About 30 part-time faculty rallied on campus May 1 to express dissatisfaction with receiving potentially reduced work schedules. The main issue involves a decision by the University to limit part-time instructors to 8 credit hours per semester.
The issue of managing part-time work load is facing universities and industries around the country, because of changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act. For example, under the Affordable Care Act, part-time faculty employees who work on average 30 or more hours per week, must be offered health care insurance; and, the IRS has determined that universities must also consider non-classroom hours, such as grading and preparation, in determining the number of hours worked.
Though UA has slightly more than 1,000 part-time faculty, about 400 of them typically teach more than 8 credit hours per fall semester, and thus arguably work 30 or more hours per week. The cost of providing health care to those part-time faculty at The University of Akron would approach $4 million. Alternatives include hiring more part-time faculty, increasing full-time faculty work load, and creating more temporary visiting lecturer positions.
According to Provost Mike Sherman, UA is working with other universities to create opportunities for part-time instructors to teach courses at multiple campus locations. In academic areas in which there are not enough part-time instructors, the colleges are considering creating positions for temporary visiting lecturers, who will teach 12 credit hours each semester and receive benefits.
Currently, full-time faculty teach 55 percent of total student credit hours at UA. Part-time faculty teach 40 percent of total student credit hours, with graduate assistants making up the rest. There are 1,014 part-time faculty, representing 56 percent of the teaching faculty.
"We have figured out ways to adjust teaching schedules to meet the needs of our students and to ensure their success," said Sherman. "That is our mission and our goal."
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