Known as adjuncts, their work supplements the courses taught by full-time faculty members. An adjunct at JSU earns $1,500 per semester for teaching an undergraduate course and $1,750 for a graduate course.
“It hasn’t changed in years,” said Teresa Gardner, president of the faculty senate. “We’re just trying to do what we can to attract the best faculty we can.”
That figure is well below the preliminary national average calculated by the American Association of University Professors. According to the association, an adjunct nationally, on average, receives $2,700 for the same work that earns a JSU adjunct $1,500.
Last week, Gardner asked the university’s board of trustees to consider the raise. If the faculty senate’s request is honored, adjuncts at JSU would earn $3,000 for teaching undergraduate classes and $3,500 for teaching graduate courses.
By contrast, Troy University pays its adjuncts about $2,300 to teach undergraduate courses and about $2,400 to teach graduate courses, said Deb Gearhart, director of eTROY, Troy’s online education program. She added that salary standards are generally different for each region of the United States.
John Curtis, director of research and public policy for the association, said its figure of $2,700 per course includes data collected from a 2010 survey that included information from across the nation. The survey data has not been broken down by region, he said.
Gardner’s request, made on behalf of the faculty senate, was passed to the University Budget Committee. The committee will review the recommendation before the board’s next meeting in April, a university official said in an email.
JSU President Bill Meehan said he didn’t know if adjunct faculty members would receive a raise next year. He added that officials are aware that adjuncts are paid less at JSU than at other institutions.
“That’s been an issue we’ve looked at for several years,” Meehan said. “We’ve known that our adjunct salaries need to be addressed.”
But finding the funds to pay adjuncts more money will not be easy and the state’s education trust fund remains depleted, Meehan said. This year, he said, the institution opted to give full-time faculty and staff a 3 percent raise instead.
“We have a lot of things we have to consider for next year’s budget,” Meehan said.
Gardner said at a board meeting last week that more pay would help the university retain qualified instructors.
“We will have a higher quality instructor and we will not have the problem of the deans constantly struggling to find someone,” Gardner said while meeting with the board.
In fall 2011, 27 percent of courses at JSU were taught by adjunct faculty members. A typical adjunct at JSU teaches several courses and earns $6,587 each year. In contrast, the average salary for a full-time professor at JSU is $62,949.
The last time adjuncts received a raise was in 2001, when their pay increased to $1,500 (from $1,000) for undergraduate courses and to $1,750 (from $1,250) for graduate courses.
Nationally, part-time faculty members account for about half of the teaching staff in colleges and universities, said Curtis.
He also said that when faculty members are underpaid, instruction suffers.
Adjunct faculty members often lack university offices, lack university phone numbers and are not paid for helping students outside of the classroom. Additionally, they are either trying to earn full-time pay by teaching between four and six courses at multiple institutions, or they are teaching in addition to holding a full-time job, Curtis said.
“It’s hard to say whether it hurts (universities’) ability to recruit because there are people who are willing to do this work,” Curtis said. “It hurts their ability to have faculty members who are fully engaged.”
Star staff writer Laura Johnson at 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.