Will Part-Time Faculty ever be treated with dignity?
In my 23 years of teaching freshmen composition at Kennesaw State University as a part-time faculty member, I have overcome so many slaps in the face by the Board of Regents (BoR) for the University System of Georgia (USG) as well as whoever is sitting in the governor’s seat at the time. Raises here, improved benefits there, but sadly, none of these job perks ever filter down to my level because the governor and the BoR see part-time faculty as less than worthy even though without us most state colleges and universities could not open their doors each semester. That is why this week’s news from Governor Kemp’s office is, yet again, a hard slap in the face.
In February 2021 Governor Kemp and the Georgia State legislature announced a $1,000 bonus for state employees making less than $80,000 per year. Soon after making the announcement, the Board of Regents confirmed that this one-time bonus applied ONLY to full-time USG employees. I took issue with this as did thousands of other part-time faculty across the state. The BoR’s actions signaled to us that part-time faculty were not worthy of fair treatment. We were left out of the COVID related bonus even though we were on the front lines too, making it possible for state institutions to keep their doors open during the pandemic.
Fast forward to March 2022, and Governor Kemp has made yet another grand gesture. In a statement released to campus this week, the governor’s office announced an amended budget item that will provide a $5,000 cost of living adjustment for state employees. Was this cause for excitement—yes if you are a full-time employee of the USG. However, once again, the governor excluded part-time, non-benefited employees who work less than 30 hours per week. And I might add here, most if not all part-time faculty I know work far more than 30 hours per week even though we are discouraged from reporting our true time. The state would be forced to offer us health insurance coverage and other employee benefits otherwise. Yes, you heard that right!
Let’s look at the some of the numbers. Georgia’s state colleges and universities employ thousands of part-time faculty every semester. At my institution alone, there were almost 900 part-time faculty on the Open Records spreadsheet for 2021. However, most surprising was the huge range of pay. The highest was $75,000 for a person teaching two courses, one in spring and one in fall, followed by $68,587 for a person also teaching two courses for the year. And get this—the $75,000 a year person is a trustee on the KSU Foundation. Meanwhile, my pay for teaching six classes in 2021 was $17,325. If you wish to look at the salaries of part-timers or any employees at your school, go to https://open.ga.gov/.
The Board of Regents and obviously the Governor too refuse to acknowledge us or treat us equitably. We are some of the lowest paid workers in the university system, and unlike many full time, low paid staff, we are not eligible for benefits whether our actual hours meet the federal threshold or not. Yet, advanced degrees are required to teach at KSU even if you teach only part-time. So why are part-time faculty being treated the way we are by Governor Kemp, the Board of Regents, institutional administrators, and others who support this extremely unfair system?
Fellow part-timers, the time is now--time for part-time faculty throughout the state to stand up, to organize, and to demand to be treated with dignity.
Sign the pledge to fight for dignity for part time faculty!