In my morning routine, at least the routine that has evolved on this particular project, I skim over the headlines and drop into a blog or two. High on my list is the confessions of a CC dean, mainly because he is at times witty and always interesting posts. I usually agree. Today, he pissed me off.
His topic is an important one, and anyone who has listened to Bruce Springsteen or lived in the oil fields of
Which leads me to the line that pissed me off. Dead Dad observes:
In higher ed, the major operating expense is labor. Most of that labor is either tenured, and therefore uncuttable, or adjunct, and therefore too cheap to be worth cutting.
I take a well publicized university from the
UofA pays on the lower side. You would be paid per class a set rate, which, depending on you speed and agility with the technology breaks out to around $20 an hour (I can break this down a little more if you wish). Considering they wish to only employ PhDs, such an hourly rate attracts a certain type: missionaries.
Academic missionaries are the mainstay of education. No one goes into teaching for the money. At best, people go into teaching for the security (health insurance, tenure, etc.). Which is why the UofA is so insidious. There is no security in adjuncting course to course. Each contract covers one course only. You are completely at the whim of market forces or the whiles of the deans.
Back to Dean Dad. His justification at keeping adjuncts around is that their cut of the total costs is low compared to the revenue they generate (enrollment tuition divided by stipend). They are easy money. There are no benefits and little risk (they go from semester to semester, class to class). Why not be honest and say that the real model is to follow the UofA? Well then the quality would suffer. Dean elaborates:
Major budget cuts require either eliminating entire programs, or therefore compromising our mission, or watering-down the full-time faculty with a greater percentage of adjuncts, which compromises quality over time.
"Watering down" at the expense of quality. This assumes that adjuncts are by definition inferior. What of the UofA's approach? Are academic missionaries ipso facto inferior?
I am annoyed and intrigued at the same time.