For over 75 years, Portland State University (PSU) has served its students, the city of Portland and the State of Oregon by providing high quality education to all who enroll, including high numbers of non-traditional and minoritized students. In 2022, 80% of PSU’s students were Oregonians, 39.6% identified as BIPOC, and 47.4% were first-generation college attendees. To meet its stated mission of “creat(ing) an equitable and sustainable future through academic excellence, urban engagement, and expanding opportunity for all,” it is urgent that the PSU administration and Board of Trustees reverse the disinvestment in its adjunct faculty and provide livable wages and fair compensation for these essential educators.
Adjunct instructors account for approximately 47% of the instructional staff at PSU and teach almost 40% of student credit hours. Every student who attends PSU is taught by an adjunct at some point in their education. But adjunct faculty also do much more than teach classes. They mentor students, write letters of recommendation, develop courses, conduct research, write grants, and serve as important role models. Adjuncts are essential to shaping student experience, education, retention, and success. They are the public servants who serve the diverse populations that PSU was founded to educate and engage.
Adjunct working conditions are student learning conditions, and PSU students–particularly our BIPOC and first-generation students–deserve faculty who are compensated with livable wages, benefits, and dignified working conditions. The over 1000 adjunct faculty at PSU deserve pay which reaches parity with their full-time counterparts and keeps up with cost of living. Currently, PSU does not provide raises to adjuncts based on their length of service. This means that adjuncts working at the university for 10 and even 20 years still make the minimum rate. Adjuncts deserve raises which recognize their career excellence, their essential labor, and their service to students and the University.
For Portland State University to fulfill its mission to our city and state, increase its enrollment, retain–and truly serve–its diverse student body, it must start compensating adjuncts fairly.
We, the undersigned, request PSU to increase the budget and compensation for adjunct faculty: