Recently, Dean Wayne Vaught of the College of Arts and Sciences was interviewed by the school’s newspaper, in which it was stated that in order to save on costs, full-time faculty would be replaced as they retired with adjuncts. The Dean claimed he was misquoted, and that adjuncts were a short-term fix for a temporary problem. He added, in a meeting with students on April 24th, that adjuncts provided specialized knowledge and bring a lot to the university.
Adjuncts are instructors who are part-time workers. Salaries are typically between $2000 and $3000 per class, they receive no office space, teach anywhere from four to six classes a semester at multiple universities, have very little time to meet with students, and at the end of the day rely on food stamps and other forms of public assistance to make ends meet. It is hard to picture this move as anything other than sacrificing education in the name of reducing costs.
At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, administrative salaries have been on the rise while faculty and GTA salaries remain stagnant. The provost has said that this is to benchmark salaries to the market so that these people do not leave. But what about the professors who make well below market-value, yet continue to show up to teach their students? Are they unimportant to the administration?
In the meantime, class sizes continue to grow. UMKC is pushing for a 14-1 student-faculty ratio, but anyone who has taken classes in Philosophy, Ethics, Psychology, and more can attest to the fact that this ratio is a bold-faced lie. MA classes in Economics, for example, have over 50 students. Is this what UMKC means when they advertise small classes?
The purpose of higher learning in America and the rest of the world is to foster young minds and give them guidance as they make their way through life; it is designed to give those who may have had trouble in their youth a second chance; it is focused on giving all who enter its doors an education – on teaching them the tools and skills they will need for success. It requires, most importantly, those who wish to learn, a nurturing faculty who care about teaching, and the resources so that knowledge may be passed from teacher to student.
The threat to higher learning is an administration that does not recognize these goals – an administration who sees students not as people wishing to learn, but as walking dollar signs. It is because of them that faculty remain underpaid, that students are forced into classes with hundreds of other people, and that cuts are continually made to college and university budgets. Business values are the bane of higher education; they create perverse incentives in which administrators are paid not based on the quality of education they help provide, but on the quantity of dollars they bring in. When business values dominate higher learning, it is the students who ultimately suffer.
If you are in favor of small classes, professors who have the ability and resources to best teach, and better education in general, you are not alone! Together, we CAN, and we WILL be heard! We are UMKC Students For Education!