Adjuncts, or part-time professors, make up the majority of faculty on university campuses and do the most teaching but receive the lowest pay — $22,500 per year, on average. And some adjuncts at UCF agree that for the amount of work they put in, they don’t make nearly enough to sustain a stable lifestyle.
Documents from the UCF Office of the Provost’s hiring guide define adjunct positions as “ temporary, non-benefit eligible faculty appointments paid from Other Personnel Services (OPS) funds.”
According to a USA Today article, a letter written by former adjunct professor Joseph Fruscione and nine other educators across the nation stated that “about two-thirds of college professors today are hired on a part-time basis, work on semesterlong contracts and are prevented from earning tenure.”
Here at UCF, Jennifer Flynn is an adjunct in the department of Writing and Rhetoric.
On average, Flynn teaches about five classes per semester at UCF and two classes at Valencia College, making just about $2,200 per class.
Flynn said she is lucky she does not live in a single-family household, because then her adjunct salary would be her only source of income.
However, many adjuncts are from single-income homes and struggle to make a living.
“I have friends who have to teach more than five classes per semester, in addition to waitressing or working retail, just to make ends meet,” Flynn said.
Bruce Farcau believes that adjuncts do a great deal of teaching compared to everyone else, and therefore deserve an increase in pay.
Farcau is a 12-year UCF adjunct who teaches political science and international relations courses at both UCF and Valencia College. Farcau teaches eight classes and receives approximately $3,000 per course per semester.
“This is my second career,” Farcau said. “I would die if I took away my other sources of income. An adjunct salary is not nearly enough to live on.”
However, not everyone agrees that adjunct pay should be raised.
Maria Beckman, an adjunct and the director of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Program, said that while adjuncts receive low pay for the amount of work they put in, she believes that they get the reward of teaching and experience.
Beckman said that adjuncts know the pay before going into the job, and therefore don’t do it for the money, but for the love of teaching.
“It is pretty standard for adjuncts to be paid a low salary, but in the future the university could try to reduce its dependency on adjuncts and create more full-time positions,” Beckman said.
But Dianne Richardson, a UCF adjunct of two years, disagrees with this viewpoint.
“It isn’t fair to say that your time isn’t worth the money,” Richardson said.
Richardson believes that adjuncts should be paid more because they are the people giving the students the knowledge they need to complete their degrees.
Although it is the adjuncts doing the groundwork, Richardson points out that the administrators and university presidents are the people making six figures and getting continuous salary increases.
“I should get more money, and I have made more money waitressing, which doesn’t even require a degree, while being an adjunct does,” Richardson said.
It is because of the poor pay that Richardson will no longer teach at UCF after this semester.
“Since I am not getting paid for my time outside of the classroom, I hardly stay on campus past my office hours and I feel disconnected from my coworkers,” Richardson said. “I am a college professor who can’t afford to pay bills and buy groceries on a regular basis.”
Dennis Reussow, director of UCF’s budget office, said that every year the university looks at the most pressing needs. Right now the most pressing matter is adding additional faculty.
“We will discuss raising adjunct pay, but I’m not promising that anything will happen,” Reussow said. “Right now, the primary focus is faculty.”
Alexis George is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.