Possible solution in sight for adjunct paycheck problem

Dr. Richard McCallum - Vice President for academic affairs

Dr. Richard McCallum – Vice President for academic affairs

For part-time instructors, the difference between being paid monthly or starting the semester with a two-week delay is a month and a half without a check.

Administrators and adjunct staff are trying to figure out how to fix the issue. Part of the discussion centers on the new pay-period time frame instituted with the Banner software.

“This particular software system is a lot more precise,” said Debbie Dutch Kelley, director of human resources. “The Banner system only allows once-a-month pay. There is approximately a two week delay from the past [semesters] for the receipt of the first check.”

For adjunct professors, that delay hits hard. Because they are not teaching classes, there are months where they do not get paid.

Kim Horner, adjunct professor of English, felt the budget crunch this year. Her last check for the fall semester was cut just before Christmas, and she received her first check for the spring semester, which began Jan 8, during the last week of February.

“No one should have to wait six weeks, seven weeks, eight weeks before they get paid for the job they are doing,” Horner said. “It’s just wrong.”

Dr. Dale Simpson, department head for English and philosophy, understands the difficulty faced by adjuncts.

“I think what would make the part-timers situation much better,” Simpson said. “Is to get that paycheck at the end of January, at the end of the month, at which you were teaching.”

The administration may have found a solution, according to Dr. Richard McCallum, vice president for academic affairs.

“When we converted to Banner and lost that mid-month pay option the process changed,” McCallum said. “And so what we’re trying to do is to is be responsive to needs of our faculty.

“We’re trying to ensure that we can pay them in a timely way and we’re trying to create a new blueprint for how that is done.”

McCallum said the number of adjuncts on campus during a semester can fluctuate between 80 and 100.

McCallum is concerned about the turnaround time for paperwork, contracts and the signatures required before checks can be issued.

“I think that in many cases it’s a positive possibility,” McCallum said. “But it also requires that the contracts be executed in a very timely manner.”

Horner said adjuncts would be motivated to get their contracts in early if it would resolve the problem.

“If someone new were coming in, that would be more of a problem because they would have their tax forms to fill out,” Horner said, adding most of the adjuncts she knows have been at Southern for years and sign a single-page contract.

While Horner and others like her believe they need a more consistent pay flow, the reason they teach is the students.

“I love it. If I didn’t like it, I’d quit,” Horner said. “I was a student at this college, I teach here because I love teaching freshman comp. We learn to read, we learn to write, we learn to think critically. This class is a foundation for every other class students take.”