Adjunct professors should be paid in accordance with their value

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Regarding law school dean Ken Gormley's op-ed piece "Duquesne Values Its Employees: Our University Respects and Fairly Compensates Adjunct Faculty" (Sept. 24):

The most valuable courses I had in law school were taught by adjunct faculty who taught based on real-world professional and practical experience. Not every career academic faculty member could match that, and some were unable to apply the law they taught beyond the four corners of the casebook.

During my last semester, I paid $11,754 for nine credit hours, $1,306 per credit hour, or $3,918 for one three-credit course. Two of the three-credit courses I took were taught by adjuncts, both of whom where highly accomplished attorneys and excellent, dedicated teachers.

As Mr. Gormley indicated, these adjuncts were paid about $3,500 per semester -- less than I alone paid in tuition for the courses they taught. One of the courses had approximately 35 enrollees -- 35 times $3,918 equals $137,130 in tuition for the law school. The other course had about 18 students enrolled -- some $70,524 in tuition. The bare numbers speak for themselves.

Students buy their own textbooks. The school provides classroom space. Aside from $3,500 and perhaps access to the law school library and online resources, adjuncts received no other benefits to my knowledge.

Fortunately, the adjuncts I was privileged to learn from taught because they enjoyed teaching, were driven to give back to the educational system or benefited intellectually and professionally from the experience, not because they needed the money. Law schools are lucky to have so many talented individuals willing to, in effect, donate their time.

Unfortunately, as the article pointed out, a plethora of highly qualified teachers cannot get full-time faculty positions and need the money. These professionals deserve better.




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