Thursday, April 25, 2013

As American as AAUPple pie

by Caprice Lawless 

Last week, we sent our press release to the college PR office, announcing that adjunct faculty had formed a multi-campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). 

While still waiting for official publication of our news, we heard from one of our community supporters, a finance director from one of Colorado’s largest corporations. At our request, she has been studying the recently published auditor’s report from our college’s governing board. She is finding the report illuminating, especially one pie chart depicting expenditures. She refined the pie chart, distilling from the data supplied the value of adjuncts as reflected in the expenditures.

So this week, to celebrate both her fact-finding and our chapter formation, we shared with adjuncts several super-sized apple pies (a gift from another community supporter) and copies of the finance director’s pie chart. We visited several different adjunct offices on campus with pies, plates, press releases and membership forms in hand. It’s always so much fun to watch their faces when colleagues realize how, especially to those outside the walls of our campus, they are seen as valuable professionals in league with peers across the country. 

Like chummy policy wonks then, adjuncts stood around chewing data and nibbling pie. The data is disturbing; it shows only 11% of the $548 million spent last year went to the adjunct faculty who now teach two-thirds of all courses offered. Even more disturbing is how the pie chart shows that the 4,012 adjunct faculty comprise nearly half of all the employees within our college system. Those were cold facts shared on a cold day. Yet the pie was delicious and the conversations warm. Many adjuncts left with copies of the chapter press release and AAUP membership forms.