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New Documentary Sheds Light On Financial Struggles Of Part-Time Professors


A new documentary titled "Professors in Poverty" focuses on the trend of hiring part-time and adjunct instructors in higher institutions while eliminating full-time, tenured positions to save money.

The movie by "Brave New Films" says adjunct professors' average salary has been cut in half between 1970 and 2008. Heather Toland is a part time professor at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. She works another part time job when she isn't teaching biology, and thinks she has a lot in common with her students.

Toland: "They are all struggling and working really hard, too. It’s more about, ‘Yep, we’re all in this together’ – that’s what it feels like to me. We are dependent on Oregon Health Plan for our health insurance – thank goodness for it. It’s been a rough, rough road."

It's estimated about one-third of the part-time professors in Oregon are on some form of public assistance. Geology professor Mariah Tilman hopes the film changes the public perspective of higher education.

Tilman: "When you say you’re a professor at the college level, they assume you’re making a lot of money. And we need to make it clear that we’re not. You know, I hesitate to blame the college, because the college is working within the money that is given to them by the state, and the public."

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