David Atkinson is president of MacEwan University. (His salary of $360,000, let it be said, is more than $100,000 less than his colleagues at NAIT, SAIT, NorQuest or the University of Lethbridge earn.)
Universities hire sessionals, he says, because they allow universities to respond quickly, economically and flexibly to ebbs and flows in enrolment pressures. But while MacEwan relies on sessionals, Atkinson sees the problems with that model.
“Sessional instructors are what I call the soft underbelly of higher education in Canada,” says Atkinson. “Sessionals are probably among our best teachers. And many of those folks who teach sessionally who would like to have a full-time job. They didn’t get a PhD to teach a year at a time or a course at a time, but we have no capacity to hire them.”
At many U.S. universities, he says, sessionals are 75 per cent of teaching staff, putting the tenure system at risk. Once, he says, academics governed themselves and presidents didn’t earn much more than their professor colleagues. Now, he says, there’s more and more distance between academics and professional administrators.
– Edmonton Journal, “Sunshine and shadow: Alberta university bosses take home big cheques while sessional instructors struggle”