Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's so funny about peace, love, and maximin?

I've seen data scattered in various places about faculty salaries, but I'm wondering if anyone knows where to get the most reliable data about the salaries offered to philosophy lecturers or instructors. (According to this survey, the median philosophy instructor salary was $39K for the 2007-2008 school year. Is that high? I guess I'd feel slightly better if it was. The egalitarian in me cries out for leveling down.) The offer on the table is $33K to teach 4-4 with just over 180 students each semester to look after. For reasons that are beyond me, the university will not help cover the cost of conference travel and has not provided us with computers. When my laptop dies in the near future, I'll be out of pocket on that. There's no fun little book fund for amazon shopping sprees. Hell, we even have to pay to use the gym now. Factor that in as well. The little bit that I've seen suggests this is a pretty poor compensation package and as a friend pointed out, the $700 raise they are offering isn't really a raise if you take account of inflation. It's just a pay cut that is slightly less bad than it could have been. I'd like to appeal to a dean or the devil or whoever it is one talks to and see about negotiating for a proper raise, but I need numbers. And help would be greatly appreciated.


Mike Almeida said...


It is true in the UT system (and public institutions generally, I think) that this is public information. You can go to the library and find out what every lecturer in the UT system is making. I'm not sure if that's true at SMU, but it is worth checking out. It would be good to know where your salary stands relative to the local lecturers. Do you know whether there a move to lecturer II or III or senior lecturer possible? Do you have those ranks? You're average is about 4000/course, and that's not great. My guess (but it's only a guess) is that that's below average for philosophy lecturers. Have you spoken with the chair? He might well be in a position to negotiate (I mean, instead of going directly to the Dean or Provost).

Clayton said...

Hey Mike,

I had tried to jump into the fray below, but my comment wasn't approved. (Don't they know who runs this place?)

I've spoken with the chair and there's nothing he can really do from what I can tell to get the lecturers raises without taking money away from non-contingent faculty. Plus, he's out of town. I had planned on passing a letter around to a few people and putting in a pitch to maybe the dean about trying to make it a longer term goal to bring contingent faculty compensation in line with the industry's standards. There's no real hope to negotiate anything for next year. I have about 11 days to sign a contract, so unless someone comes along and makes some sort of offer my only bargaining chip is appeal to sympathy.

On a side note, a little while back I was asked if I could pick up an extra course and told that the compensation would be precisely $4000. I asked for more saying that this was less than I was receiving per course. The immediate response, "You're right, it's $4 less. You want the course?" I've learned that it's good to go into these things with numbers and they should be numbers larger than 4.

exapologist said...

Shoot. That's frustrating. I make about 32k/year adjuncting right now, but I'm still finishing up my dissertation. It puts my frustration of my current pay in perspective.

However, looking at your CV, and papers in preparation, it looks as though your fortune on the job market is about to take a happy turn for the better.

I very much enjoy your blog, btw!

Chris said...

I ‘m a full-time instructor and I started in 2004 at $26K and now am at $29K. I do a 4-4 every semester and usually pick up a summer class for another $3k. I usually do three sections of Introduction to Philosophy with 55 students each and then another course of my choosing (intro ethics or an upper level class of my own design at the junior level).

On the upside, I do have teaching assistants for all my lower level courses, travel funds, a university computer, etc.

Mike Almeida said...

Hi Clayton,

I checked around a little here. We have a senior lecturer that is making about $1000 less per course than you've been offered. This person is emeritis from the best local private university in San Antonio. The only person making close to what you've been offered is in Classics and has been here for a long time. But he's also making less. That is probably good and bad news, since it won't help your appeal (but good to know things could be worse, I guess). On the other hand, the liberal arts college here is notorious for not paying NTT's much.

Clayton said...

Hey Mike,

Thanks for checking on those numbers. If I ever get the chance to negotiate, I'll be sure not to mention them. I appreciate your help. I'm still applying places for next year, so there's a chance of just moving to a better position. The chance is slim, but I'll keep holding out hope.

Hey Exapologist,
That's not bad for adjuncting, although I suppose that depends on a myriad of factors (location, number of courses, etc...). Good luck finishing off that dissertation.

Hey Chris,
It seems like our positions are pretty similar, but I'm a bit jealous you get to teach upper division courses. Traditionally, they don't let us do that here. I did get the opportunity to teach phil religion, but I suspect that that's just because when they were looking for a volunteer to step forward everyone else stepped back. I had a great time teaching that course, but it's only offered every other year.