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Community Colleges Hiring More Part-Time Instructors

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
June 8, 2009

As community colleges attempt to cope with increased enrollment and significant budget cuts, some are opting to hire more part-time instructors.

The Philadelphia Inquirer [from an article originally located at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20090607_Community_colleges_caught_between_costs_and_enrollments.html] reports that New Jersey's Burlington County College plans to hire up to 200 new adjunct faculty members, increasing its part-time teaching staff to about 575, at the same time that the college faces a drastic cut of nearly 42 percent from the county and state. The school is responding to significantly increased enrollment and is searching for teachers in all subjects, including math, biology, chemistry and business, said Kathleen Carter, vice president for academic affairs. She noted that it is far more cost effective to add adjuncts than to increase full-time employees, which typically costs about $100,000 in salary and benefits.

"It tends to be a less expensive hire and a more flexible hire," agreed John Ikenberry, president and cofounder of HigherEdJobs.com, who was quoted in the Inquirer. "Colleges can staff up or staff down, depending on changes in enrollment."

Similarly, Gloucester County College added 50 adjuncts since last summer. The school saw a 17 percent rise in enrollment for its first summer session, and a 28 percent jump is predicted for the second semester. Meanwhile, fall enrollment is currently 14 percent ahead.

Nevertheless, union officials cautioned that too much adjunct faculty could potentially negatively affect the quality of teaching, and that full-time instructors tend to be more qualified and committed to the school.

The warning echoed the concerns of officials at California community colleges who responded to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to use more part-time instructors in order to cope with the state's massive education budget cuts. Schwarzenegger has called for about $800 million in budget cuts to community colleges as the state attempts to deal with a $24.3 billion deficit.

"Nothing the governor says these days surprises us," said Fred Glass, communications director of the California Federation of Teachers, who was quoted in The Sacramento Bee. "He seems to be using this (fiscal crisis) as an opportunity to slash-and-burn education." Glass said that the proposal would ultimately hurt community colleges and give students "the short end of the stick."

But educators who cannot make ends meet are taking advantage of the availability of part-time jobs in order to supplement their incomes. The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California reports that many are accepting positions at community colleges, such as Connie Stip, a math teacher at La Sierra High School in Riverside, who also took a job at Riverside Community College.

"Part of it is my son is going to college next year," she explained, "and I can always use the money."

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