- Adjunct professors at Ithaca College have created a viral photo campaign, illustrating the pay disparities between part-time and full-time instructors at the institution.
- The photos, which have short messages of financial hardship and large workloads written on a blackboard, come as school officials and union representatives on campus and nationwide are working for collective bargaining agreements for higher salaries, healthcare and benefits.
- Part-time and graduate instructors make up about 25% of Ithaca's total teaching workforce, about half of the national proportion of the number of faculty appointments held by adjunct professors.
Teaching is becoming a heavily discussed element of higher education cost management in media and legislative circles. As most states and institutions try to find a way to balance pension payments, healthcare costs and downward trends in enrollment and endowment returns, many institutions see the current system of adjunct appointment as a safety valve in maintaining classroom teacher-student ratios while saving costs.
In truth, this approach will create a shortage in professionals seeking teaching opportunities, which will damage the academic product for students and tenured professors. Campus leaders should consider options that afford adjunct appointees higher salary, to accommodate partial payment of healthcare with some limited contributions in tuition waivers for a good faith showing in upward mobility.