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Part-time profs fight for more pay

COLUMBUS, Ohio -Lois Ann Sellers loves teaching communications skills to college students, but not her part-time status, which means cobbling together several classes, tutoring and substitute work to earn at most $20,000 a year.

“I love the institution, I love the students, I like the setting, but we would like to have a fair shake,”said Sellers, 53, a part-time professor at Columbus State Community College.

Universities are creating “intellectual sweatshops” by increasing their reliance on poorly paid part-time faculty, union officials and part-time professors said yesterday at rallies around the country. The events were planned in cities including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Madison, Wis., Ann Arbor, Mich., and New York City.

“As the economy heads south, as institutions invest more in technology, higher education institutions are finding the need to balance their books on the backs of part-timers,” said Jamie Horwitz of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents about 125,000 professors nationwide.

Universities counter that most part-time faculty are community professionals – such as lawyers, accountants or engineers – who are teaching a class or two in their area of expertise outside of their full-time jobs.

A federal survey released earlier this month found that 43 percent of college faculty are now part time, up from 33 percent in 1987. The 1999 study by the National Center for Education Statistics was based on 1998 figures, the most recent available.

In Ohio, 51 percent of faculty at two-year state community colleges are part time, according to the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees public colleges and universities in the state. Thirty-two percent of four-year public colleges use part-timers.

Under the current system, the use of part-time professors is being “grossly abused,” said Tom Mooney, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “I don’t know what to call it except intellectual sweatshops.”

Marian Lupo, a part-time English teacher at Columbus State, said teachers often labor under poor conditions compared with their full-time colleagues.

“I’ve met with students in the hallway, I’ve met with students everyplace except the bathroom,” Lupo said. “We have about 3 square feet of office space.”

Full-time pay for Columbus State faculty ranges from $35,872 for beginning instructors to $70,547 for full professors. Part-time faculty teach about 60 percent of Columbus State classes; many of them are experts in their areas, said college spokesman Pieter Wykoff.

Part-timers’ low pay and lack of health and retirement benefits also affect the students of part-time teachers, one full-time professor said.

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