After buyouts, DePaul accepts more adjuncts


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

Last spring, DePaul offered qualifying faculty and staff an Early Retirement Incentive in order to reduce the cost of personnel, that would help the University meet the budget. The bulk of the budget is made up of faculty and staff costs. As the name suggests, taking it meant retiring from DePaul and collecting a reward for doing so. Interim Provost since July 1, Salma Ghanem, says that, in the end, the program did produce some savings, “That’s a part of being in a large institution, people go. And you miss them but you move on,” Ghanem said.

On June 24th, DePaul Newsline recognized the 2018-19 retirees. The list had 83 names on it. In July, Human Resources provided a statement that 77 university employees elected the ERIP, 43 were faculty and 34 were staff. Ghanem said anyone who retired, whether they were planning to or not before the buyout offer was given, was eligible. It is unclear who the six employees that did not take the program are.

As is routine at the end of the Spring term, each Dean presented the positions they needed filled for the following year, to the Provost. According to Ghanem, she approved a refill rate of 25 percent for the first year and 40 percent by the second year. She cites a drop in enrollment and student credit hour production as the main reason. “We don’t need as many instructors,” Ghanem said.

Dean of the College of Education, Paul Zionts, whose college lost 4 faculty members, said he was given the go-ahead to fill the vacancies, though they might adjust which areas of expertise are filled.

Even if the vacant positions are eventually refilled by another full-time professor, the buyout still allowed the University to save money. The new hire would make less “significantly less” money than someone nearing retirement, according to Zionts.

Ghanem said she hasn’t heard any negative feedback about the program. However, Associate Professor Quinetta Shelby is interested in how the program will change racial/ethnic demographics of the staff, and hopes that tenure-lines will not be permanently replaced by non-tenure faculty.

“I have concerns that staff and faculty positions may remain vacant,” Shelby said. “I certainly hope that staff have not been left to take on more job responsibilities, especially without a comparable increase in monetary compensation.”

Ghanem could not disclose any salary information, citing it as confidential. However, according to Chronicle Data, full-time professors at DePaul made an average of $131,383 for the contract year in 2017. It was the first time since 2003 that DePaul’s average for this statistic was below the average of other 4-year private universities. Adjunct-faculty are paid per course.

The Faculty Council meeting, held this past Wednesday, introduced a new faculty compensation policy that will give tenured and tenure-track faculty a raise starting this January. This will not be available to any adjunct faculty that may be replacing the retired tenured employees.

School of Music Dean, Ron Caltabiano, Caltabiano filled the one early retirement from his college with adjunct instructors, says he’s found it to be a benefit for his students, “By working with an adjunct we actually have a couple more classes to offer. It was time for us to rethink a lot of things,” said Caltabiano. “I’m not saying that’s what you’ll hear from every dean across the University, but for The School of Music it’s worked out really well.”

Caltabiano worked at five other higher-ed institutions before coming to DePaul. He sees the decision to offer the buyout as part of a trend in the field, “Universities across the country are struggling like crazy. If a college gives up a faculty member or two, it’s for the greater good,” said Caltabiano. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, DePaul has a 15 to 1 student-to-faculty-ratio.

Term faculty were brought in this quarter before the positions are filled permanently. Zionts said the instructors in his department all have PhD’s and that students are getting the same range of courses and education.

“We had faculty retire that were fabulous teachers and faculty retiring who weren’t fabulous teachers,” Zionts said. “We hired some really good people this year so we’re really thrilled.”

Ghanem sees the entire system as a reallocation, shifting around both money and personnel. One that’s done in the nicest way possible. “

It’s the kindest way to see if there’s a faculty member who is looking for retirement. If someone is it’s a nice bc you get a package. It’s not forced it’s not a layoff, it’s totally voluntary,” Ghanem said.

Zionts said Ghanem was very receptive to requests, acting on approving the positions so that the lines could be filled promptly, “Our job is to get the best faculty member here so that students win.”