Teaching While Poor: Adjunct Professors and the Fight for Fair Wages

From The Nation, amazing video chronicling the fight for fair wages in higher education:
If there’s one area that isn’t contributing to our historic levels of student debt, it’s adjunct professor’s pay. More than half of all college professors in the United States are adjuncts, working only “part-time.” One in three of them lives near or below the poverty line, and one in four is on some form of public assistance. The average salary for an adjunct professor is just $22,500. University and college presidents make an average of 18 times more than that.”
For more on the president-to-faculty pay ratio at USC click here. (Hint: it’s worse than you think.)
Make sure to check out the full video over at The Nation.
 

A Multigenerational Hit: Student Debt Traps Parents and Kids

From the AP’s Josh Boak, more on rising student debt loads and the long term effects on families:
“America’s crushing surge of student debt, now at $1.2 trillion, has bred a disturbing new phenomenon: School loans that span multiple generations within families. Weighed down by their own loans, many parents lack the means to fund their children’s educations without sinking even deeper into debt.” 
USC is no exception. The average borrower is now looking at $28,474 in undergraduate student debt upon graduation.1

Among all universities in the country, USC is ranked 5th in graduate student loan debt. That’s $460 million of debt to USC graduate students in 2013-2014.2

Read the whole article here.


1 SOURCE: College Insight indicates USC’s graduates average $28,474 in debt upon graduation: http://college-insight.org/#spotlight/go&h=0ec593691290fb03da41effda3bf4911
2 SOURCE: Center for American Progress Analysis of U.S. Department of Education Data: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/data-center/student/title-iv

Houses, Cars, and Massive Bonuses: The Perks of Being a University Executive

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked quite a bit about the rising cost of tuition here at USC. We’ve also discussed how that money might not be going to the places you think. Like the classroom.
 
As the price of tuition continues to climb, USC has driven down the cost of instruction by hiring the majority of our faculty into temporary, contingent positionsoffering low pay and no job security.
 
At the same time, executive compensation at USC has skyrocketed. Take a look:
PayCompGraphic-copy4
 
As The Atlantic recently pointed out, the income disparities between university faculty and administrators are “an important indication of a given higher-education institution’s fiscal priorities”. We couldn’t agree more.
 
The widening wage gap between faculty and administrators is troubling, to say the least. But the millions in executive compensation are just the beginning.
 
Just check out all the perks:
 
USC provides President Nikias with a private car and driver.2
 
Allows President Nikias to live in a $2.3 million dollar, 12,000 square foot mansion rent-free.3
 
USC paid out over $2.6 million in executive bonuses in CY 2013.4 That’s a 54% increase since 2009.
 
USC pays for health and social club memberships for Nikias and other top executives.5
 
USC pays for personal financial planning services for top executives.6
 
USC made an estimated $7.5 million in home loans to top executives between 2009 and 2014.7
 
Tuition is rising.
 
Faculty are struggling.
 
USC executives are doing better than ever.
 
 


 
1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Title IV participating institutions: Public, 2 year and 4 year and above; Private, not-for-profit, 4 year and above; For-profit, 2 year and 4 year and above. Institution employees (excluding medical school)- all staff with faculty status that are Tenured, On Tenure Track or Not on Tenure Track/No Tenure System, Fall 2013 and Fall 2003. Contingent refers to all employees with faculty status Not on Tenure Track/Tenure System.
2. University of Southern California FY 2014 IRS form 990 received by request from the institution.
3. University of Southern California FY 2014 IRS form 990 received via request from institution and LA County Assessor records for 1550 Oak Grove, San Marino, CA. http://assessor.lacounty.gov/extranet/DataMaps/Pais.aspx
4. University of Southern California FY 2014 IRS form 990 received by request of the instituion and University of Southern California FY 2014 IRS form 990 received by request from institution
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. University of Southern California FY 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 IRS 990 forms. 2009. 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 990s retrieved from Guidestar.org on 1/27/15. 2014 990 received by request from the institution.
 

