An Adjunct’s Death Becomes a Rallying Cry for Many in Academe

An op-ed column about the death of a former longtime adjunct faculty member at Duquesne University has drawn new attention to the working conditions of instructors off the tenure track.

The column, published [last] Wednesday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, says that Margaret Mary Vojtko was underpaid and underappreciated during her 25 years of teaching French at the Roman Catholic university, and that she was nearly destitute when she died, on September 1, at the age of 83.

The column’s author, Daniel M. Kovalik, is the senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers union, which led efforts to unionize adjuncts at Duquesne over the past few years. His column, which also describes the working conditions for adjuncts at Duquesne and the institution’s fight against unionization, rippled through the Pittsburgh campus and attracted attention in academic circles nationwide soon after it appeared online Wednesday morning.

Duquesne officials disputed some details in the column and said that Mr. Kovalik was using Ms. Vojtko’s death to further the union’s agenda. <Read more.>

Via Lindsay Ellis, The Chronicle of Higher Education.