Thirteen years ago, Dr. Amy Luedtke worked in the student development office at Indiana Wesleyan University. One semester in 2000, she received an opportunity to teach a Psychology class on the side. Since then, Luedtke works as an adjunct professor, and loves every minute of it.
“I didn’t know that I loved to teach until I got that chance to do that,” Luedtke said. “Just being able to get in front of students, engage with them and push them to think.”
According to a New York Times article, adjunct professors — faculty members who work part-time teaching a class or multiple classes, — part-time professors, graduate assistants and full-time professors not on the tenure track make up 76 percent of faculty in colleges and universities. The American Association of University Professors released this information in its 2013 annual report.
IWU full-time professors, however, are not on the tenure track.
Despite the number, which is at an all-time high, the article stated this hurts universities because of the lack of a full-time presence in a classroom. Dr. Darlene Bressler, dean for the college of arts and sciences, said she doesn’t want this trend of using part-time professors to transfer to IWU.
“We have wonderful adjuncts who are effective adjunct teachers,” Bressler said. “But, we are a residential campus where we have a mission of an integrated educational experience that nurtures the whole student.”
Bressler said IWU selects adjuncts to sometimes provide a real-life example of a worker in a specific profession.
“We often want people who are active in a particular field of study. So they are out in the marketplace,” Bressler said. “Adjuncts bring a rich set of experience into the classroom that complement that of full-time faculty members.”
According to Bressler, for the 2012-2013 school year, 18 percent of the credit hours college of arts and sciences faculty teach come from adjunct professors. Some of these adjuncts work in other principal academic units, such as the Seminary, and teach an adjunct job in CAS on the side. Bressler did say this number excludes private music lesson professors and supervisors for education practicums.
Bressler said adjuncts are paid by the credit hour, and it also depends on their qualifications. She didn’t say how much, but Bressler did say it’s “within the range of institutions in the state of Indiana.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education — a news source for higher education — created a website called The Adjunct Project that asks adjunct professors to submit their salaries online. This way, the public can know how much adjuncts are paid for a specific school and department.
Each of the submissions is based on a three-hour credit course. If an adjunct doesn’t teach a three-hour credit course, the website has a calculator to determine the three-credit hour equivalent. It’s then separated by department, and has a median — or average — pay for each department.
For IWU, there are only four adjunct jobs posted. Two are through business management, and the median pay is $1,143. One is pre-licensure nursing at $2,700. And the final job is a leadership studies position at $2,589. The median pay across all submissions for IWU among the four is $2,107. The state of Indiana is $2,700.
Nationally, the median pay for adjuncts is $2,700 as well, according to the New York Times article. It also stated that the average salary for an assistant professor at a private university is $62,763.
The Division of Behavioral Sciences at IWU uses adjunct professors for most of its majors. Specifically, the division uses them for social work, criminal justice and psychology. Dr. Betty Jane Fratzke, division chair, said the division would be understaffed or overworked if it weren’t for adjuncts.
“They are cutting edge on what our kids are training to do,” Fratzke said. “But they also alleviate the load when we can’t quite yet hire another person.”
Fratzke said she’ll try a lot of different adjuncts, and if they work well, she’ll bring them back. Luedtke fits this category. Since Luedtke had a baby shortly after teaching her first class, she quit her job at student development, but kept the adjunct position. Fratzke worked around her schedule and found classes and times that worked for Luedtke and the division.
“I’ve been able to have the best of both worlds: A part time job, and a stay at home mom, like I’ve wanted,” Luedtke said.
According to Bressler, IWU selects an adjunct for a class if there isn’t a professor qualified to teach a class, or if there are more sections of a class than faculty in the division. This is the case for Intro to Psychology classes. There are eight sections, three taught by adjuncts.
Fratzke said if she takes the hours of all of the adjuncts that teach psychology classes, she could hire two new full-time professors.
“But it’s way more expensive for the school to hire two new full-time faculty than to hire several adjuncts,” Fratzke said.
In Luedtke’s case, she now teaches three classes, one away from full-time professorship. She said she hopes to be full time as soon as there’s an opening. Since her children are now older, she has more time for classes. Luedtke also wants them to have free tuition someday when they attend IWU.
When selecting and hiring adjuncts, Bressler said IWU makes sure they are “mission fit.” This is the standard for all staff and faculty to fit within the Christian standards of the university. An adjunct also needs to have a master’s degree to teach.
Bressler added that she wants full-time professors first and foremost for classes. Adjuncts have their place, but she said she’s interested in a holistic learning environment.
“If one is an adjunct, it’s less likely that you’re going to be connected tightly to this campus,” Bressler said. “Because if you’re trying to earn a living by putting together part time jobs, you’re getting paid to teach a course. Your mission isn’t necessarily to nurture the whole student. And institutions can’t support adjuncts in ways that enable them to do all that.”
For Luedtke, she’s found connections with students despite being an adjunct. She has taught for thirteen years, developed relationships with students and faculty and has her own office. Luedtke said some students have even asked her for marriage counseling after having her as a professor in the past.
“Those types of perks I get even though I’m not full time,” Luedtke said. “I still can earn trust with students. I love it.”