Open Letter: Pandemic Compensation for PTLs

In December, our union exchanged the following letters with Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Prabhas Moghe, in which we expressed our need for pandemic compensation for all PTLs at Rutgers. In response, Moghe touted a (non-monetary) award that would apply to between one and five PTLs across the university system and an increase to our negotiated PTL professional development fund that occurred last year. He did not address compensation for extra work performed in emergency conditions atop the unpaid work PTLs do on a daily basis. While other institutions offer significant compensation to instructors amid the pandemic, Rutgers University continues to take advantage of the lowest-paid members of its community.


December 22, 2021

Dear Dr. Moghe, 

We hope this message finds you well. We are writing with a special request: that Rutgers award its Part-Time Lecturers pandemic-related compensation for the extra unpaid work they have been doing since March 2020.

As you know, Rutgers Part-Time Lecturers are paid per course, and we are not compensated for pre-semester course preparation, office hours, advising, or other student support we provide. Since the start of the pandemic, PTLs have gone far beyond even this normal uncompensated labor. We made the rapid switch to online teaching, learned new technologies, and made more time available to meet with and support our students. Those of us who were not laid off were given fewer courses to teach, thus reducing our take-home pay, while also teaching larger class sizes, with increased workloads. With no health insurance or income we could count on, dozens of us decided that we could no longer afford to teach here. As we are sure you would agree, that kind of “churn” is bad for our students, and it’s corrosive to the quality of education at the university.

We know that other, comparable schools are recognizing the hardships the pandemic caused their faculty by responding humanely and fairly. For example, Michigan State University (MSU) President Samuel Stanley offered full- and part-time professors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate assistants a $1.5K “pandemic bonus.” In explaining this allocation, Inside Higher Ed quotes President Stanley as saying, “There is great fatigue and stress in the campus community as we continue to confront this dynamic and ongoing pandemic…even without a policy at the national level, we must act at MSU.” We believe this is a model for Rutgers ought to follow. 

As we face continued stress and uncertainty from a pandemic that shows little sign of abating, we hope that Rutgers will act to support its part-time faculty as MSU has done. Such compensation would go a long way in showing Rutgers’ appreciation for the hundreds of adjuncts who have worked so hard during the pandemic to make sure that our students get the best possible education during these very difficult times.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Executive Board


January 7, 2022

Dear PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Executive Board:

Thank you for your message. I hope each of you had a safe and restful holiday break.

The university community has continued to feel the impacts of the pandemic, including especially our adjunct and part-time lecturers, as you point out below. PTLs provide substantive contributions to the teaching mission of the university. Since assuming our roles, President Holloway and I have worked to more actively recognize the valued roles of PTLs and provide enhanced support, such as allocating additional resources to the PTL Professional Development Fund [1], providing advancement opportunities [2], prioritizing appointments for our longest-serving PTLs [3], and initiating a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching by a PTL (to be formally announced later this month) [4].

This is a brief acknowledgment to say that we are sharing your message with the President’s team; in the course of the coming year, we will continue to consider mechanisms and programs for enhanced support for our PTL community.

Thank you, again, for writing.

Prabhas Moghe

[1] The increase to this award amounts to a total of less than $10 per PTL.

[2] This was something we won in our last contract—not something offered willingly by the university.  

[3] This is something we won in a prior contract, and it failed to protect 400 PTLs from getting laid off during the pandemic, and many more from getting the number of courses they teach reduced. It also does nothing to prevent the university from increasing class sizes, which has been happening throughout the pandemic.

[4] This award will not come with any financial compensation.


January 12, 2022

Dear Dr. Moghe,

Thank you for your response to our email of December 22. We hope you also had a safe and restful holiday break. 

Our union appreciates the additional resources allocated to the PTL Professional Development Fund last year. This funding made it possible for some PTLs to purchase the equipment needed to do our jobs during the pandemic. 

The “prioritizing appointments” for long-time PTLs is addressed in the present collective bargaining agreement, though inadequately. At CUNY, for example, long-serving part-time instructors must be offered three-year contracts, during which they are guaranteed to teach at least two courses per semester. At Rutgers, our present contract guarantees long-serving part-time instructors almost nothing. “Advancement opportunities” are also inadequately provided for in the current collective bargaining agreement. Slightly enhanced pay for the very few is a long way from adequate compensation for the many.

We wrote to call your attention to the fact that two other major public universities comparable to Rutgers—Michigan State and California State–have used federal pandemic aid to recognize the long hours of uncompensated labor that adjunct faculty put in to help their universities function during the pandemic. In light of the fact that Rutgers actually laid off 400 part-time instructors in 2020—quite unnecessarily, we believe—we thought that you and President Holloway should consider the idea of direct and significant stipends to PTLs. Providing financial support to those who give much but get little would help give meaning to President Holloway’s aspiration to make Rutgers a beloved community. It would also go a long way to show PTLs that the university really does value our “substantive contributions to the teaching mission of the university,” as you put it. The creation of a new teaching award is certainly a nice gesture, but it fails to address the issues we raise here.

We have copied President Holloway in our emails to you, as we are copying him, and others, in this email as well. Shouldn’t the broader Rutgers community, including students, their parents, and taxpayers, see how little the state university values its teachers?

The PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Executive Board