SUNY New Paltz United University Professions (UUP) Chapter President Peter Brown appeared on the PBS News Hour feature on Feb. 6 titled “Adjuncts in Higher Education.”
Brown said he was contacted by the producer of the PBS News Hour about appearing in the piece and agreed to participate immediately. PBS came to Brown’s New York City apartment on Jan. 3 and conducted an hour long interview.
“I’ve been an advocate for contingent faculty equity for about 10 years,” Brown said. “I’m known in that capacity.”
According to the piece adjunct professors, in the United States are paid an average of $2,000 to $3,000 per class, while receiving few benefits and make up half of a school’s faculty.
Brown said adjunct professors are typically the lowest paid employees on a college campus, making less money than custodial staff. The average adjunct professor at New Paltz makes $12,000 per year.
“On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars as provosts, as presidents, as chancellors,” Brown said. “And between 1970 and 2008, the adjunct pay has gone down 49 percent. The salary of college presidents has gone up 35 percent.”
SUNY New Paltz Provost Phillip Mauceri said he is in contact with Brown to discuss issues regarding adjuncts.
“As provost I meet with the UUP Chapter President every month to discuss issues and concerns affecting adjuncts at our part-time labor management meetings,” Mauceri said. “We try to work together to address issues of importance for adjuncts, such as office space.”
Mauceri said colleges have not been able to hire as many full-time employees as they would have liked because of the decline in support from the state, so instead they’ve had to hire more part-time employees. He said the goal of the school should be to replace as many part-time adjuncts as they can with full-time employees. In the past decade, the college has reduced the number of part-time faculty teaching 50 percent of the courses offered to teaching 26 percent of courses now.
“I think it is important for students to be taught primarily by full-time faculty that are selected through a competitive national search and are on campus full-time, offering more access to students for things like office hours than part-time faculty,” Mauceri said.
Brown said he received positive feedback on the piece, which was viewed by people from all over the country. He said this piece is one of a number of national pieces that are being done about the rights of adjunct professors. He said he hopes the piece helps educate the general public about how adjunct professors cannot be renewed or fired without any due process.
In addition to being the UUP chapter president at New Paltz, Brown is involved in reaching out to other organizations in the Mid-Hudson Valley. He is also involved on a state and national level through national mobilization for equity, which is a national effort that has started to develop in support of better working conditions for contingent faculty.