The Corporatization of Higher Education: With a System That Caters to the 1 Percent, Students and Faculty Get Screwed

Fed up with a higher education system that prioritizes profits above all else, students and faculty are fighting back against exploitation in universities across the country. From Salon:
“Per-course pay for adjunct faculty averages around $2,800. Three courses is typically considered full-time. Trevithick is teaching six. At the average rate, if he did that in both spring and fall — the equivalent of working 80 hours a week, 10 months of the year — he’d make less than $34,000 pre-tax. And that’s at the high end: According to a 2014 congressional report, the median salary for an adjunct was $22,041. 
This exploitation of low-wage faculty is part of what’s known as the corporatization of higher education. Increasingly, both public and private colleges are being run on the cost-cutting model of American business. Which presents a burning question: If faculty are being paid less, class sizes are growing and tuition is higher than ever, where is the money going?”
Head over to Salon for the full article.

The Plight of The Adjunct Professor

Emily Maloney at the Georgia Political Review outlines the real problems faced by faculty and students when universities drive down the cost of instruction through the use of cheap academic labor:
“At the end of the day, adjuncts all over the country are often highly educated, compassionate, effective teachers that make a difference in their students’ lives every single semester. When they enter the profession, they are hoping to be lifelong educators, researchers, and mentors, but the university system is not allowing them to fulfill these goals. Universities need to be held accountable for their treatment of these professors both on a humanitarian basis, but also from the perspective of providing the best resources and educational experiences to students.”
Read the whole article here.

At USC, Our Administrator-to-Faculty Pay Ratio is a Major Problem

 
Last week, the Daily Trojan highlighted a very real problem on campus – a sharp increase in high-paying administrative positions that has “substantially outpaced increases in faculty hiring and (student) enrollment”.
 
This focus on the business of education, rather than student learning, is part of a disturbing trend in higher education that has been well documented at campuses across the country.
 
That doesn’t make the numbers any less shocking. Again, from the Daily Trojan:
 
“Amid concern over rising tuition, USC has seen a 305.8 percent increase in hired administrative employees over a 25 year period, while the number of enrolled students has only increased by 66.3 percent, according to a study by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and the American Institutes for Research which looked at data from 1987 until the 2011-12 academic year.”
 
AdminBloatGraphic copy
 
This boom in non-academic hiring is certainly troubling, but these percentages only tell us part of the story. As USC hires more and more administrators, they are driving down the cost of instruction by offering our faculty low-paid, temporary employment with no job security and little or no benefits.
 
In order to fully understand the scope of the problem, it’s necessary to compare faculty salaries to those of USC administrators. Inspired by Laura McKenna’s recent piece in The Atlantic, we’ve pulled together the best data available on the growing income gap between positions devoted to the delivery of higher education, and those positions dedicated to the business of higher education.
 
As we’ve discussed previously, the majority of USC faculty are hired on temporary, semester-to-semester or year-to-year contracts. These faculty – often referred to as adjunct or contingent faculty – comprise 69%¹ of our university’s educational workforce.
 
Contingent faculty teach the majority of classes on campus, but despite their critical role, many are barely making ends meet. A recent survey of contingent faculty at USC found that on average, our professors are making $5,044² per course.
 
This means that a contingent faculty member teaching full time, or 6 classes per year, is making $30,264 annually.
 
Even worse, the vast majority of contingent faculty aren’t even offered full-time schedules, forcing them to work second and third jobs just to survive.
 
So how does that compare to spending on administrative positions? Let’s take a look:
 

 

As Laura McKenna points out, the income disparities between college faculty and administrators are “an important indication of a given higher-education institution’s fiscal priorities”. If we calculate the CEO-to-worker pay ratio at USC – in higher education this is a calculation of president-to-faculty pay – the numbers are striking.
 

President Nikias made more than $1.9 million in total compensation last year. That’s over 64 times as much as a contingent faculty member teaching a full load.
 

