UMaine Relying More on Lower-Paid Professors as Budget Shrinks

From Bangor Daily News:

ORONO, Maine — Jason Canniff teaches 4½ college courses at the University of Maine: two freshman composition classes, one upper-level persuasive writing class and two courses in the honors college, one of which he co-teaches. Typically he works 60 hours a week instructing, grading papers and preparing lessons.

This week he has set up individual conferences with each of his 40 composition students to give them personal feedback on their writing.

“For the composition classes in particular, students benefit from a lot of one-on-one interaction,” he said on Friday. “That’s where the real teaching happens.”

For two semesters’ worth of work, plus one summer course that he will teach only if enough students sign up, Canniff will be paid $26,200.

The average full-time faculty salary at UMaine is around $80,000, according to Director of Public Relations Margaret Nagle. That includes lecturers, who work under an Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine contract, though they are not tenure-eligible.

“The pay is OK for the area,” said Canniff, who holds a master’s degree in poetry from UMaine. The adjunct faculty member is in debt and cannot make interest payments on his student loans, he said.

As the budget shrinks and the number of freshmen grows, UMaine is relying more on faculty members like Canniff, who are not on a path to tenure and are paid less than professors. This trend has been exacerbated by a $36 million budget shortfall systemwide, $9.7 million of which UMaine must come up with in order to pass a balanced budget for fiscal year 2015.

As part of that effort, 30 faculty members at UMaine who have left or are leaving teaching positions will not be replaced. Most of those positions were tenured, according to Jeffrey Hecker, provost and vice president for academic affairs. He identified music and English as departments that will be hit particularly hard as a result of the budget cuts.

To help serve a freshman class that is expected to grow for the third straight year, the university will hire eight teaching fellows, four lecturers and 10 graduate teaching assistants on fixed-length contracts.

“UMaine is part of the national conversation about how we keep education affordable,” said Hecker.

“We’ve responded to these factors by developing a plan that would get us through FY ’15,” he said, referring to the university’s plan to pass a balanced budget. He said the university is attempting to “meet our needs and commitments, while we develop a more thoughtful, longer-range plan.”

Read the full story here.