Thank you, Leigh Corrette, for your passionate and courageous letter to the editor (April 4, 2012: Adjunct Faculty, Not Administration, Hurt Most in Budget Cuts).
Like Professor Corrette, I, too, have lost my job after teaching at Keene State for thirteen years.
In January, I was informed by Dean Fienberg that I would no longer be permitted to carry a full course load. The reason?
I cost the college too much. My salary: $43,800. Average salary for tenure track: $86,000. A dean’s salary: well over $100,000 (not to mention health insurance, 401K, and job security, none of which adjuncts have access to).
I have been personally invited into my dean’s office so she could praise my teaching record: “What are you doing in your classes….I’ve never seen evaluations like this…you are changing people’s lives…”
I was told by the Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies: “You have a following…you bring students into the program…” Both have told me how much I am valued. I have invested my heart and soul into my students and the KSC community year after year. But as it turns out, merit and commitment are second to money.
When it was time to make budget cuts, losing wonderful teachers just didn’t matter, so long as administrators and tenure track folks went untouched.
Keene State College has a mission statement, one that touts social justice, but when it came time to practice social justice in their own back yard, the privileged and the powerful went silent, protected their own financial interests, protected their own power, took no hit whatsoever, and didn’t hesitate to erase the livelihoods of an already marginalized workforce.
No one forced the administration to come after adjuncts—the administration chose to do that.
But I imagine most of those responsible went home, probably felt really badly, and wished things could be different…
But let’s just remember—simply “feeling bad” does not resurrect one’s character—only action does that.
Just as any family facing the pressure of tough economic times needs to carefully consider how they will save money, we at KSC must do the same, but that should mean that as a community we all chip in, sacrifice, and take care of each other—it shouldn’t mean that while many are losing their jobs, a select few jet off for an exotic safari, ski trip, or Caribbean stay.
The disconnect, the indifference, has been painful to witness.
In the words of my mom, circumstances don’t make the person—they reveal the person.
Liz Pacilio, JD
Adjunct Lecturer: Women’s and Gender Studies; Philosophy; Integrative Studies