by Tara Morgan
Big potential changes are on the horizon for adjunct professors at Boise State, according to interdepartmental communications obtained by BW. On Tuesday, Oct. 26, the faculty senate will consider a proposal to limit to 19 the total number of credits that part-time faculty can teach in a 12-month period. That means adjunct professors will only be able to teach 6 classes over the course of a year, including Extended Studies summer courses. For some adjuncts, who currently teach around 21 credits during the school year and between 3 to 9 credits over the summer, that could mean a dramatic pay reduction.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of full-time faculty members teaching at post-secondary degree-granting institutions dropped from 77.9 percent in 1970 to 51.3 percent in 2007. The number of part-time, or adjunct professors, has continued to grow because institutions can pay them substantially less than tenured or tenure-track professors, and the universities don’t generally pay for insurance.
Faculty members at Boise State have expressed concerns through internal communications that this proposal might force long-term adjuncts to seek employment at other universities or take non-academic, part-time positions in the community. This carries the risk of greatly diminishing the level of academic commitment and focus from adjunct professors at Boise State. There are also financial concerns that this proposal will require additional part-time staff to be hired, trained, mentored and provided with office space, which could increase overall expenditures or lead to some courses being understaffed.
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