About two months ago, I interviewed for an adjunct teaching position as head of a jazz guitar department at a university in the San Francisco Bay area. The school had fewer than five guitar majors at the time and was a one-hour drive from my residence. Despite being guitar majors, each student received only one half-hour lesson per week. As with all university positions, a PhD was preferred, though a Masters was acceptable. Extensive teaching experience, including experience teaching at the university level was a must. You also had to be recognized an accomplished professional guitarist, preferably with publishing credits to your name.
The interview started off perfectly well. The sample lesson taught to a senior went very well. I had no difficulty fielding questions about my experience as a teacher, my teaching philosophy, and ways I intended to recruit more students. Among my responsibilities would be creating a curriculum and attending juries.
Apparently, I would have to pay the $2.00 an hour parking fee and coordinate a teaching schedule with the students. There was also the chance that I would have to come in on one or two days to teach only one student for thirty minutes.
The final part of the interview revealed that I would only be paid for teaching lessons. No compensation would be available for creating the curriculum, attending juries and recitals, or spending time recruiting students. While this was a bit of a surprise, the final blow had yet to arrive.
The chair of the department took out a calculator and began going through the university's convoluted breakdown of how many teaching units each student represents. He continued to make a number of calculations. When he finished, I looked down and saw a the number 75 encircled. "This is what you are paid per student, per month," he said. I asked him to confirm the number represented the monthly rate, not the hourly rate. He nodded.
I quickly did some math of my own and realized that I was being offered $37.50 per hour before taxes, parking, etc. If one considers inflation rates, the pay rate was at least $10.00 less than what I was making 15 years ago before I had completed my undergraduate schooling.
Of course, I politely declined to go further, especially when I realized I might have to take about three hours of a day to teach one student amounting to less than $10.
Most of us are aware of the ever-increasing university tuition rates. Where is that money going? Certainly not in the pockets of the professors. The biggest losers in the end? The students, as always.
How is it that any academic institution demands of its prospective professors graduate degrees, extensive teaching experience, publications, et al and expects to get any self-respecting professor for such a meager wage?
As much as I love to teach, I feel that I should be adequately compensated for my skills, experience, and credentials as an educator. To accept less only foments resentment and contempt for the institution.