Part-time instructors teaching majority of UGA classes

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Low-paid, part-time instructors who get no benefits now teach more students at the University of Georgia than traditional, full-time professors.

The university increased its cadre of part-time college teachers by 40 percent between 2002 and 2008, so UGA students now spend less than half their class time in courses taught by traditional professors.

UGA administrators say the move toward more part-timers will continue, at least until the state's budget picture improves.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has cut state appropriations to Georgia and other state universities by about 10 percent and proposes to do the same next year.

Five years ago, a task force co-chaired by Jere Morehead, vice president for instruction, called for more full-time faculty at UGA.

Instead, there are fewer, though administrators from President Michael Adams down say they would like to reverse the trend.

"We have not been able to make progress on those objectives," Morehead said.

UGA saves money in lean budget times by not replacing all the full-time faculty members who retire or leave UGA, as well as by increasing class sizes, according to Provost Arnett Mace.

Without saving money this way, the university would have to lay off workers, Mace said.

According to Morehead, by hiring more part-timers, UGA also is making sure students will be able to get the courses they need to graduate.

But the change to part-timers reduces the quality of a UGA degree, administrators, students and faculty all say.

"We have some great part-time faculty," Morehead said - but overall, tenure-track and tenured faculty are better teachers, he said.

A handful of recent research studies say the same, concluding that first-year students taught by part-time teachers are more likely to drop out than students taught by traditional faculty.

"Tenure-track faculty give the best instruction and the best field research. And they have better connections to people in the field," said senior Connor McCarthy, president of the UGA Student Government Association.

"It's a quick, easy fix to a serious problem," said Joe Hermanowicz, a sociology professor who won tenure at UGA. "You hire people who are not well-integrated with the chief mission of the university. You don't have the most well-trained and experienced individuals in the classroom."

The "quick fix" creates a class of highly educated poor people, said Hermanowicz, who presides over the faculty senate of the university's largest academic division, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

"They tend to be underpaid. They tend to be given overly heavy workloads," he said. "It's an exploitative way to get jobs done at low cost."

In some departments, part-time instructors sometimes teach four or five courses per semester, twice the normal load for a professor.

Years of work as a so-called part-time instructor took a toll on Athens artist Mary Porter.

"When I first did it, it was good. It was like going back to graduate school, and I was learning some things," Porter said. "But after a while, I just felt like it was draining."

At $3,000 a course, Porter figured her pay per hour was about the same as a cafeteria worker. Even graduate student workers in some departments earned more, she said.

Not only was the pay low, she received no benefits such as health insurance - not even a deduction for Social Security.

"It amazed me that they could ask so much professionally and pay so little," she said. "I could deal with the low pay, but when I realized I was losing my social benefits, I thought, 'I could retire in 20 years and not have any Social Security.' "

For now, administrators have little choice but to hire part-timers, McCarthy believes.

"I think we're basically doing with our money the best we can with the hand we've been dealt," he said.

Hermanowicz was more skeptical.

"The future is determined by the choices we make, and the rationales we have for making those decisions. We can make wise decisions or poor choices. We can make the decision to invest in bona fide faculty," he said.

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Longtime CSRA resident
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Longtime CSRA resident 02/02/09 - 11:20 am
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From July 1, 2007 through

From July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008, UGA President Michael Adams' salary was $595,487.04. He also received a travel reimbursement of $48,065.18. His travel reimbursement alone was almost 50 grand !! Go to www.open.georgia.gov and see for yourself. Why so much $$ for the president's salary and travel?

yellow cat
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yellow cat 02/02/09 - 12:32 pm
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Most of the money starting

Most of the money starting with elementary schools goes to administrators. It is a shame so much money is spent on administrators.
The teachers and professors who are doing the work is getting paid so little. And we wonder why good teachers are leaving.

concercitizen
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concercitizen 02/02/09 - 12:46 pm
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The quality of an education a

The quality of an education a student gets is up to the student. I am now pursuing a degree from an online university and I am able to master the subject at hand aa well as if I were siting in a traditional classroom. I also have a friend who is teaching a class at ASU part time, and as mentioned in the article, the work load is the same as for a full time instructor. She has said she will probably not do it again. I have taken evening classes at ASU; some of which were taught by part time intructors. Some of the instructors were great, and some left a lot to be desired.

concercitizen
340
Points
concercitizen 02/02/09 - 12:46 pm
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The quality of an education a

The quality of an education a student gets is up to the student. I am now pursuing a degree from an online university and I am able to master the subject at hand aa well as if I were siting in a traditional classroom. I also have a friend who is teaching a class at ASU part time, and as mentioned in the article, the work load is the same as for a full time instructor. She has said she will probably not do it again. I have taken evening classes at ASU; some of which were taught by part time intructors. Some of the instructors were great, and some left a lot to be desired.

WarDawg
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WarDawg 02/02/09 - 12:51 pm
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This is likely to continue

This is likely to continue until such time as budgets recover. Higher ed in general though has been seeing declining state support as more states shift funds to K-12. South Carolina, Alabama and other have done that leaving colleges to raise tuition, which of course, tends to make parents quite angry. So it almost a no win situation. In some states, state support for higher ed has plummeted over the years, in essence making the schools almost private. As for the issue of part timers, some can be good and some not. Just the way it is. Many slide onto campus to teach, have an hour or so of office hours and leave. Fulltime faculty tend to be more accessible to students since that is there fulltime commitment.

jackrabbit5491
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jackrabbit5491 02/02/09 - 02:39 pm
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Unfortunately, UGA has

Unfortunately, UGA has decided to outsource student education to unaccountable temp workers in a misguided, cynical effort to save money! What benefits are obtained from Georgia tax dollars and tuition? In response to "concerned citizen's" statement about UGA President Michael Adams' travel reimbursement, I believe this money would be well spent, if it results in Dr Adams' getting a job in another state (or country).

junket83
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junket83 02/03/09 - 12:55 am
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Maybe the key is having the

Maybe the key is having the administrators start teaching more classes and spending less time on meaningless committees and travel.

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