Adjunct Stories

Adjunct Stories: 
What life is like as "contingent" faculty at USF:

"I teach 6-8 classes per semester at 2-4 colleges to make ends meet. Its a costly and constant commute. I often work in a state of resentment and fear due to no job security, low pay, and no advancement opportunity. 

"The adjunct contingency faculty model mirrors the corporate model whereby the most vulnerable are exploited. Our students and their parents are unaware the Jesuit mission and their education is compromised.”

 Anonymous (name and department withheld by request)

"I am an adjunct at USF and at Foothill College. While I genuinely love teaching, this job might just be the death of me. I commute between 30-34 hours a week to teach one class at each campus. I drive about 6 hours a day to teach 1 hour MWF and 2 hours T/TH. Transportation costs eat up about 1/3 of my very small salary. 

"Most days I feel that I wasted my life acquiring a PhD. It is difficult to inspire students to pursue higher ed when the system has failed me. The majority of people I know with absolutely no degree in higher education are able to own a home, repair vehicles, and see the doctor on a regular basis. 

"We talk about student food insecurities. What about adjunct food insecurity? Or insecurity for my family? If things don't change within the next year, I'll need to leave academia for self-preservation. I know of no other system that so actively cannibalizes itself in the name of the greater good."

Anonymous, College of Arts & Sciences  (name withheld by request)

"I’ve been teaching at the university level for 12 years and have always been an adjunct. In order to make ends meet, I have to teach between 9 and 11 classes a year at multiple universities. I've always had housemates, and I’m still paying graduate school loans fifteen years on.

"Finally and happily, I have medical care (not dental) through USF, but my benefits end if I don’t receive a class." 

Anonymous  (name and department withheld by request)


“Even with years of experience, delivering the kind of attention that our students deserve seems impossible when I have to have a second or third job.”

Anonymous  (name and department withheld by request)



“Reading other USF Adjuncts’ Stories, I’m struck by how few, if any, allow our names and departments to be used. We live in fear, even with a union and a contract.

"I’m afraid of retaliation by my dean and chair who will not offer me a class to teach if I file a grievance, speak out or get `uppity’ about seniority in course assignments. 

 "My chair is full time faculty – in another USF union. Why is he allowing himself to be manipulated by Administration as a manager to control part time faculty?" 

Anonymous  (name and department withheld by request)

“One class at USF is a $7520 chunk of my livelihood and means access to health care. If I lose that, my family loses health care.

 “A second class means I might make a total of $15,000 a semester at USF.  It’s better pay than some places, but still it’s `serf’ wages and zero status.  If I get to teach 2 semesters with 2 courses each, that’s still only $30,000 a year.  So, I have to work 2 other jobs just for my family to live.”

Anonymous  (name and department withheld by request)


 “Full Time Faculty at USF make about $100,000 to $160,000 a year, teaching usually 2 classes per semester (+ service + research).

 “Part Time Faculty at USF teach most of the classes at USF. We are paid $7520 to $10,760 for a 4 unit class.  If we teach 2 classes in a semester, we make between $15,000 to $21,000.  If we’re lucky, we teach both semesters, so our income is $30,000 to $42,000 a year.  We do research and service on our own time, without pay.  How is this fair, or “social justice”?

Anonymous  (name and department withheld by request)

“President Fitzgerald and Provost Heller are giving USF Full Time Faculty pay increases of 3% (fall 2019) and 4% (fall 2020 and 2021).  That’s a pay increase of about $3,000 to $4,800 (3% in 2019) and another of $4,120 to $6,592 (4% in 2020) for each Full Time Faculty now making between $100,000 to $160,000.

“The President and Provost refuse to give Part Time Faculty the same 3% and 4% increases.  But 3% for lesser paid Adjuncts now making $7520 to $42,000 a year is only an additional $225 to $1260 for each Part Time Faculty (depending on how many classes we teach).

“Compared with the 3% pay raise of $3,000 to $4,800 for each Full Time Faculty, it’s actually much cheaper to give Part Time Faculty a similar percentage raise.  How can the President and Provost even consider not giving an equal percentage raise to some of our best, and most vulnerable, faculty?”

Anonymous  (name and department withheld by request)

"A Contingent Life: The Life of Adjunct Faculty"
created by Sue Bae 2018
The Story Center's Digital Storytelling workshop in Menlo Park