Professor Cancels Course Over Proposed Pay Cut

June 26, 2017

A professor of biology at Youngstown State University canceled a summer course after finding out that the university planned to prorate his salary based on low enrollment, WKBN reported. The professor, Chet Cooper, reportedly said that “it was wrong for me to accept that kind of position given my expertise and my professional position at the university.” Cooper, whose now-canceled microbiology course was to have eight students instead of the required 15, wrote in an email to those enrolled, “The issue is that I adamantly refuse to teach this course for less than full pay. Due to contractual restrictions based upon enrollment, I would have to agree to teach the course for a 43 percent decrease in salary. As any faculty member knows, it is as much effort to teach eight students as it is 15.”

Moreover, he wrote, “by accepting this egregious decrease in pay, I would be tacitly agreeing that either my expertise is worth less in the summer or that I am overpaid during the fall and spring semesters. Either assumption is an overt insult. … I hope you understand my position.”

Ron Cole, university spokesperson, said in a statement that professors “volunteer to teach in the summer” and their pay “is above and beyond what they get paid for the regular nine-month academic year.” At the same time, he said, Cooper “did not do anything wrong. He absolutely has the right” not to teach in summer. Cole called such situations “unusual,” according to WKBN. No student reportedly needed the course to graduate.

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