The variety and participation of instructors in classes contributes greatly to the function and quality of a university. There are myriad opportunities present for students to become involved with courses, either as an instructor or as an assistant.
NJIT’s website on graduate funding states, “There are over 300 teaching and research assistantships available in academic departments, which are funded internally or externally.” There are four main categories: research assistants, teaching assistants, graders, and provost doctoral assistantships. Research assistants are under faculty supervision; they conduct research as part-time workers totaling 20 hours or fewer per week.
Teaching assistants must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 to receive this award. They have the same 20-hour responsibility as research assistants, and their tasks include — but are not limited to — conducting recitations, teaching laboratory sessions, and grading submissions. There is a separate service involving only graders – these are appointed part-time and work under faculty supervision on an hourly basis.
Provost doctoral assistantships are open to full-time entering Ph.D. students. According to NJIT’s Ph.D. assistant flyer, “Holders of these assistantships will be given instructional assignments within their school/college relating to the retention of first-year students.” These can be nominated by department chairs and college deans; first- and second-years are funded by the university, and third- and fourth-years are funded by grants.
A quick Google search will show that NJIT is actively hiring adjunct professors, some full-time and some part-time. Adjuncts are “professors who are hired on a temporary track, often to teach [or lecture] only a course or two for a single semester or year” according to PracticalAdultInsights. In 2021, the average salary was $5,175 at NJIT, as reported by OpenPayrolls.
NJIT’s adjunct ethics page includes that “NJIT adjuncts are required to file an Outside Employment Questionnaire for Adjuncts at least every three years and every time they have new outside activities to disclose.” Universities tend to hire adjuncts as a method to save money since they do not have to provide as many benefits. Adjuncts typically need to follow more constraints in universities because they are hired for a limited time period, unlike tenured or tenure-track faculty, but they can still have the same course load as full-time, tenured instructors.
Tenured faculty usually have contracts attached to their profession or are working towards meeting contract requirements if they are on the tenure-track, allowing them to have a relatively secure position for a longer time period. According to a 2021 article published on Best Colleges, “In 1969, about 78% of [United States] faculty members worked in a tenured or tenure-track role. By 2018, that number dropped to around 20%.”
There are several unions, or organized associations of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests, available to staff and faculty at NJIT. The Professional Staff Association became the recognized agent in the fall of 1970. According to its website, “In 1988, the PSA approved the affiliation with the American Association of University Professors. The PSA represents all tenured and tenure track faculty, University and Sr. University Lecturers, Professors of Practice, Visiting Professors, Professional Staff, Full-time instructors in their adjunct capacity, and Academic Administrators, up to Associate Dean with academic rank.” PSA’s 2022-2024 governing board officers include:
President – Amitabha Bose
Faculty Vice President – Burt Kimmelman
Professional Staff Vice President – Michael Kehoe
The Lecturer’s and Educator’s Congress represents tenured and non-tenured faculty. According to NJIT’s website, the organization “has the authority to recommend policies and procedures; issue appropriate approvals; collaborate, consult, and communicate with other university stakeholder groups and their members, as well as the administration; draw upon the services of instructional staff; collect and disseminate information; and designate representatives in matters affecting its membership including but not limited to the Faculty Senate, University Senate, and university search committees.” The executive council includes:
Interim President – Maria Stanko, Dept. of Biology (term expires 2022)
Interim Vice-President – Jaskirat Sodhi, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (term expires 2022)
Executive Secretary – Catherine Siemann, Dept. of Humanities (term expires 2024)
Treasurer – Scott Kent, Dept. of History (term expires 2024)
Webmaster – Geraldine Milano, Civil and Environmental Engineering (term expires 2024)
The United Council of Academics at NJIT, or UCAN, represents adjunct professors, teaching assistants, research assistants, and postdoctoral members. Its mission statement states, “Together, we are committed to advancing the academic mission of this university. We know that improving conditions for academic workers will attract the best and the brightest minds, and we believe that an institution at this level should live by the highest standards of fairness and justice in treating its workers.” Its executive council includes:
President – Brian O’Donnell
Vice President – Andy McCarthy
Secretary-Treasurer – Ayushi Sangoi
Member-at-Large – Miriam LaFuente
Member-at-Large – Manuel Hercules
Member-at-Large – Nicholas Harty
Member-at-Large – Jake Brusca
UCAN’s contract states that the minimum pay is $1,850 per credit hour, equaling about $5,550 for a general three-credit course. Postdocs, professional researchers who have completed their doctoral studies, earn a minimum of $49,882 a year. Research and teaching assistants earn a minimum of $28,500 a year — $25,500 during the academic year and $3,000 during the summer.
Instructors play a significant role on campus, and unions provide a platform for them to protect their rights and equal treatment based on their involvement.