Adjunct faculty base pay, benefits to increase in new union agreement, officials say

Media Credit: Lily Speredelozzi | Photographer

Union leaders said union members will receive details on the new agreement this week.

Updated: Nov. 11, 2022 at 12:52 p.m.

Part-time faculty could receive their first contractual raise in four years and an increased base salary after GW’s adjunct faculty union members voted on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement Friday pending the approval from administrators and SEIU 500 officials.

Union members said the new collective bargaining agreement, a document that outlines pay and benefits for adjunct faculty at GW, could increase adjunct faculty salaries from a $4,467 base salary to a $5,000 base salary and give a 10-percent raise to all regular, or benefits-eligible, part-time faculty starting in the spring of 2023. Union leaders said they negotiated with officials for about 18 months to raise the pay and benefits for adjunct faculty, which still falls thousands of dollars short of adjunct pay offered at other D.C. universities.

Union officials said the agreement also doubled the $700 professional development fund that adjunct professors originally had access to for work-related expenses like a booking hotel room for a conference, and bans full-time faculty, who are paid a full-time salary, from taking a portion of part-time professors’ pay when co-teaching with them. Union officials said union members will receive details on the agreement this week.

Kip Lornell, the head of the adjunct faculty union and an adjunct professor of music, history and culture, said the 10 percent increase for regular part-time faculty is “notable,” but the pay falls short of accounting for the services like research and mentoring that part-time faculty provide for students in addition to teaching courses.

Officials reported that on average, full-time professors at GW earn a $186,000 salary, while associate and assistant professors earned about $118,000 and $101,000, respectively, in 2021. But regular part-time faculty earn an annual $24,683 salary, according to the University’s collective bargaining agreement between 2019-21.

“For me personally, that’s been one of the big frustrations as you point out factual information, and they just ignore it, or they don’t think it’s important,” Lornell said.

Lornell said some adjunct faculty in the music department do not earn more than the minimum salary, regardless of the length of their tenure at the University.

Prior to the new CBA, officials paid adjunct faculty with top degrees at least $4,467 to teach a three- to four-credit class – about 10 percent more than the $3,915 course minimum they were paid in 2011 – but the increase lags behind the roughly 19 percent jump for full professors and 17 percent jump for assistant professors in the same period.

“It’s the University’s prerogative to pay above what, for whatever reasons they want,” Lornell said.

Lisa Page, the director of the creative writing program, said she’s had to replace “dynamite” adjunct professors who left GW for a higher-paying institution in the past two years. She said most adjunct faculty in the creative writing program are professional poets and novelists who actively pitch stories and write under a deadline while teaching courses as part-time professors.

Adjunct professors at Georgetown University receive at least $7,000 for teaching courses that are at least three or more credits, according to Georgetown’s Office of the Provost website.

“I can’t pay our adjunct faculty what they deserve,” Page said.

She said she has reached out to CCAS leadership to ask for higher pay for adjunct faculty, but adjunct professors are often “left out” of discussions on equitable pay because they do not work full time at universities.

“Adjunct faculty all over the country are in a class by themselves,” Page said. “The system needs a complete rehaul.”

Julian Waller, an adjunct professor of political science, said some adjunct professors are not relying on their salary from teaching at GW as their primary source of income. He said adjunct faculty working for the Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Media and Public Affairs work professionally as politicians or journalists and have the “luxury” of teaching courses to give back to their field instead of as a source of income.

He added that he would like to see an increase in the base pay for adjunct faculty because the base pay of $4,467 from the prior CBA for adjuncts teaching a three- to four-credit course does not accommodate the high cost of living in D.C.

“For the average adult in D.C., that money is inconsequential,” Waller said.

This post has been updated to correct the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that regular part-time faculty were tenure-eligible faculty. Regular part-time faculty are benefits-eligible faculty. We regret this error. This post has also been updated to clarify the average pay of associate and assistant professors in 2021.

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