Essential Pittsburgh
5:45 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Adjuncts: Wage & Benefit Disparities In Higher Education

Discussing pay and benefits for adjunct professors
Discussing pay and benefits for adjunct professors
Credit Earlham College / Flickr

The story of Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University has gone viral and it’s sparked a debate about fair compensation for adjuncts.

Dan Kovalick, senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers (the union currently seeking to organize adjunct instructors at Duquesne) who wrote the op-ed piece believes that the adjuncts should have an increase in pay and should be entitled to benefits. Kovalick argues that, with heads of Universities making six-figure salaries and in some cases millions of dollars, teachers should be able to get an increase in compensation.

He also points out that parents of students, are spending tens of thousands of dollars on their child’s tuition and seeing that their child’s teachers are not making a livable wage.

Jeff Ritter, an associate professor and chair for the Communication, Media, and Technology departments at La Roche College, acknowledges that parents and students may show concern with a system that keeps adjuncts from teaching to their full ability. But he says students who feel like they’re not getting what they need from teachers and their school can always transfer.

Ritter adds that adjuncts have had these problems for quite some time and he has experienced the life of an adjunct. He says people become adjuncts because they want to immerse themselves in the field they're teaching and in order to move up the ranks to be a full-time professor, one needs to be flexible, keep transitioning with technology, and “branch out.”