No adjunct benefits could be a thing of the past

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By Pam Paz

ppaz2@student.alamo.edu 

The adjunct to full-time faculty ratio at this college is roughly 50-50 percent of sections taught, said President Robert Vela.

Amanda Martin, Adjunct Faculty Council chair and English adjunct, said she acts as a voice for other adjuncts.

As chair, a position she has occupied for more than a year, Martin represents council, leads meetings, appoints others to provide representation at meetings in her absence and makes agendas.

Some of the benefits of being an adjunct are the camaraderie with full-time faculty and professional development through the Murguia Institute, Martin said.

The Murguia Institute was established at this college in 2005 to help faculty and staff learn and implement best practices and improve student support strategies, according to this college’s website.

The lack of stability and lack of health and retirement benefits are the main disadvantages for adjuncts, Martin said.

“Only under certain particular circumstances are adjuncts eligible for benefits,” she said.

This was the first time in more than six years that adjuncts received a raise. The raise was a 0.9 percent increase, which is an average of $88 per year.

Martin said anything is better than nothing, but the small increase was not encouraging for adjuncts.

“While it was better than absolutely nothing, especially looking at it in comparison to what full-time got, 2.875 percent I believe, there really was a feeling of unhappiness,” Martin said.

“Better than nothing, but not enough.”

Martin said the population of adjuncts at this college is much more diverse than what the perception is.

“The perception is different than what the vast majority think adjuncts really are,” Martin said.

“Certainly there are those people who either have another job or have retired from teaching who do it because they love teaching. Then there are others who, perhaps, this is something they want to do as a regular job, as a future position, and it’s a way to get started and hopefully have opportunities down the line for full-time employment.”

Martin said although many adjuncts have full-time work at other institutions, this has been her only job for the last 10 years.

She said it had been a number of years since an adjunct was promoted to full-time in the English department, and if the opportunity for full-time came her way, she would take it.

The percentage of adjunct faculty should stay steady or rise slightly depending on enrollment numbers, Martin said.

In her experience, the majority of adjuncts do many of the tasks full-time faculty is expected to do, such as planning and grading.

“In terms of the grading, the preparation, and being there for students when they need us, all the ones I know do it just as much as full-timers do,” Martin said.

The biggest difference between full-time faculty and adjuncts is full-time have a required number of office hours per week, as well as committee work that adjuncts do not, Martin said.

“At this point, there’s no absolute requirement for office hours, though many adjuncts I know do it anyway,” she said.

Martin said there has been discussion of a minimal amount of office hours for a new adjunct job description coming out.

A job posting for an adjunct position at this college requires a posted minimum of 10 office hours, which is in line with the new adjunct job description, Martin said.

Although adjuncts do not collect the same benefits as full-time faculty, over the years more opportunities to participate in shared governance have been presented.

Martin and adjunct Jeanette Bunch attend monthly Faculty Senate meetings and also have two voting seats.

Martin said former Adjunct Faculty Chair Gerald Townsend negotiated this.

In addition to Faculty Senate, Martin has been invited to attend meetings of the president’s leadership, College Council and other organizations and committees on campus, such as the Strategic Quality Enhancement Team.

Martin also said Vela has encouraged adjuncts to propose ideas for a reward system to ensure they are recognized for their contributions.

“It’s something that’s still in the works. We’re still researching and putting ideas together, so we may have more coming down the line,” Martin said.

Vela said he asked Martin to develop a framework or comprehensive compensation system to take to the President and Vice Chancellors Committee exploring a way to compensate part-time adjuncts who go above and beyond what they are required to do.

“Adjuncts are an integral part of faculty and we need to find a better way to compensate them,” Vela said.

For more information about Adjunct Faculty Council meetings, email Martin at amartin@alamo.edu.

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