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Adjuncts increase faculty numbers
Nationally, schools use adjuncts to save money

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Adjunct instructors, professors that are not hired as full-time, make up more than half of Belmont’s faculty. Out of the university’s 520 faculty members, 268 are adjuncts and they are paid significantly less per course than a full-time faculty member.

“There are many reasons to hire adjunct professors, including availability of expertise or professional experience, areas of intense need where there is a shortage locally, regionally and nationally of doctorally-qualified faculty and areas of fluctuating need,” Dan McAlexander, Belmont provost said.

Although adjunct faculty members fulfill teaching needs within the university, they are paid significantly less per course than full-time faculty. The average pay of a Belmont faculty member is $64,300, or an average of about $8,000 for a three-credit course. Adjunct pay ranges from $1,850 to $2,300 per class, said Jennifer Ervin, systems coordinator.

ClassFinder on BIC shows the class Christianity and Entertainment, which is taught by an adjunct professor, has 29 students. With the cost for one tuition hour at $720, the class makes Belmont around $62,640. This means Belmont makes a gross of approximately $60,340 after retracting the highest potential adjunct pay.

When presented with these numbers, McAlexander said, “I’ll leave you to your calculations, but that kind of estimate is much more complex, and I really don’t have it in that form.”

While it is more complex, the trend nationwide, as colleges compete for tuition and donor dollars, is a growing popularity of adjuncts as a money-saving practice. According to the National Center for Edication Statistics, part-time faculty at U.S. colleges and universities has jumped from 22 to 43 percent in the last 30 years.

Adjuncts also do not receive benefits, such as health insurance and sick leave, as full-time faculty members do. An adjunct faculty member has to teach at least nine hours and have a semester contract instead of a one-year contract to receive insurance coverage, said Sally McKay, director of human resources.

Because adjunct pay is comparatively low, retention of adjuncts is difficult, said Kevin Robinson, associate professor of physical therapy and president of the faculty senate. “We’re always replacing an adjunct each year it seems,” he said. “Many faculty across campus would like to see pay increased. Administration would say it’s not that simple.”

Adjuncts are extremely important to the university. “If you look at the numbers of adjuncts, you wouldn’t be able to have a lot of your classes without them,” Robinson said.

Mark Volman, coordinator of the Entertainment Industries Program and professor of music business, became a full-time faculty member this past year after being an adjunct.

“Adjuncts are a wonderful experience because you get to give something back as someone working in the society,” Volman said. “It’s not a money-making situation. It’s probably a little better than working at Bongo Java.”

Volman applied for a posted full-time job while working as an adjunct at Belmont and was hired.

“It certainly has been a different type of change,” Volman said. “It has been a process that I’ve grown into in terms of the amount of work I’ve discovered.

“It’s like taking a Volkswagen in and trading it for a Ferrari.”

Adjunct professors work on a course-by-course basis, semester by semester, Ervin said. The university anticipates the positions adjuncts fill to be special, short-term needs or supporting to other positions.


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