And it’s not just a few high earners. The average managerial salary at USC is $101,594 per year³. That’s over three times as much as a contingent faculty member teaching full-time.
 

For years, USC has embraced a business model of education that prioritizes administrative salaries over academic spending. In 2014 alone, the university spent upwards of $162 million on management4 – the 4th most of any institution in the country5.
 

It’s not just a boom in administrative bloat that should have us concerned, but also the rate at which administrative and executive compensation has outpaced spending on our university’s educators and investment in our core educational mission.
 

Tuition is more expensive than ever, but many of our faculty are struggling to make ends meet.
 

As USC prioritizes spending on lavish administrative and executive salaries over investment in student learning, it begs the question:
 

WTF are we paying for?
 


 

1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Title IV participating institutions: Public, 2 year and 4 year and above; Private, not-for-profit, 4 year and above; For-profit, 2 year and 4 year and above. Institution employees (excluding medical school)- all staff with faculty status that are Tenured, On Tenure Track or Not on Tenure Track/No Tenure System, Fall 2013 and Fall 2003. Contingent refers to all employees with faculty status Not on Tenure Track/Tenure System.
2. This is a calculation of the average part-time faculty pay across self-reported data in an SEIU Faculty Survey (Social Work; Cinematic Arts; Architecture; Public Policy), as well as faculty appointment letters (Letters, Arts, and Sciences; Art and Design; Social Work; Dramatic Arts; Public Policy). Average pay for reports of salary per hour was multiplied by 10 hours per week and 15weeks in a semester. Otherwise, appointment letters indicated pay per week, how many hours, and how many weeks designated per course. Pay per unit was then calculated as the total course pay divided by number of units per that course. Average per 1 unit pay was calculated, then multiplied by 3 to calculate the “Average Pay of Part-Time USC Faculty per 3-unit course.” For all faculty, the data was taken from the most current year or semester available.
3. National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database: Total Management Outlays 2013-2014 school year for all Title IV receiving U.S. schools. Retrieved at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/Default.aspx on 6/17/15.
4. National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database: Total Management Outlays 2013-2014 school year for all Title IV receiving U.S. schools. Retrieved at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/Default.aspxon 6/17/15.
5. National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database: Total Management Outlays 2013-2014 school year for all Title IV receiving U.S. schools. Retrieved at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/Default.aspxon 6/17/15.

Higher Education's Reliance on Adjuncts Has Consequences

In the Tampa Bay Times, Kym O’Sullivan speaks out about academia’s dirty little secret:
“Students are often clueless about the situation, believing all professors to be full time, but adjuncts are so disconnected from campus life that the classroom experience is diminished. For instance, we don’t have our own offices, so we must cart our supplies in rolling suitcases, making it easy to forget assignments or lose essays. We have no phone lines, so students must reach us via e-mail, which can be inefficient.
Furthermore, our time on campus is limited, making it difficult for students to locate us outside of the classroom. Full-time professors interact with their student body all day, every day, while adjuncts are available only a few hours a week.
The most trying issue for adjuncts, however, is the lack of decent compensation.”
69% of USC faculty work in temporary, non-tenured positions.
69%.
Read the full story here.

The College President-to-Adjunct Pay Ratio

A great piece from The Atlantic’s Laura McKenna:
“While income inequality in higher education isn’t as high as Chipotle, it does rival that of other publicly traded corporations, including Nike, IBM, and Motorola.
State schools with the highest-paid presidents seem to be offsetting their administrative bloat with cheaper labor.”
Just a reminder: USC President Nikias raked in over $1.9 million in total compensation from the university last year.
Head over to The Atlantic for the full story.
 

USC Sees Increase in Administrative Staff

From the Daily Trojan:
“Amid concern over rising tuition, USC has seen a 305.8 percent increase in hired administrative employees over a 25 year period, while the number of enrolled students has only increased by 66.3 percent, according to a study by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and the American Institutes for Research which looked at data from 1987 until the 2011-12 academic year.
The administrative increase comes during a time when colleges have claimed it necessary to both cut costs and raise tuition. The increase in university staffers who neither conduct research nor teach has continued, slowing only slightly during the economic downturn.”
Read the whole story here.

