Science Dept. Evaluates Salary Discrepency

By Maegan Clearwood
News Editor

Adjunct professors are an integral part of Washington College academics; it was not until recently, however, that the discrepancies between natural science adjuncts and full time professors came to light.

According to Biology Professor Martin Connaughton, adjunct natural science professors get paid half of what full-time professors receive. This discrepancy occurs because many adjunct professors teach only labs, which count as half-credit courses in terms of payroll. Although these professors dedicate a significant amount of time to their work, there is a significant salary difference.

Connaughton addressed this issue at a faculty meeting in the hopes of gaining support from other departments.

“I think a lot of faculty don’t know what goes on in other departments,” he said. “I asked them to consider leveling the playing field.”

Professors in other departments teach three four-credit courses a semester; science professors, however, usually teach two four-credit lectures and two half-credit labs. Adjunct professors who only teach labs are at a disadvantage.

According to Provost and Dean Christopher Ames, professors are paid $3,000 a week for a four-credit course, and $1,500 for two-credit courses.

“Could we raise the salary for this little group? Treat the science labs as $3,000? I think it’s a pretty good idea. We need to see if we can work it out in the budget,” he said.

According to Ames, the budget committee intends to review the situation.

Connaughton understands that finding a means to fund this pay increase may prove challenging.

“The college is like a person who lives from pay-check to pay-check,” Connaughton said. “We have an endowment, but it was hit pretty hard. Our operating budget is largely equal to the number of students and what we charge.”

Although budget issues may be challenging, Connaughton hopes for the best.

“We’ve been grousing for awhile. It’s not easy to get people to teach special courses in a small town. It may be hard to keep them,” he said.

Ames recognizes what impact a change in salary may make in hiring adjunct faculty.

“In some cases, especially in science, adjuncts are grad or post-doctorate students nearby who are looking for teaching experience. They have a pretty big commute. Raising the pay would increase our ability to attract.”

Reevaluating how labs count in terms of salaries and credit hours may be difficult.

“Labs are an exception to the general rule in that they count for the professor the same as for the student. With science labs, it’s not practical to give students four credits for each lab,” he said.

Ames said that this discrepancy may have originated from old-fashioned concepts about labs being less work than lectures.

“The science professors feel that’s not the case,” Ames said. “What you do in preparing the lab is much more active. The amount of writing in lab reports makes a significant amount of grading. Their argument is that what used to be less work no longer is.”

Although changes still need to be made, Connaughton was pleased with the reaction he received from other departments.

“There’s no antagonism in the air,” he said. “They’re sympathetic about this.”

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