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Long-time Instructors Finally Get Benefits


The Maryland Board of Regents has approved giving traditional benefits to long-term contractual lecturers. Some lecturers at Coppin State and Frostburg State universities weren’t even getting health insurance, even though they have been teaching for more than 10 years. The Baltimore Sun reported in December that nearly 300 full-time instructors were not eligible for retirement and other benefits.

The new policy, approved Friday by the board, requires colleges to give individual health coverage to all full-time contractual lecturers. Beginning in the fall of 2008, lecturers with a decade of continuous service also will get retirement benefits comparable to regular state employees.

In the fall of 2009, those employed for at least six years will get retirement benefits.

“We feel that this policy provides very meaningful benefits to an important category of staff who are providing very significant services to our students,” says university system chancellor William Kirwan.

David Parker, president of the system’s faculty council, says the new policy is “a good start” but doesn’t go far enough.

“It doesn’t do anything meaningful,” says Parker, a math professor at Salisbury University. “It’s nice. We don’t want anyone to lose a benefit they wouldn’t otherwise receive, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue.”

Parker says the basic problem is the lack of uniformity among employment benefits at Maryland’s public colleges and universities.

Lecturers are usually hired on annual renewable contracts to teach introductory courses, instead of conducting scholarly research like professors.

There are more than 700 full-time lecturers among the university system’s eight traditional college campuses. The ones that have routinely employed full-time lecturers without full benefits are the former teachers colleges: Towson University and Coppin State in the Baltimore area, and Bowie State, Frostburg and Salisbury universities.

Those schools became part of the University of Maryland network in 1988, but they maintain a separate payroll system, which partly accounts for the difference in employment practices, officials have said.

— Associated Press


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