Duquesne must consider if it treats adjuncts ethically

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I agree with Duquesne University School of Law dean Ken Gormley that "the role of part-time faculty members on American campuses today and how they are compensated is a serious and important topic" ("Duquesne Values All of Its Employees," Sept. 24 Perspectives). However, that is where our agreement ends.

Mr. Gormley's recent op-ed, by focusing on adjuncts with primarily nonacademic careers, obscures the issue and insinuates that the treatment of adjunct faculty is ethical and broadly accepted. A quick glance at a magazine like the Chronicle of Higher Education, which has several relevant articles (one about Margaret Mary Vojtko) on its online front page at the moment, would show that this is far from the case. In fact, Mr. Gormley "is the outlier" when he suggests that compensation for adjuncts is generally fair.

I have no insider knowledge, and it might even be that Duquesne treats its adjuncts as well as other universities. That is not the same as treating them ethically, which troubles me as a Catholic. The last three popes have warned against being "idolater[s] of this god called money" and advocated for workers. If Starbucks can offer health insurance to part-time employees, a Catholic university with moral integrity must surely do even better.

As a student pursuing an academic career, the increasing reliance on poorly treated adjuncts worries me. There is "brisk competition for" these jobs, as Mr. Gormley says, but the systemic problems causing that competition are not something to be proud of.

PHILIP McGRATH
Fox Chapel


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