April 6th, 2015
The professor at the head of your college classroom may be on food stamps.
In search of cuts to their bottom line, American colleges and universities are using part time instructors to teach classes that a generation ago would have been the responsibility of tenured professors.
Paid as little as a couple of thousand dollars for each semester-long course, hundreds of thousands of people with doctorates or multiple master's degrees are earning near-poverty wages working as adjunct professors. And as a result, one in four families of part-time college faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program, like food stamps, Medicaid or the Earned Income Tax Credit, according to calculations of Census data by researchers at University of California, Berkeley's Labor Center.
"We're seeing a second class status of professors emerging," says Carol Zabin, Director of Research at the Berkeley Center. "More broadly, professional occupations have increased contingency and low pay."