/Adjuncts teach courses ‘as needed’

Adjuncts teach courses ‘as needed’

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Cassie Gibbs

News Editor

 

 

Troy University administration discussed adjunct faculty members’ livelihood and their role as instructors with the Tropolitan.

The Tropolitan asked Earl Ingram, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, to explain how adjuncts are used at Troy after an opinion column on the topic appeared in the papers last week.

Troy’s policy manual states that an adjunct, or part-time faculty member, is “employed to provide specific courses on an as-needed basis.”Adjuncts are hired by course.

Ingram said that adjunct hires are typically used to teach specialized courses in the fields they have experience in. Adjuncts also regularly teach remedial or general courses.

“On this campus last fall, 85 percent of credit hours produced were by full-time [faculty],”Ingram said. “For the university as a whole, including online and out-of-state, 70 percent were taught by full-time. On this campus, that 15 percent taught by adjuncts includes all remedial courses. This fall, of the 22 remedial courses in math, all 22 are being taught by adjuncts. Of the 27 upper-level courses in math, only 1 is being taught by an adjunct.”

The higher-level courses are usually taught by faculty members who are full-time, either tenure-track or non-tenure track, and who also have master’s degrees or Ph.D’s in that field.

“To teach a developmental course, you don’t need a Ph.D.,” Ingram said. “Truly, some of the best developmental English or math teachers that we have are active or retired high school teachers with a master’s in that field.”

According to Ingram, an adjunct is not allowed to teach more than eight hours per term or semester. Full-time faculty normally teach 12 credit hours per semester: four courses in the fall and four in the spring. If an adjunct was needed to teach nine hours or more, the university would be obligated to extend benefits, such as an offer to join the healthcare system and the retirement fund.

The policy handbook states: “adjunct faculty members are not eligible for fringe benefits, nor does service in this capacity lead to or count toward tenure or promotion to the regular academic ranks.”

Lee Vardaman, associate provost of academic affairs, explained how the number of hours taught is related to the extension of benefits to faculty members.

“By law, if you work 20 hours a week,”Vardaman said, “you must be included in the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The interesting thing about that is for a full-time faculty member, one argument could be made that teaching is roughly half of their workload.”

Teachers also have extra responsibilities outside of their course loads, such as advising and research, according to Vardaman.

“That nine hours comes in because it was the best rule of thumb we could come up with based on guidance from the regulatory commission and other groups,”Vardaman said. “Below nine hours, it does not meet the requirement to go into RSA (the Retirement Systems of Alabama) or receive benefits.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), along with specialized accreditation groups for 11 of Troy’s degree programs, determines the allocation of full-time and part-time faculty on campus.

SACS requires that 50 percent of the credit hours taught must be by full-time faculty.  The requirements set by SACS must be met in order for the university to receive accreditation.

Adjuncts are paid per course. At Troy University, adjuncts are paid around $2,400 per course, or around $800 per credit hour, Ingram said. He said Troy pays adjuncts about 80 percent more than community colleges pay to teach the same nine hour course.

Ingram said that many part-time faculty hired are full-time faculty at another institution.

According to Ingram, faculty costs equal one-third of the total university budget.

“It must be tightly managed. If it gets out of control, it will drive up tuition,”Ingram said.

If you have any personal stories about teaching as an adjunct or have experiences learning under the guidance of an adjunct,  email the Tropolitan at newswire@tropnews.com