Part-time pay, full-time problem

To avoid paying health care costs for part-time faculty, YSU is cracking down on part-timers who work more than their classification implies.

Times are tough. Money’s tight. We understand all that.

It’s the formula used to value part-time faculty’s contribution that we are arguing against. The administration multiplies the number of credit hours by 63 to determine the clock hours.

Teresa Riley, associate provost, said the administration calculates that part-time faculty members work 63 percent of the hours per semester hour as their full-time counterparts.

If a part-time instructor teaches 24 credit hours in an academic year, the administration considers that equal to 1,512 hours on the clock, which would come in just under 30 hours a week for a calendar year.

So, while part-time faculty members are allowed to teach the same course load as full-time professors, they aren’t responsible for research or advising, and that’s how they get 63 percent.

But part-time faculty don’t get 63 percent of the pay or benefits as full-time faculty.

The formula seems concocted to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provision that YSU must pay for health care for all employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week.

Two of the three numbers in the formula might as well be set in stone: 1,512 work hours and 24 credit hours.

If an instructor worked more than 1,512 hours a year, he or she would be dangerously close to being considered a full-time employee in the terms set by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

If the administration set the maximum course load above 24, they’d hear it from the part-timers who would gripe about teaching more classes than the full-time faculty; below and the administration might get in a bind if they need someone to teach an extra class.

That leaves 63. It seems that number was engineered simply to fit between 1,512 and 24, to max out the workload of part-time faculty while avoiding their health care costs.

We want to reiterate that we understand money doesn’t grow on trees, and the Ohio Department of Education has indicated that state funding will continue to decrease.

But the part-time faculty didn’t create the university’s dire financial situation. And neither did the students who rely on them to teach a majority of some entry-level courses.

The president and the members of her Cabinet, who earn a third of all 573 part-time faculty, chose to spend the money that doubled the university’s debt from 2009 to 2011.

Part-time faculty perform a valuable service, and the ones who really care make a difference.

There’s room in a nine-figure budget to promote or at least incentivize the best of them.

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