Help adjunct faculty at UMass Lowell

Chris Romano
Connector Staff

I am writing to show support for UMass Lowell adjunct faculty in their campaign to receive the same benefits that the rest of the UMass schools provide to their adjunct faculty. At UMass Lowell, the adjunct professors teach a majority of the freshmen and sophomore classes and should have access to the same types of benefits their other UMass adjunct colleagues receive.

As a student who has taken several classes with adjunct faculty, I’ve seen the extra effort the adjuncts put in to make sure students succeed inside and outside the classroom. Adjuncts are not required by UMass Lowell to hold office hours, serve on committees, or mentor students outside of class as the other UMass adjuncts are required to. However, UMass Lowell adjuncts still take on these roles after class even though they are paid less per course than the adjuncts at other UMass schools.

At UMass Amherst, the minimum amount an adjunct is paid per course is $6,500. The adjuncts in Boston make at least $5,000 per course. At UMass Lowell, adjuncts make a minimum of $4,400 per course. If the pay difference is not enough evidence, it’s worth noting that Lowell adjuncts do not receive health benefits or a pension. Adjuncts must pay out of pocket for health insurance, unlike their colleagues throughout the rest of the UMass system.

The Lowell administration offered a 2.5 percent pay increase per year, however this did not meet the adjuncts’ needs. The administration failed to offer health insurance or pension. Lowell is the only UMass that does not offer these benefits to their adjunct faculty.

Students, why should we care? Many of our first experiences with college educators are adjuncts. They help new students transition from high schoolers to college learners. They are the first to tell us to shape up our study habits for college. In many ways, our freshmen professors, adjunct or full time, help mold us into the students we become.

As UMass Lowell students, we should care about our educators. The adjunct faculty go far beyond what they are required to do in the classroom. When adjunct faculty offer office hours, we should be thankful. They are not being paid to provide this service to us students. The adjunct faculty at other UMass schools are paid for the out of class assistance. Though it is uncommon at UMass Lowell for a professor not to hold office hours, students, along with the university administration, must acknowledge the unpaid effort the adjuncts put in to their work.

On campus, there are almost as many adjunct faculty as there are full time faculty. Chances are, you’ve had multiple classes taught by an adjunct. These educators take the time that they are not required to, or paid to, so that we may become successful learners. I urge students to take the time to ask their adjunct educators how they can get involved in helping them achieve equal compensation for their work. They’ve already gone the extra mile; now it’s our turn.

Related posts

5 Comments

  1. Sara Backer said:

    One thing UMass Lowell students can do is enter an essay contest sponsored by the adjunct union. Write a 300-500 word essay about a UMass Lowell adjunct instructor who examples excellence in teaching by February 28 and you could win a prize of $100! Flyers are posted providing details, or email sara.orne at yahoo.com.

    • Debbie Scaduto White said:

      Thank you for your comments and support of adjuncts at UML. We are, as you have pointed out, treated differently from adjuncts at other UMASS campuses, although we do the same work (and it turns out, we do some of it without pay).

      UML’s mission is “to provide an affordable and accessible education of high quality and to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation and the world [my emphasis].” I would like a breakdown of how the university manages the affordability arm of its mission.

      I am curious to see how else the university is maintaining costs to keep education affordable besides denying adjuncts a living wage and benefits. Perhaps a spreadsheet of salaries would be a nice start so we can all see where and how the money is being spent and why the university cannot afford to pay its adjuncts a living wage with basic benefits that are in line with other UMASS campuses. (Of course, many salaries are available on http://massopenbooks.org/payrolls/). I am not suggesting higher tuition. I am not diminishing anyone’s role or efforts. Nor am I begrudging others for receiving compensation for their hard work. Rather, I am pointing out the gross inequities here at UML and its disparity with the UMASS system. If I weren’t so outraged, I’d be embarrassed to share my pitiful salary with others so publicly.

      Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can underpay us and leave us without benefits doesn’t mean you should. It’s not just about meeting your mission; it’s also about how you do that.

      And for the record, I am a resident of Lowell—part of the Commonwealth—and while UML might not be improving my life (though my particular department has been great to me), its students continue to. (Debbie White Philosophy Dept., Adjunct Instructor)

  2. Debbie Scaduto White said:

    Thank you for your comments and support of adjuncts at UML. We are, as you have pointed out, treated differently from adjuncts at other UMASS campuses, although we do the same work (and it turns out, we do some of it without pay).

    UML’s mission is “to provide an affordable and accessible education of high quality and to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation and the world [my emphasis].” I would like a breakdown of how the university manages the affordability arm of its mission.

    I am curious to see how else the university is maintaining costs to keep education affordable besides denying adjuncts a living wage and benefits. Perhaps a spreadsheet of salaries would be a nice start so we can all see where and how the money is being spent and why the university cannot afford to pay its adjuncts a living wage with basic benefits that are in line with other UMASS campuses. (Of course, many salaries are available on http://massopenbooks.org/payrolls/). I am not suggesting higher tuition. I am not diminishing anyone’s role or efforts. Nor am I begrudging others for receiving compensation for their hard work. Rather, I am pointing out the gross inequities here at UML and its disparity with the UMASS system. If I weren’t so outraged, I’d be embarrassed to share my pitiful salary with others so publicly.

    Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can underpay us and leave us without benefits doesn’t mean you should. It’s not just about meeting your mission; it’s also about how you do that.

    And for the record, I am a resident of Lowell—part of the Commonwealth—and while UML might not be improving my life (though my particular department has been great to me), its students continue to. (Debbie White, Philosophy Dept., Adjunct Instructor)

  3. Debbie Scaduto White said:

    Thank you for your comments and support of adjuncts at UML. We are, as you have pointed out, treated differently from adjuncts at other UMASS campuses, although we do the same work (and it turns out, we do some of it without pay).

    UML’s mission is “to provide an affordable and accessible education of high quality and to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation and the world [my emphasis].” I would like a breakdown of how the university manages the affordability arm of its mission.

    I am curious to see how else the university is maintaining costs to keep education affordable besides denying adjuncts a living wage and benefits. Perhaps a spreadsheet of salaries would be a nice start so we can all see where and how the money is being spent and why the university cannot afford to pay its adjuncts a living wage with basic benefits that are in line with other UMASS campuses. (Of course, many salaries are available on http://massopenbooks.org/payrolls/). I am not suggesting higher tuition. I am not diminishing anyone’s role or efforts. Nor am I begrudging others for receiving compensation for their hard work. Rather, I am pointing out the gross inequities here at UML and its disparity with the UMASS system. If I weren’t so outraged, I’d be embarrassed to share my pitiful salary with others so publicly.

    Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can underpay us and leave us without benefits doesn’t mean you should. It’s not just about meeting your mission; it’s also about how you do that.

    And for the record, I am a resident of Lowell—part of the Commonwealth—and while UML might not be improving my life (though my particular department has been great to me), its students continue to. (Debbie White, Philosophy Dept., Adjunct Instructor)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic