Faculty concerns about the future of tenure at the College of Law and its implications for the University, combined with questions about a to-be-announced change in pay structure for the University’s underpaid adjuncts point to a disturbing trend of devaluing educators and, by extension, education.
The recent announcement of the University’s plans to downgrade the College of Law from an American Bar Association accredited school to Cal Bar program, which could function with fewer tenured faculty than are currently employed, has created a sense of unease that affects not only faculty across the University but students.
Tenure is critical to preserve the purpose of higher education. Tenure allows faculty to push the agenda, to think and express themselves freely, to express intellectual ideas and opinions – even those ideas and opinions that may be unpopular or contrary to administration – without, fear of losing their jobs for expressing those ideas.
Tenured faculty, who are secure in their jobs by virtue of having tenure, can dedicate themselves fully to their discipline and teaching. This is good for students.
Tenured faculty are there for office hours. They advise clubs, fraternities and sororities, as well as mentor students in a whole host of ways just by virtue of being there with a sense of safety and mutual commitment.
Many adjunct professor fill many of these roles, and they do so with the same passion and dedication as many of the tenured faculty. But they do so with less security, and a lot less money. Adjunct professors here currently earn about $4,000 to $5,000 a class, which given the time they put in, comes to a full-time salary of less than half of their tenured counterparts – or a kindergarten teacher in the Claremont Unified School District for that matter, who earns on average $66,000 a year.
Some have to drive around from one college to another to piece together enough classes to earn a living wage. And while some of them do a great job at it, it’s not the healthiest arrangement for them.
The current uncertainty of adjunct pay structure here adds to adjuncts’ stress. The health and well-being of the professors directly reflects on the students.
Faculty, whether they are tenured, tenure track or adjunct, deserve to be treated with the respect they have earned, and not undervalued.