Adjunct Pay at Arkansas Colleges and Universities
The Adjunct Project is what its creator Josh Boldt calls accidental activism. At its most basic, it’s an effort to collect data about the working conditions of adjunct teachers at colleges and universities nationwide in response to this essay by Michael Bérubé. It has been pretty successful; successful enough, in fact, that it’s now becoming possible to make charts from the data! For example, here are two graphs looking at adjunct salaries at colleges and universities in my home state of Arkansas. The first graph compares the reported per-course salaries to that recommended by the Modern Language Association (adjusted for cost of living). The second graph compares projected yearly salaries for adjuncts (based on a 5/5 course load) to the county’s median wages.1
Multiple entries for the same school have been averaged. Assumptions were also made about ambiguities in the original data set (e.g., “University of Arkansas” was taken to mean the Fayetteville campus). The light blue line is the MLA-recommended salary of $6,800 per course, adjusted for cost of living by city.
Projected wages are for an academic year teaching 5 courses per semester and are based on per-course wages reported by adjunct instructors on adjunctproject.com.2 Median county income is for a calendar year and is based on data obtained from the US Census Bureau.
Even considering adjustments for Arkansas’ cheaper-than-average cost of living (median salary in Conway: $46,123 per year; teaching a 5/5 at UCA: $26,000 per year), I find these numbers to be wanting.
1 I’ll update both chart as more information becomes available.
2 Take yearly wage projections here with a grain of salt. Besides the fact this wage projection may be significantly skewed by the small data set, many colleges and universities severely curtail the number of courses an instructor can teach in an academic year, as darthvadersmom notes in the comments is true at the University of Arkansas. An adjunct instructor who can, in any given semester, get 5 courses to teach at the same school, is a, um, lucky lady, I guess.