From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
In many ways, Anne Winkler-Morey loves being a professor. It’s the job she always wanted, teaching history at Metro State University.
Except for one thing. She has no benefits, no job security or even a desk to call her own. This year, she says, she’ll earn just $17,000.
It’s a far cry from the academic career she dreamed of while earning her doctorate at the University of Minnesota. She’s discovered the hard way that faculty jobs with a steady paycheck and a modicum of dignity are a shrinking minority in college classrooms.
For the first time, half of all college instructors are like Winkler-Morey: part-time adjunct professors who, critics say, are often trapped in a cycle of jobs that barely pay the rent.
“I spent 12 years training for this,” said Winkler-Morey, 55, of Minneapolis, who started teaching 20 years ago. “I was making more on unemployment than I am now.”
Now, adjuncts across the country are starting to join forces to demand better treatment.
“There’s a perception that college faculty have the easiest jobs and are very well paid,” said Maria Maisto, founder of the New Faculty Majority, a national advocacy group for adjuncts. “People are generally shocked, I think, when they discover what the conditions are.”
As an adjunct, Winkler-Morey says she has no problem getting teaching offers — but they’re almost always part time, temporary and a fraction of the pay that staff instructors get for the same classes.
It is, administrators admit, one way they’ve tried to fill gaps in the teaching ranks without locking themselves into long-term commitments.
“Yeah, it is a way to save money; I don’t see any way to get around that,” said Mike Reynolds, associate provost at Hamline University in St. Paul, where adjuncts now outnumber full-time professors.
For those on the front lines, the trend has been demoralizing.
“You certainly don’t go into becoming a professor thinking you’re going to be making poverty wages,” said SooJin Pate, who has a Ph.D. in American studies and made $15,000 as an adjunct at Macalester College last year.