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The Suburbanite
  • Universities respond to mandates limiting adjunct hours

  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require universities to provide health benefits to an employees who work more than 30 hours. Area schools, who employ hundreds of adjuncts, are taking steps to ensure part timers will not go above that limit.

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  • Five area universities employ more than 2,500 adjuncts — many of whom are facing cuts in work hours.   
    When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, goes into effect in January 2014, employers, including universities, must offer health benefits to employees who work 30 hours or more a week. Some schools have reduced the number of classes an adjunct may teach to ensure they will not go beyond that 30-hour threshold. Some schools are still considering what action to take, and some say they won’t be affected.
    Stark State College administrators and faculty have already met to “review courses and evaluate the time needed to teach each course,” said spokesperson Irene Motts.   
    The school’s 550 adjuncts are limited to course loads that do not require more than an average of 29 hours per week, Motts said. Adjuncts must report their hours, via computer, every two weeks.
    Malone University hires 114 adjuncts annually, primarily in the college of theology, arts and sciences. Adjuncts already are limited to two classes per semester, so no changes are needed for compliance with the new law.
     “They do track their hours for prep time and grading as well as time spent in the classroom,” said spokesperson Suzie Thomas. “We use a tracking formula to assure that they do not exceed 30 hours per week.”
    Kent State University is “still exploring” the implications of the law, according to Alvin Evans, interim vice president for human resources.
    “The university has not taken any actions or made any decisions that would impact faculty’s assignments, hours or requirements,” Evans said.
    Kent’s main campus employs 777 adjuncts per year, but spokesman Eric Mansfield said the “vast majority” of those would not be affected by the law, because they don’t teach enough classes to approach the 30-hour limit.
    The University of Mount Union doesn’t officially limit its 67 adjuncts, but spokesperson Melissa Gardner said the new law will have a “nearly non-existent impact” because most adjuncts do not teach more than two classes.
    The University of Akron, site of a protest by adjuncts on Wednesday, will limit its part-time instructors to eight credit hours per semester.
    “No time sheets. Our standardized approach eliminates the need for clocking in and out, reporting hours,” said Provost Mike Sherman.
    The university employs more than 1,000 part time instructors, but officials estimate only 400 teach more than eight credit hours. Chand Midha, dean of the arts and sciences college, which employs the most part-time instructors, said he is creating 20 new visiting lecturer positions that will be full time with benefits.
    Some schools declined to release salary information, but the approximate salary for area adjuncts is $1,800 to $2,500 per semester for a three-credit hour course.
    Page 2 of 2 - A loophole in the Affordable Care Act will allow adjuncts to work 30 or more hours if they split the hours between different universities. Sherman said they are sharing the names of Akron’s adjuncts with other schools.
    “We recognize that if we collaborate like this, the part-time individuals have the potential to aggregate as much work as they’d like among the institutions in this region.”
    Reach Saimi at 330-580-8493 or saimi.bergmann@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: sbergmannREP
    DEFINING PART TIME
    How the eight-credit hour maximum at the University of Akron was calculated:
    A full-time faculty member is assumed to work 40 hours per week to teach 12 credit hours.
    The Obamacare-mandated limit of 30 hours equals 75 percent of 40 hours.
    Seventy five percent of 12 credit hours equals nine credit hours.  
    Thus, to stay under the 30-hour limit, the University of Akron will limit part timers to eight credit hours.  
    Source: Chand Midha, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
    WHY ADJUNCTS?
    “Adjuncts are often employed in the professional fields they teach and bring current, real-world experience to the classroom which takes students beyond a textbook education. Also, adjunct faculty are often hired to address fluctuation in enrollment numbers. As enrollment grows and more class sections are offered, sometimes just prior to the start of a semester, adjunct faculty are called upon to fill those slots.” — Irene Motts,  director of communications, Stark State College
    “There are some courses that are not taught every semester - perhaps even only once every two years. In these cases, it makes sense to hire an adjunct - especially one who has a great deal of expertise in that area - to teach these courses, rather than a full-time faculty member.”  —Suzie Thomas, director of university relations, Malone University