Part-time professors ratify new contract

by Dina Kleiner / Beacon Staff • April 23, 2015

On Tuesday, the college’s adjunct professors voted 184-3 to make a new contract official, which includes an increase in pay, professional development funding, and better job security, according to the contract’s press release.

Andre Puca, an adjunct professor in the visual and media arts department, said the new contract is a significant improvement for part-time faculty.

“This will go a long way toward providing part-time faculty with a living wage, which is what we want,” Puca said. “And that means better student learning conditions.”

According to the new contract, some faculty’s pay will increase by 30 percent. The most senior faculty will also receive contracts lasting three years.

Adjunct faculty members up for promotion who make it past the first round of eliminations will be guaranteed a phone interview. David Kociemba, the president of the adjunct faculty union—called the Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College—and an adjunct professor, said this allows faculty easier access to seniority status and the associated yearlong contract offers, benefits, and pay raises.

Funding for professional development—like trips to conferences and workshops for professors—has also increased under the new contract.

Kociemba said the increase in resources acknowledges the importance of quality, not just quantity, in a professor’s work.

“There’s not a lot of ways that you can get ahead in Emerson through quality teaching. Most of the ways you get ahead is by getting a book published, a poetry deal, a scholarship in a leading journal, get a new play on broadway, things like that,” Kociemba said. “So, this is a step towards recognizing good pedagogy and rewarding it financially.”

Senior affiliated faculty can now also attend graduate classes at the college to work toward another degree if seats are still open after students enroll. A new merit pay bonus was also established to award professors for excellent teaching and service, according to the new contract.

One adjunct per department will also be paid to attend department meetings and represent the adjuncts, according to Kociemba. He said this will help create a better framework for communication between department chairs, deans, and faculty.

“Having someone there in the room who gathers information allows us to sort of us say, ‘Here’s what it’s like from our trenches,’” Kociemba said. “And curriculum decisions are best made when everybody who’s teaching it puts in their voice.”

An Emerson spokeswoman told the Boston Business Journal on April 21 that the college felt positively about the new contract.

“Emerson greatly values its adjunct faculty and the experience they provide our students; they are an important part of our campus community,” the spokeswoman said.

Puca said he hopes the changes implemented in the new contract allow faculty to create a better learning environment, not just for themselves, but also for students.

“We can hopefully support ourselves increasingly on an Emerson salary,” Puca said. “Once that becomes the case, that provides us more time to commit to student recommendations, mentoring outside the classroom, providing career counseling.”