Future unclear for part-time faculty
SF State President Leslie E. Wong assured students the University will help provide classes in the face of an upcoming $3 million campus-wide budget cut.
Every department, including academic, administrative and athletics, will submit an action plan to brace for the deficit, but it will not affect faculty employment, according to Wong.
“The last thing I want to do is reduce positions,” Wong said. “We are already underpowered, understaffed. I want to minimize the damage to curriculum. We already have impaction, we already have a situation where courses aren’t available on a predictable routine to facilitate access to a diploma, so there’s just a lot of different variables that unfortunately we’ve got to solve at one time.”
Financial deficit accumulated through the years has led SF State andS other California State Universities to rely on more part-time faculty than full-time tenure-track professors, according to California Faculty Association Chapter President and part-time lecturer Sheila Tully.
“Here at SF State, part-time temporary lecturers teach about between 50 and to 55 percent of classes on campus, which is actually low compared to other CSU campuses where it is up to 75 percent,” Tully said.
Part-time lecturers are hired to teach anywhere from two classes per semester, are temporary and are paid less money compared to full-time faculty on campus, according to Tully.
“I don’t think the quality of teaching of lecturers is any different,” Tully said. “In fact, I would argue that lecturers are very dedicated and you have to be for the low salary that we earn.”
Most part-time faculty do not know whether they will return to teach at SF State until three weeks before the new semester starts. Students and part-time faculty are left in a whirlwind of stress not knowing what classes are offered or who will teach them, Tully said.
“I’m scrambling in three weeks to pull together a syllabus, order books, create my lectures and it’s extremely stressful for me,” Tully said. “Since the height of the budget crisis, classes are rolled out in batches, so it’s not unusual for me to get a call or email in June saying ‘if we are able to offer such and such class, will you be willing to teach it?’”
Due to CFA Union efforts on campus, Tully said SF State temporary part-time lecturers like herself who teach two classes are guaranteed medical benefits.
Despite the hurdles of being a part-time lecturer, Tully said she believes students are the most affected by this issue.
“Last year I taught three classes, but had 180 students,” Tully said. “That’s more than full-time work. When I have 180 students, I can’t give (more) time and attention than when I have 60 students.”
SF State child and adolescent development major, Alexis Godinez, believes having part-time faculty makes communications between student and professor more difficult.
“I don’t think it’s helpful,” Godinez said. “Students need to contact their professors, but their availability makes it hard.”
Wong said staffing of faculty and professional advisers will become a priority once the deficit is paid off.
“I just think we’re underpowered right now,” Wong said