Like many businesses, Illinois Central College relies on its part-time staff just as much as its full-time staff.
In the fall, there were 318 adjuncts, or part-time teachers, at ICC compared to 175 full-time instructors. Most adjuncts can teach up to 11 credit hours per semester.
William Tammone, provost and chief academic officer at Illinois Central College, said, “The adjunct faculty is clearly greater than the full-time factor but the full-time faculty teach far more classes than the part-time faculty so the percentages are quite different.”
For example, in the fall, the number of credit sections and credit hours taught by full-time faculty were 58.49 percent and 61.85 percent, respectively.
In 2010, an ICC employee profile report revealed that 30 percent of ICC’s faculty was full-time, but they taught 54 percent of the credit hours. Tammone said this report is done every four years.
According to the report, “ICC ranked at the 50th percentile among National Community College Benchmark Project colleges for credit hours taught by full-time faculty.”
Tammone said that community colleges have to rely on adjuncts because enrollment fluctuates.
“A university can control the number of students that it serves, and therefore, the number of classes it has to offer by controlling the number of students it admits,” he said. “As open access institutions, community colleges can’t do that so our enrollments — this is true across the country — they tend to rise and fall, particularly with the economy.”
Tammone said when the unemployment rate is high, many people go back to school to refine their skills.
“In 2010, when this data was collected, our enrollments were particularly high. That was near the peak of the recession. Our enrollments this fall were considerably lower, about 2,000 fewer students than we had that fall. That translates to 20,000 or more credit hours and that means hundreds of classes that are different,” Tammone said.
Another factor that has to be considered at ICC, in addition to the balancing act of faculty and students, is the number of classes offered.
“If we try to meet an increase in enrollment by trying to match that with an increase in the number of full-time faculty, we could be in a position where we don’t have enough classes for the full-time enrollment to teach when enrollment goes down again,” Tammone said. “To a certain extent it’s like many businesses. It’s cyclical. We have to rely to a great extent on part-time faculty for that reason, to meet the demand when it increases and cut back when it decreases.”
Even though adjuncts must have the same qualifications as full-time faculty, their pay is different. The entry level minimum pay rate for adjunct professors in the fall was $610 per credit hour with a maximum rate of $810 per credit hours.
“So you do have some faculty with higher credentials than others, but the minimum credentials depends on what they’re teaching. If they’re teaching a transferable course, we expect them to have a master’s degree or higher. ... That would be true of adjuncts as well,” Tammone said.
“If they’re teaching say a current technical education class that’s non-transferable we expect them to have a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes we will hire people with an associate’s degree with the understanding that they will work toward a bachelor’s degree within a reasonable amount of time.”
The majority of the 493 staff members at ICC have master’s degrees or higher, Tammone said.
The full-time staff are in an independent, locally formed bargaining unit called the ICC Faculty Forum. Their pay scale for academic year 2013-14 has 25 “steps” or numbers of years experience on the base salary chart.
The starting salary with an associate’s degree is $39,304. The highest end of the pay scale is $73,994 for someone with a doctorate degree. A step 1 with an associate’s degree makes $40,266 compared to a step 25 with an associate’s degree at $66,421. A step 1 employee with a master’s degree makes $43,562 compared to a step 25 at $70,207.
Teachers can earn above their base salary if they teach in the summer or teach more than 30 credit hours a year, which is referred to as teaching an overload, Tammone said.
“The amount of work outside of class typically exceeds the amount of time in class. They have to prep, and in English for instance, grading papers. Many of them put in more than 40 (hours per week),” Tammone said. “Many of them not only teach on overload, but are also on college committees which demands a great deal of their time.”
The types of courses someone with an associate’s would teach include automotive or an EMT class.
“In some cases real world experience is just as important as their academic credentials when it comes to career and technical education,” Tammone said.
He added that part-time faculty add a “great deal of value to the institution” for this same reason.
“Many of them are in the workplace, at Caterpillar or wherever in the community, and they bring with them a lot of real world experience that our full-time faculty don’t necessarily have,” Tammone said.
Tammone said one of the more popular courses being taught at ICC now is nursing.
“That’s long been a high enrollment program and we anticipate that to continue being the case,” he said. “More baby boomers are retiring and there’s a greater need for health care.”
Full-time staff are covered by the school’s self insured program through Mutual Medical, while part-timers are not covered.
Currently, the contract for full-time staff is being negotiated. The contract expires this summer.
“For some faculty the only issue is salary so that’s an important factor but there are many other issues that we talk through just trying to improve our processes. We don’t expect any serious disagreements,” Tammone said.
ICC has locations in East Peoria, North Peoria and a learning center in Pekin.