University reduces number of classes taught by adjuncts, streamlines fall class offerings
Given the major financial losses of the university this semester, tough decisions regarding the fall semester face the administration and department chairs. The professors that lack security may be suffering the most from the uncertainty of the upcoming semester.
Adjunct professors are in a particularly precarious situation.
Adjunct professors instruct on a per-class basis, depending on departmental needs, unlike affiliated faculty of the university.
Michael Frassetto, an adjunct professor of history, planned to teach three classes in the fall semester. However, now, Frassetto only has one class lined up to teach.
The reduction of Frassetto’s classes came in conjunction with the administration asking each department to prepare for an austerity budget in the fall.
John Ernest, chair of the English department, said that the department is currently in the process of strategizing for classes in the fall in terms of class offerings and professors teaching. He sent out an email to the adjunct faculty in the English department preparing them for the likely impact this will have on them.
“These are important people, these are important members of our teaching community, and we’re trying to give them as much notice as we can,” Ernest said.
Ernest claimed that the potential cutback of adjunct teaching stems from two factors: the budget taking a hit and the number of students coming to the campus in the fall.
“Hopefully everybody in the UD community is going to be fine and is going to be able to return and continue with their education even under these conditions,” Ernest said. “But we do know that the coronavirus has affected a lot of people, and we don’t know what this might mean in terms of our students. We don’t know what it might mean in terms of first-year students coming in.”
Ernest claims that his department will continue to evaluate student numbers over the summer to determine the number of classes they should offer. For now, the English department is streamlining classes to be as efficient as possible in terms of the budget. One streamlining method for Ernest is offering one class that can fulfill a requirement, instead of the two that they had previously planned to offer. Additionally, the departments are strategizing to fill classes to their maximum to save money, a goal that has typically not been the case in previous semesters, according to Ernest.
“Students should be assured that it is the university’s top priority that we are offering the classes that they need and it’s our top priority to offer them in full UD fashion, and that we’re going to give them the type of education that they came here to receive,” Ernest said. “But because of all these conditions, they might find that some of the programs have been streamlined.”
However, Frassetto said his history classes typically fill up, yet he is only teaching one in the fall. Some classes will not be taught, he said, if adjuncts are not teaching.
“The question is: What’s the main role of the university? It’s an educational institution,” Frassetto said. “So if I’m not teaching and likely nobody else is going to teach these classes, then the mission of the university suffers.”
Frassetto will likely be taking a near 60% pay cut in the fall, he said. Adjunct faculty also do not receive benefits from the university and have always lacked the same job security as university faculty, according to Frassetto. The effect of the coronavirus on adjuncts demonstrates this lack in security.
“This is my job … If I don’t work, I don’t get paid,” Frassetto said. “So, if I don’t get paid, what does that mean for my overall quality of life? It’s certainly going to have an impact on decisions that my wife and I make in terms of finances.”