PASSHE Board of Governors
Remarks of Kenneth M. Mash, Ph.D.
February 27, 2015
Chairman Pichini, Governors, Chancellor Brogan,
Good afternoon. This week is National Adjunct Action Week, and APSCUF stands in solidarity with our colleagues across the nation both adjunct and tenure and tenure track, in recognition of the plight of these faculty, who across this country are too often exploited, that is, they are grossly underpaid, denied health benefits, and forced to travel hundreds of miles to patch together enough money to make a living.
Their work is underappreciated, and they are way too often treated as if they are expendable, even as they devote their time and energies to instructing students, preparing them for their careers and giving them the ability to think critically that will serve them in every capacity of their lives.
The plight of the adjuncts has caught the attention of the US Congress, which held hearings on their situation. And across the country, adjuncts are unionizing in order to improve their plight, and to press for full-time tenure track positions that help create a proper learning environment for both students and faculty. As we repeatedly say, the conditions under which faculty work are the conditions under which students learn.
While we stand in solidarity with our colleagues, you have probably noticed that we have been relatively quiet on our campuses. There was no talk at all of our faculty participating in the “National Adjunct Walkout Day.”
Why? I think in large part it is because this System has not been as exploitative as many universities across the country. The pay at our universities is better than at most, and the System Universities provide benefits for full-time temporary faculty.
Consequently, I stand here today to say thank you for working with us to treat our temporary faculty members with a modicum of dignity. Thank you for working with us to maximize the opportunities for full-time employment with benefits. Thank you for working with us to provide a path, even if it is not perfect, for long-term adjuncts to join the tenure ranks.
However, there is still much room for the universities to improve their treatment of our temporary faculty. In my position, I have heard my share of horror stories of course loads being reduced so that a university does not have to pay benefits or does not have to consider a permanent position. Numerous faculty have been buried at the bottom of the pay scale despite their qualifications or their length of service.
I have witnessed adjunct faculty be displaced, even as they have singlehandedly built up their programs. The cost of benefits for part-time faculty continues to be exorbitant. And our adjuncts are too often marginalized, too easily displaced, and too often their work is underappreciated.
We must continue to work together so that the adjunct faculty we represent are treated with the dignity and respect that they rightfully deserve, and I look forward to that endeavor. Adjunct faculty working conditions are, indeed, student learning conditions.
I thank you for your time.