By Audrey Williams June and Jonah Newman
Five years ago, Margaret Hanzimanolis was fed up with working as an adjunct professor in Vermont, teaching six courses for about $24,000 a year, without health insurance. So she moved across the country to Northern California, where at least 20 colleges were within a 90-minute drive, to begin her life as an adjunct anew.
Within days of her arrival, Ms. Hanzimanolis was hired to teach basic writing courses at De Anza College. Then she landed adjunct positions at Cañada College, City College of San Francisco, and Evergreen Valley College. She taught 13 classes year-round and earned $88,000 a year, she says. More important, after 18 months of teaching she was eligible for health benefits. The California wages are higher in part because the cost of living is greater there than in Vermont, but her new income still goes much further now.
"Here I was toiling away in Vermont for almost nothing for 17 years," she says. "When I moved here, I thought, 'This is another world.' How come I didn't know this?"
It's not uncommon for adjuncts to make decisions on where to work just as Ms. Hanzimanolis did: with little concrete information about key factors such as pay, benefits, and what the climate on the job is like for those who work off the tenure track. For adjuncts, reliable information about potential workplaces has always been hard to come by. Many colleges don't collect the data, and higher-education groups, such as the American Association of University Professors, haven't been able to find a way to systematically track the pay that adjuncts earn.
Over the past year, however, adjuncts across the nation have been turning to the Adjunct Project, a crowdsourcing effort that started last February when Joshua A. Boldt, a writing instructor in Georgia, put online a publicly editable spreadsheet. Nearly 2,000 entries have already been made on adjuncts' pay and working conditions, and a clearer national picture is emerging.
Now, to increase participation and collect ever-more-comprehensive information, Mr. Boldt and The Chronicle
are expanding the project.
The new Web site, http://adjunct.chronicle.com
, started this month, allows data to be sorted and compared by department, college, and region of the country. It displays information that adjuncts have reported about working conditions, such as whether they participate in shared governance, are part of a union, and receive health insurance and retirement benefits.
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