The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Part-time professors struggle with salaries

For Karen Savage, a geology studies professor teaching only at CSUN as a part-time professor, one job is not enough to earn a decent salary. She has been teaching at Moorpark College and CSUN in the same semesters for several years now, in order to earn the equivalent of a full-time salary.

“I can’t just work in one place and being able to support my family,” Savage said.

Savage, and other part-time and full-time professors at CSUN, face challenges with their salaries. Some are forced to look for alternative jobs, teaching at other institutions or working at consulting firms off-campus. Some have even given up on teaching altogether for better paying jobs.

At one time Savage was working at Ventura College, Moorpark College and CSUN at the same time to earn enough money to meet her financial needs.

“It was awful,” she said of her experiences constantly commuting from place to place and teaching several classes. “I needed to make enough money to support my family.”

Part-time professors face more difficulties than full-time professors, Savage said. For instance, full-time professors have priority in choosing classes.

“We have to take what’s left over,” Savage said. “We don’t normally get choices in what we teach.” Savage, who has worked for a geologist in the past, said she has considered trying out better-paying jobs within her field.

“I don’t think I get as much respect as full-time (professors) do,” Savage said. “I have never been invited to a faculty meeting and I’ve been here almost 10 years.”

Part-time professors are exploited, said Gina Masequesmay, Asian-American studies professor. “If we think we have it bad, they have it worse,” she said.

Although Masequesmay is a full-time professor and recently was promoted to an associate professor with a 7.5 percent salary increase, she continues to face financial problems.

“I thought this promotion would help me, but compared with other people, it is still not enough,” she said. “It makes you wonder if you want to stay or not. It makes you consider other alternatives.”

Masequesmay, who has been teaching at CSUN for 6 years, said new faculty are getting paid more than she is.

The high cost of living in southern California also makes it hard for some professors to get by on their salaries.

“If I lived somewhere else, this salary would afford me to live a middle class (lifestyle),” she said. “We can’t afford to buy a condominium (here). With the same salary in Arizona, I can buy a house.”

Salary is not the only problem at CSUN. There are other disadvantages professors confront, such as heavy teaching loads, lots of committee service work and heavy demands, Masequesmay said.

“We are losing good people, because they see that elsewhere they’ve been valued,” Masequesmay said.

Amir Hussain taught religious studies at CSUN from 1997 to 2005, but left after requesting a number of salary increases, which were all denied.

“I was promoted early from assistant to associate professor, yet I was making less than the average assistant professor at CSUN,” Hussain said. “The low salary was incredibly frustrating.”

“The salary for the average assistant professor at CSUN was $55,700, and the salary for the average associate professor was $66,000,” Hussain said. “When I left CSUN as an associate professor, I was making about $54,000.”

Hussain said after not receiving any raises during the years he spent teaching at CSUN, he felt it was time to leave.

Hussain is currently teaching at Loyola Marymount University, where he said his work is appreciated and the salary is substantial.

Faculty deal with serious economic deprivation, causing them to find other alternatives, such as leaving the university for other colleges, or to start consulting firms, said James Ballard, CSUN’s California Faculty Association chapter president.

Ballard, who has five years of teaching experience, started off with $57,000 in salary and moved to $61,000 in the four years he has been teaching at CSUN.

“I have been here four years and got one raise. It’s not fair,” Ballard said.

A recent survey released by the National Faculty Salary Survey states that the average salary in the 2005-06 academic year for new assistant professors in all fields working for public institutions was $54,955, $66,734 for associate professors and $89,896 for professors.

The study also found that there was a 3.1 percent increase in salary for public university faculty members and 3.7 percent at private institutions. Salary data were collected from 508 private institutions and 336 public institutions for the study.

“The average (salary) for new professors is $58,453 and lectures start at $54,000 or less,” said Paul Browning, spokesperson for the California State University system.

“On average, CSU professors get paid 10 percent more than other faculty at a four year college that offers masters degrees,” Browning said. In general “professors get a raise once a year.” He said there is no real data on how much money new part-time professors start earning.

The salaries in the CSU have been a serious problem for more than 10 years, but it got worse in the last four to five years, said John Travis, CFA president. The CFA has been negotiating a contract for the 23 CSU campuses with the CSU administration and trustees, led by CSU Chancellor Charles Reed. If a contract were agreed upon, it would protect not only professors, but also other faculty, such as librarians and counselors. Mainly, it will increase their salary, Travis said.

From 2001 to 2003, the CSU system lost more than $500 million of state support, said Travis. It created budget cuts and the CSU was not hiring a lot of faculty.

According to statistics from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, in the fall 2005 semester, CSUN had 2,021 faculty members on staff teaching the 25,139 students that were enrolled. Most of the faculty, 58.4 percent, were part-time professors, and 41.6 percent were full-time professors.

Professors are enjoying teaching less and less, especially tenure track professors, who are expected to do continuous research and be actively involved in the committees for their department, said David Diaz, professor of urban studies and planning.

A professor does receive grants by the university to do research and publish, but they are sometimes not adequate for the entire job.

Jennifer Garrison, geology professor, has been working at CSUN for a short time, but it has been long enough to realize the serious challenges part-time professors deal with.

She holds a Ph.D. in geology and works as a part-time professor at CSUN and CSU Long Beach to earn a higher income.

Working as a part-time professor can be frustrating at times, especially if the income is unstable, Garrison said. It changes every semester and varies on how many units she teaches. Some semesters she might be earning more than others.

Garrison said that part-time professors do not have much of a voice. They are not included in faculty meetings and do not make any decisions in the department.

Although she previously worked at the University of Iowa doing research projects, she took the part-time position because she wanted to come back to Los Angeles and get teaching experience.

“It’s depressing at times.Nowadays you have to work at a few different places to get a full-time potential,” said Andrea Rashtian, psychology professor, who is currently working three different jobs.

Rashtian is a part-time professor, but this semester she is teaching four classes at CSUN, one class at Los Angeles Community College and recently started doing private counseling.

Scott Plunkett, a family studies professor, has been teaching at CSUN as a part-time professor for 11 years, but started working as a therapist 21 years ago.

Plunkett only teaches during the fall and spring semesters, which he doe
s for the love of teaching, not for the income he earns, he said. When working as a therapist with teenagers and married couples, he earns a higher income than he does as a professor.

Teaching is a fantastic profession and students are hungry to learn, he said.

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