How could the Post-Gazette publish "Death of an Adjunct" by Daniel Kovalik? I always thought commentaries had to have some basis of truth to them. To blame the death of Margaret Mary Vojtko on Duquesne University is ludicrous. To insinuate that Margaret Mary was only bringing in her salary for being an adjunct was just not true. She was 83, which means she was also getting Social Security and was on Medicare. Her adjunct work at Duquesne supplemented her income. Mr. Kovalik left out these details.
Granted, adjunct professors do not make a lot of money. It is more like a side job than a full-time job. But, for someone like Margaret Mary, this type of income had to help supplement the Social Security she was receiving and help with her out-of-pocket medical costs. Duquesne showed no kind of discrimination as far as her age since she kept her job until she was 83. Adjuncts work based on the need of an institution. I am sure once she started sleeping in classrooms the university became alarmed and her position was eliminated. Any employer could not allow this kind of behavior.
Exactly what did Mr. Kovalik want Duquesne to do? Someone did the right thing by contacting Adult Protective Services. If anyone bears responsibility for her plight it would be her family. They should have made sure she was housed properly and perhaps taken over her finances. She probably qualified for some kind of senior citizen facility and wouldn't have had to live in a house that she could no longer handle.
To even equate the university president's salary with what an adjunct professor makes per class is ludicrous. You are talking apples and oranges, and there is no way to justify the comparison.
The saddest thing about this is that there are people out there who will think that Duquesne is just heartless, and that could not be further from the truth.
The writer is assistant director, Office of International Programs, Duquesne University.