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September 26, 2013

BPC wants pay info for adjunct faculty

The University Senate budget policies committee will reactivate a subcommittee to gather comprehensive pay figures for adjunct faculty at Pitt.

BPC co-chair Beverly Gaddy asked to revisit adjunct pay issues in the wake of widespread distribution of a column, “Death of an Adjunct,” that appeared Sept. 18 in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The column, written by Daniel Kovalik, described the dire financial situation of longtime Duquesne University adjunct faculty member Mary Margaret Vojtko, who died sick and in poverty earlier this month at age 83. Kovalik wrote that, as an adjunct, Vojtko worked semester to semester with no benefits and, with a teaching load of one course per term, was earning less than $10,000 a year before she was let go last spring. Kovalik, an adjunct faculty member in Pitt’s law school, is senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers union, which has been attempting to organize Duquesne adjuncts.

The column went viral in social media and sparked coverage in higher education industry publications.

Gaddy said, “There’s been a lot of discussion about the Post-Gazette article that’s been sent out widely. I’ve received a lot of responses to that myself and I think it’s an issue we should revisit.”

Phil Wion, a pro-tem BPC member who serves on the subcommittee, advocated for meeting with Pitt administrators to determine what information could be obtained.

He said BPC typically doesn’t receive information on part-time or adjunct faculty salaries as part of the faculty salary reports it reviews each year, so it must rely on anecdotal information about salary ranges, which vary across the University. “We haven’t got a systematic account of what average salaries or median salaries are,” Wion said. “So, whether there are adjuncts or part-time faculty at Pitt making less per course than the Duquesne University faculty member about whom the article was written, we don’t have official information.”

University Senate President Michael Spring told BPC that the Senate is increasing its attention to non-tenure stream faculty issues, citing an ad hoc committee endorsed by Faculty Assembly earlier this month. (See Sept. 12 University Times.)

The subcommittee was created to “examine policies, issues and concerns relating to non-tenure stream faculty, both part-time and full-time, with an eye to making sure that whatever those issues might be — if any exist — are being covered by existing standing committees. And if something is not, potentially assigning it to a standing committee or seeing where else it might be handled,” Spring explained.

“The belief is that in the changing fabric of faculty, there may be benefits concerns, there may be bylaws changes, there may be any number of things — that while they’re being addressed by various schools and departments and by the provost’s office, it may be that the Senate wants to look at how they’re being addressed within the standing Senate committees.”

In other business:

• In a closed session, BPC received an update on the proposals to suspend the graduate programs in German and classics and to close the graduate program in religious studies. (See June 13 University Times.) BPC’s role is to monitor whether University policies have been followed.

• Arthur G. Ramicone, chief financial officer, said the attribution study for fiscal year 2012 has been completed. The report, which details revenues and expenses attributable to each of the University’s academic units and other responsibility centers, must be approved by the University planning and budgeting committee (UPBC) before BPC can review it.

UPBC’s next full meeting will be in February.

• The committee elected officers for the 2013-14 academic year. John J. Baker was re-elected as chair; Beverly Gaddy, co-chair; Chandraleka Singh, vice chair, and Adriana Maguina-Ugarte, secretary.

Baker announced that a one-year and a two-year term on the committee are open because two BPC members who are retired from the University are not attending regularly. Wion agreed to fill the one-year term.

• Committee meetings were set for the fall term. BPC will meet at 1:05 p.m. Oct. 18 and Nov. 15. According to Baker, BPC will not meet in December unless committee business warrants.

Meetings will be held in 156 Cathedral of Learning, unless presentation technology is needed. Baker cautioned that the Oct. 18 meeting could be moved to accommodate presentation of the annual Association of American Universities peer group salary report, which tentatively is on the committee’s agenda.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 3

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