Back to School: The Price We Pay in 4 Graphics

Fall semester is in full swing, and our campus is buzzing with activity. The first weeks of back on campus are always an exciting time for students and faculty, and this year is no exception.
 
This year, however, we’re paying special attention to university priorities, and working hard to ensure university resources are going to the places they’re needed most.
 
As you may have noticed, students are paying more than ever before to attend classes at USC. Since 2001 tuition has increased 92%, and this year will be our most expensive yet.
 
tuition
As tuition continues to climb, we all pay the price: students, parents, faculty, and the community.
 
 Many Trojans rely on student loans to cover the cost of tuition, and as a result, these students and their families are taking on greater amounts of student debt than any generation before them.
 
At USC, the average borrower is now looking at $28,474 in undergraduate student debt upon graduation.1
 
 Among all universities in the country, USC is ranked 5th in graduate student loan debt. That’s $460 million of debt to USC graduate students in 2013-2014.2
 
So where’s all that money going?
 
It’s not going to our talented Trojan faculty, who are working harder than ever to deliver a world-class education to students. Despite their dedication, the majority of our professors work in contingent, part-time positions offering low pay, limited benefits, and no job security. In fact, 69% of USC faculty work in contingent positions, hired on temporary, semester-to-semester contracts.3
 
contingemt
 
Being a professor – once a stable, middle-class career – has become a low-wage, precarious job with an uncertain future.
 
We have seen a dramatic shift away from investment in university educators and affordable, accessible higher education for students. Instead of investing in student learning, our university has continued to dump money into lavish infrastructure projects and bloated administrative salaries.
 
As evidenced in an analysis of USC’s expenses, “Other Salaries and Wages” remains the single largest expense category, and has increased twice as much as faculty salaries over the last 4 years.
 
expense
 
And USC top 8 executive compensation has more than tripled since 2001.
 
top8
 
Faculty are working harder without job security, for lower pay, and with less institutional support than ever before. Students and parents are paying more than ever, and taking on debt that could hold them back for years to come.
 
With assets totaling over $10 billion, our university has the resources and capacity to make drastic improvements for students and faculty. Instead, USC continues to drive the widening gap of income inequality in Los Angeles through skyrocketing tuition and unstable, temporary employment for faculty.
 
This corporate model of education runs contrary to our educational mission.
 
It’s time for a change. Together we can hold USC accountable.
 
 Our university needs to invest the proper amount in instruction, giving our professors the support they need to deliver quality education to students.
 
No longer can USC prioritize profits over the stability of student education. Students and families should not be faced with a lifetime of crippling student debt. Faculty should not be living check-to-check while our university rakes in millions.
 
Tuition funds should support student learning, not line clash royale free gems the pockets of wealthy administrators and corporate board members.
 
We are united to fight for a better USC, and this year we’re taking action.
 
Stay tuned as we fight for quality, affordable education for students and good jobs for faculty.
 
Get involved:
Sign up for regular updates and campus action alerts here.
Have you been affected by our university’s business model of education? Share your story here.
Share this image on Facebook and Twitter:
bts2
———

1 SOURCE: College Insight indicates USC’s graduates average $28,474 in debt upon graduation: http://college-insight.org/#spotlight/go&h=0ec593691290fb03da41effda3bf4911
2 SOURCE: Center for American Progress Analysis of U.S. Department of Education Data: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/data-center/student/title-iv
3 SOURCE: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Title IV participating institutions: Public, 2 year and 4 year and above; Private, not-for-profit, 4 year and above; For-profit, 2 year and 4 year and above. Institution employees (excluding medical school)- all staff with faculty status that are Tenured, On Tenure Track or Not on Tenure Track/No Tenure System, Fall 2013 and Fall 2003. Contingent refers to all employees with faculty status Not on Tenure Track/Tenure System.