Good evening, and thank you for your time. My name is Kevin Kean, and I am a part-time contingent instructor (also known as an adjunct) at CCSU. While you consider the thorny issue of higher education funding in a time of economic challenges, I would like to offer you a different perspective than the ones you typically hear. Specifically, I would like to offer my views as member of the part-time faculty. Cuts to the Connecticut State College and University system will affect people like me far more than you might imagine.
Most people would assume that Connecticut state employees, and college faculty in particular, are well compensated and have very generous benefit packages. I am here to tell you that this is not necessarily true. Out of the approximately 6700 CSCU system instructional faculty, about 4600 of us are part-time and contingent. That is about 68% of the faculty across the system. We do not enjoy the protections of tenure. We are employed at-will, meaning we can simply not be hired at the start of any given semester. It does not matter how good we are or how many years we’ve taught. There is no guarantee of employment for us.
Part-time faculty make a fraction of the salary of our full-time colleagues. We enjoy few benefits. We are under-resourced when it comes to office space, access to equipment, supplies, and professional development. You get the point. We know what austerity is about. We bear the brunt of it for the system.
When cuts are made to the system, one of the big ways these are absorbed is to cut courses. This does not affect the full-time faculty, who have their courses guaranteed. It does affect the part-time majority, however. Some of us will lose courses. Some of us may lose all our courses. If we have our health insurance through the system and we drop below the minimum number of credits, we lose that too. How many of you could afford to lose 10%, 20%, or more of your income and possibly your health insurance too? This is how substantial cuts to CSCU will likely affect the part-time faculty.
Our students will also be affected in a way you might not have thought about. Part-time faculty disproportionately teach some of the most at-risk students in the system: Those in introductory, remedial, and special needs courses. These students are already at greater risk of doing poorly, taking longer to complete their degrees, and failing to complete their degrees than the general student population. What happens to them when the part-timers who are experienced in teaching them (some with 10, 20, or more years’ experience) are not given courses? Our most vulnerable students will also likely suffer as a result of substantial cuts.
In sum, I hope you can see that CSCU is not as well-resourced as you might assume. In terms of instruction and instructional faculty, there is not a lot left to cut without negative impacts. Both our students and faculty will be adversely affected. I hope you will consider public higher education as an investment in Connecticut, its citizens, and its future; rather than as an expense to be minimized. As several others have reminded you, public colleges and universities in Connecticut used to be affordable. At CCSU, for example, full-time tuition was about $500.00 per semester up until the mid-1980s. It is now over $5000.00 per semester. CSCU is a major asset for our state, and it can continue to be; but only if it is fully funded going forward.
Again, thank you for your time this evening.