Professors disgruntled by cut in compensation

Michelle Herrick

Michelle Herrick

Many professors who received a pay cut earlier this year are refusing to teach extra courses.

This decrease in compensation affects professors who teach overload, summer, Sioux Falls or online courses.

Previously, professors were being paid 8 percent of their 9-month base salary for each course.

With the new compensation guidelines imposed by the Board of Regents, the rate is based on enrollment, which leaves most professors only getting 6 percent.

“I’m still doing all the work and preparation even when students drop out for whatever reason,” said English Professor John Taylor, who teaches online courses during the summer.

Theoretically, a professor who makes $50,000 during the academic year receives $4,000 for these courses at the 8 percent rate.

That professor now receives $3,000 at the 6 percent rate.

This new compensation package applies to all departments and professors at all six state regent universities.

The rate varies based on how many students are enrolled in the class.

If 21 or more students are in the class than the instructor is paid 8 percent of their base salary to teach the course.

If the class has 16 to 19 students, the instructor gets 7 percent; 13 to 15 students is 6 percent; and 12 or fewer is 6 percent.

The Council of Higher Education (COHE) is the faculty union that is involved in negotiating contracts with the Board of Regents.

Ron Utecht, state president of COHE, said it is not a common practice at other universities to compensate professors based on enrollment.

“The typical rate, nationally, is 10 percent for these types of courses,” said Utecht.

Utecht said his goal is to maximize the number of students taking summer courses.

“As the campus grows, more courses will be offered in the summer,” he said, “So it’s important that professors are compensated fairly.”

“It depends on the department, but most professors say their classes have fewer than 20 students,” Utecht said.

“I usually have 10 students or just over,” said Political Science Professor Del Lonowski.

Lonowski normally teaches State and Local Government and Current World Problems in Sioux Falls and during the summer.

“I won’t teach these courses for less than 8 percent,” Lonowski said.

The Board of Regents imposed this new compensation package for a variety of reasons, but mainly so they wouldn’t have to raise tuition rates.

“The cost of delivering these courses is covered by tuition,” said Jim Shekleton, who is general counsel for the Board of Regents.

“We want to remain competitive with other institutions,”said Shekleton. “and in order to do this we have to keep tuition as low as possible.”

Shekleton said that the schools have had no problem staffing these courses.

The Vice-President of Academic Affairs Carol Peterson said the administration has heard a lot of complaints ever since this issue was proposed.

“It was not my judgment that we were overpaying faculty for these courses,” Peterson said. “I was reasonably content with it.”

Christine Larson, head of COHE for SDSU, said she has heard complaints from a lot of professors, some who are not going to teach courses this summer because of the new compensation rates.

“We fear that there is going to be fewer classes,” Larson said. “Summer courses are going to suffer because they will be taught by people who are not as qualified. In the long term, this is going to hurt the students.”

Larson has taught mathematics at SDSU for 12 years and she has decided not to teach summer courses either, unless the rate is changed back to 8 percent.

“We’ll continue to bring the problems this issue raises to the bargaining table,” Larson said.