Greg Bales

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

Adjunct Pay per 3-Credit Course at Arkansas Colleges and Universities, source:adjunctproject.com
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 Yearly Wages for Adjunct Instructors at Arkansas Colleges and Median County Income
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.

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Comments

February 21, 2012

Hm… I think I’ll dig into some NCES statistics and try to find out how many adjunct faculty Arkansas has. I’m also going to add the MLA’s recommended salary (adjusted for COL) to this chart, for comparison’s sake.

Any other suggestions for how to make this particular post richer would be much appreciated.

Consider this a test-run, Iowa—cuz I’m coming for you next.

February 22, 2012

Wonderful! Just sent this off to A is for Adjunct (from there to our FB wall & Twitter) exhorting others to follow your example.

Did you see the comment on the about comparing to average incomes and cost of living data?

PS let me know if you are an NFM member. I’ll add your blog to the NFM blogroll

Thanks, Vanessa! To answer your second question first, I’m not a NFM member because I’m no longer in academia. Consider me as an interested observer with enough friends who have been dragged through the ranks of non-tenure-track employment to want to keep track of the story.

I didn’t see another comment, but FYI I’m burrowing back into other data sets such as the contingent faculty index to see what, if anything, they might add to the picture. I search at irregular times, so it’s slow going; when (if) I uncover more, I’ll update this post.

Added this evening: The University of the Ozarks.

February 23, 2012

Added this evening, too: the red & green graph.

UARK, Fayetteville has 21 adjunct faculty and 20 faculty, although 2 new TT faculty are being hired at present. (There are over 100 graduate students.)

Also, at UARK, Fayetteville, no adjuncts are allowed to teach during the summer sessions, so 4/4 for two semesters is all that is available. The pay is $30,200; however, some of the adjuncts may be getting more—the difference in the pay is not transparent.

So the compensation on the chart is overly optimistic in regards to this particular school.

@darthvadersmom, thanks for elaborating on conditions at UA, and for the valuable corrections to the second graph. There are a lot of ways in which such projections cannot reflect actual working conditions. I think I’ll add a link to your comment in the notes to the graph but leave the 5/5 assumption up; if instructors in Arkansas are like instructors in Iowa (where I live now) and elsewhere, like as not many are cobbling together jobs from multiple schools to get to a 5/5 or more.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if adjunct contracts are not standard across university departments—maybe even within departments, too. (There’s way too much evidence of across-the-board pay disparities for adjuncts to be exempted.) For that reason, the adjunct project’s data will become significantly better with multiple entries for each school.

February 28, 2012

I was reminded today that I’ve posted on the rise of adjunct labor (and fall of TT faculty) before. However, the charts on that post are funky. Here’s a better version. See also here.

November 06, 2013

I have been offered the opportunity to teach two classes at UALR when I graduate and I am wondering what the Little Rock campus pays per class.I would be interested to know what the pay is at Pulaski Tech as well. Thank you for input

November 07, 2013

@amiliojo: I just did a quick check and didn’t find anything on the Adjunct Project’s website for UALR. When you were offered the classes, didn’t they give you a salary offer, too? In that case, you’ll know the pay already—be sure to add it to the Adjunct Project!

There are a few entries there for Pulaski Tech.

March 11, 2014

I’m adjunct at UAF. Our department pays all adjuncts the same, regardless of how long on the job. So last year’s hires earn the same as the 20-year adjunct. That’s a bit more than half of what a beginning assistant prof. makes. Yes, we get insurance and a retirement match. We are expected to do everything that full profs do except publish, though most of us have. We are expected at faculty meetings, we do our stints on committees and other extracurriculars. Because we all all full-time adjuncts, we do not have private sector jobs, though some of us do other kinds of pick-up work. At openua.uark.edu you can learn what anyone makes. You’ll need a name. It you want to get mad, go there and look up “bielema.” He’s a coach.

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