Faculty share thoughts on semester conversion

By Shelby Willard

As converting to semesters in fall 2018 looms closer for the Cal Poly Pomona community, some faculty are growing increasingly fearful.

CPP has made a significant effort to reach out to students to inform them of the change and what it may mean for their degree progress.

But what about the professors?

Peg Lamphier, an adjunct professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education, has already felt the burden of this fear.

“I’ve been freaking out for a while,” said Lamphier, referring to a meltdown she recently had on the way home from work.

Initially, one of the many benefits of the semester conversion was that it would save the university millions of dollars. But it may not save jobs.

According to Anthropology Professor and California Faculty Association Chapter President Dorothy Wills, staff members have been well aware of potential cuts.

“We’ve been told that, once the whole CSU system is on the same calendar, more functions will be centralized, which means individual campuses won’t need as many people to run them,” Wills said.

CPP has been on a quarter system since its beginning, so the elimination of some enrollment periods consequently means that there will be less staff needed to man classes.

“There are fewer graduation periods, final exam and grading periods,” saidWills.

Lamphier boasts about her students and job; however, her passion for teaching will not secure her a job after the semester conversion.

“The most important thing to know about conversions, the thing that students don’t know is there is no such thing as faculty,” said Lamphier.

According to Lamphier, there are two types of professors at CPP: tenure and adjunct staff.

“We look alike to [students], but we’re not the same,” said Lamphier.

According to Lamphier, tenure faculty are higher paid, yet teach less classes. Adjunct faculty are paid less, but teach more classes.

“Here, I make $45,000 a year,” said Lamphier. “I make a lot less than my friend who teaches first grade.”

When someone is hired as adjunct faculty, they are hired with a contingent contract on the basis of being a temporary, part time staff member. If adjunct professors, like Lamphier, want to be full-time, they must teach four classes, whereas tenure staff only have to teach three.

“Tenure people, they don’t have to worry, because their jobs are completely safe,” said Lamphier.

However, Lamphier is an adjunct professor. She’s as secure as an adjunct professor can be with a three-year contract, but she is still seen as less qualified than tenure faculty ” despite being highly recommended by students.

“Tenure trumps skill or qualifications when it comes to the classroom,” an anonymous source adds. “You can have a terrific teacher, and they can have their class taken away by a tenure staff member who cannot fill their class.”

The anonymous source is an adjunct professor who is at high risk for losing his or her job.

Tenure faculty have been involved in negotiations with the administration on how they will combat the new curriculum, while maintaining the jobs on campus.

But the lack of communication between administration and staff is what is causing uncertainty amongst professors.

“The only people that have told adjunct faculty of any loss of work have been union representatives,” said the anonymous source. “Not knowing is kind of the scariest thing.”

When asked whether students could help in the matter, Lamphier was at a loss.

“I don’t know,” said Lamphier. “I care passionately about my students, but there’s a limit to what they can do.

“I think [students] have immense power. It’s just going to be hard because someone’s going to have to listen to you.”

Students have taken small steps to start an organization to give students a voice on campus regarding the staff cuts.

The organization is called Union of Student Interests, otherwise known as USI.

It is merely a Facebook group now, but the organization hopes to grow as more students realize that their favorite professors might not be teaching in three years.

For now, the adjunct faculty will continue to battle the idea of going job-hunting.

“Compared to a lot of people in the world, I have it pretty good, but it’s a little frustrating,” said Lamphier. “I’m 52 years old. I just want to keep my job.”

Teaching jobs

Sungah Choi / The Poly Post

Teaching jobs

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