Adjunct Faculty Council conduct in their meeting Oct. 29.
The survey, has 10 questions and will judge adjuncts’ attitudes on their treatment and will help the council determine what issues should be addressed.
The proposal was made during a Sept. 22 meeting after a discussion about whether morale among adjuncts has dropped.
“If we determine that morale is a major issue, then we will attempt to take that up with the college administration and see what can be done to improve things,” Townsend said in an interview Oct. 31.
Townsend attributes the drop in morale to the reduction of hours taught by adjuncts to save money. Adjuncts can teach up to 11 hours. He described a proposal in January that did not go into effect but would have limited adjuncts to teaching fewer than 7.5 semester hours.
An interpretation of rules from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas indicated adjuncts who taught 7.5 hours or more would have to pay into the system and the college would have to match their contribution. Department chairs were asked to justify any adjunct teaching more than 7.5 hours in an effort to reduce the number of hours they taught.
Townsend said the plan did not go into effect but still impacted adjunct morale.
“The message was that adjuncts really didn’t matter. They would cut our hours to save money and have more adjuncts,” he said. “The other thing that wore on morale was the decision to save money by eliminating or declining to renew the contracts of 31 full-time adjuncts. It took many of the best adjunct faculty out of the mix.”
Townsend, who retired in 1998 after teaching here 20 years, had taught journalism 12 years as a full-time adjunct until this semester in which he teaches only two classes.
Question 10 on the survey asks adjuncts to identify an administrative member or college leader who is sympathetic to the interests of adjunct faculty.
Townsend said there has been a drop in adjunct support in the board of trustees since the retirement of Ruben Flores, dean of evening and extended services, and the 2012 departure of Jessica Howard, vice president of academic affairs.
“Those were two people who really cared deeply about the welfare of adjuncts and there’s no one who’s really stepped into the picture and taken up that job,” he said. “Flores for many years was someone who spoke up in administrative meetings for the best interest of adjuncts. He was responsible for really creating the Adjunct Faculty Council so there was a voice.”
“Jessica Howard, I would say her role was that she had been an adjunct not very many years before she became chairman of the music department then eventually was selected to be academic vice president,” Townsend said. “As a vice president, she was a sympathetic ear. Many of the initiatives we brought to the administration she was enthusiastically supportive of and was definitely a friend to adjuncts.”