Number of adjuncts growing

BY ARIANA WITT | MARCH 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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University of Iowa officials say using adjunct professors, who teach part-time and don’t receive benefits, is one way the university is saving money during the budget crisis.

Adjuncts are the fastest growing position at the UI, increasing 19 percent in the last five years. The number of permanent faculty increased 6 percent in the same time.

“You don’t have a university without adjuncts,” said Jeffrey Snowbarger, a UI adjunct professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Tom Rice, the UI associate provost for faculty, said adjuncts are valuable to the university, especially during budget cuts, because they have the primary role of teaching, not research. Still, some adjuncts would like a bigger paycheck.

A survey by the American Federation of Teachers released last week suggests 57 percent of adjuncts such as those at the UI accept their jobs for teaching experience, not for the money.

“Adjuncts do this on the side and know it’s meant to be part-time,” Rice said.

Snowbarger works as a fishing expert when he’s not teaching creative writing for the liberal-arts school, but said he would accept a permanent, full-time job if university officials offered one.

“Because my wife and I just had a child, I worry about stability,” he said.

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In the fall of 2009, the UI employed 2,351 adjunct faculty members, only one of whom was full-time. That’s roughly 150 more than permanent professors.

Most UI adjuncts are appointed during or after finishing a graduate program. An adjunct’s salary varies by college and semester hours.

In the Tippie College of Business, adjuncts’ wages range between $5,000 and $10,000 for a three semester-hour course, said Charles Whiteman, an associate dean for the school. The average wage has increased modestly in the past five years, he said.

Though the liberal-arts school is in the midst of a budget-related salary freeze, the college has also increased pay among part-time faculty in recent years, said Patricia Arkema, the college’s manager of financial analysts.

Adjuncts represent nearly one-third of the college’s faculty.

As part-time instructors, adjuncts are not eligible for such UI benefits as health care or retirement plans, so they look to other jobs.

Rice said adjunct positions will continue to be important for the UI, and adjuncts are welcome to apply for permanent faculty positions.

UI officials also acknowledge that the part-time positions aren’t a permanent cost-cutting solution.

“Our goal is always more permanent faculty,” Rice said. “The problem is we expect our permanent faculty to have a Ph.D. and an active research record, and adjuncts usually don’t.”

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