Duquesne University Professor Dies In Abject Poverty

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

250px-Holy_Ghost_Fathers_sealMargaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor who had taught French at Duquesne University for 25 years, died of a massive heart attack at the age of 83. Adjunct professors at Duquesne make between $3000 and $3500 per semester per course. In the best of times, Margaret Mary, teaching three course, wasn’t even clearing $25,000 a year with no benefits and no job security. After Duquesne reduced her to one course, Margaret Mary couldn’t afford to pay the electricity bill and her home became uninhabitable in the winter.

Ironically, Duquesne’s president, Charles J. Dougherty, is a nationally recognized scholar and expert in health care ethics. Since Margaret Mary didn’t have health care, I guess there was no health care ethics involved. Duquesne’s president makes over $700,000 a year with full benefits.

In 2005, adjunct professors make up about 48% of the faculty at colleges and universities. Today, that number is 75% as universities cut costs by reducing the number of more expensive tenured professors. The cost savings are not passed along to students. Duquesne, a private university, has increased tuition an average of 5.4% per year between 2006 and 2010. Higher tuition and lower costs via less qualified professors, the best of both worlds, for the universities.

A majority of the 130 adjunct faculty at Duquesne decided to organize as a chapter of the United Steelworkers and submitted a petition for an election to the National Labor Relations Board. Duquesne hired a Memphis lawyer known for his counseling organizations on how to remain union free. Duquesne filed a motion that since it was a “church-operated school,” it was exempt from NLRB jurisdiction. The motion was denied.

Although Duquesne was founded by, and is sponsored by, members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, it does not depend financially on the Catholic Church, does not require its faculty members to be Catholic, and does not require its student to study Catholicism.

As universities focus on increasing their endowments through cost cutting measures like hiring more adjunct professors, they lose sight of their raison d’être, to provide a quality education for their students.

Only a small part of the U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on the percentage of faculty who are full time. Even this small part is being gamed by the universities. The University of Nebraska interpreted the U.S. News question on the percentage of full time faculty to cover only those faculty who are tenured or on a tenure track and not to cover adjunct faculty. While U.S. News has since detailed that adjuncts should be counted, the low contribution to a school’s ranking, just 5%, is obscene.

The Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice has declared that “Union busting is a mortal sin.” Georgetown University, one of two Catholic universities to make the U.S. News top 25, just recognized its adjunct professors’ union, citing the Catholic Church’s social justice teachings.

H/T: Daniel Kovalik, Austin Cline, Mark Oppenheimer, Claudio Sanchez, Scott Jaschik, Moshe Z. Marvit.

885 thoughts on “Duquesne University Professor Dies In Abject Poverty”

  1. Oh, if you read the article, you’ll notice the Republicans planned to repeal the ACA “procedurally,” at their earliest opportunity. Romney was elected, so this was it.

    Glass houses. Stones.

  2. Facebook is satan’s website. That’s a joke! Life’s too short and tenuous not to laugh sometimes.

  3. Juliet, When a law is passed PROCEDUALLY, then you are bound to have the other party sniping @ it. Let’s say Republicans pass major legislation like healthcare via reconciliation. Wouldn’t you expect Dems to do everything PROCEDURALLY possible to thwart it. Medicare passed w/ bipartisan support. It quickly was accepted, warts and all, by Americans. Obamacare remains unpopular. I think it will become more so as it is implemented. You think it will become more popular. I say, let’s let it go forward and have the chips fall as they may. It was very naïve and stupid for the Dems in Congress to think Republican guvs, given a choice, would comply w/ an unpopular law.

    1. I know that’s a fun thing for people to say in an argument about the ACA. Unfortunately, it’s untrue. Here’s an excerpt from that liberal rag, Forbes:

      “To be technically accurate, the bulk of Obamacare was not passed through reconciliation. That was Democrats’ original intent; but once Scott Brown won the special Senate election to replace Ted Kennedy, the Senate bill that passed with 60 Democratic votes in December 2009 was passed whole-hog by the House in March 2010—a highly unusual procedure—and then a few loose ends were altered via the reconciliation process.”


    2. Nick, it is unpopular when you poll mostly republicans. Funny too how when you poll many people they like the ACA they don’t like Obamacare and that is because of the failure of the president to come out and explain it well and the success of the repubs in their lies, exaggerations and distortions.
      And amazing how such an unpopular thing had so many wanting to sign up the site crashed initially.(And the millions who have already benefitted are also not saying what a terrible built this is, (I am afraid to change my insurance because I ma grandfathered fro many years with a plan that cannot be changed because it has been defunct so long. When checking out the exchanges I found that I would be paying for one year what I am now paying per month.)

      1. We’ll be paying a third of what we were paying for catastrophic coverage to get the silver plan. We are incredibly thrilled, as my husband and I have probably cost the taxpayers in excess of $100,000 in emergency room visits and surgeries over the past uninsured year.

  4. This is somewhat anecdotal, but there are a huge number of people on my Facebook friends list — rabid Tea Party Republicans — who are thrilled to death with the results of their experience with our state’s exchange.

  5. Juliet, As I said previously I think the Republicans are being stupid in trying to stop Obamacare. I think they should fully fund it and let the people see what a horribly bad law it is.

    1. And, as I’ve said previously, I’m not worried about the ACA. Like any major program, it’ll have kinks that need to be resolved — a major one being what to do about the working poor in Republican states with Republican who refused to expand Medicaid. Hopefully, it will evolve into a single payer system, over time. This is about the future of our system of government.

    1. I am breathing. I’m simply sick of a very vocal (and ignorant) minority trying to invalidate the decisions of the majority. This act sets a dangerous precedent for our country.

  6. Congress voted unanimously to pay all employees off work during this shutdown[not a typo]. That’s probably what you heard. So, for all the drama queens and kings, this is the way it always happens. Breeeeathe. This was our experience all 15 times.

    1. Although it’s awfully sweet of the Tea Party to allow a vote on paying furloughed employees for their furloughed time, what about their bills and groceries now? What about babies who need WIC for speciality formula? it is an outrage that this childish temper tantrum is holding a whole country hostage.

      Frankly, f*ck them and the morons who elected them.

    1. My bad… after re-reading the article it was just conjecture and wishful thinking. I read it too quickly. This is what was said: “President Obama could end the government shutdown by having the director of the Office of Personnel Management declare every federal employee “essential” and they would then return to work. No employee, civilian or military, will be paid until the House of Representatives passes a clean Continuing Resolution.”

      Something got in front of my eye teeth and I couldn’t see what I was saying… 😀

  7. I think Mr. Obama pulled a fast one on the Republicans today. I think I heard he re-classified all federal employees as ESSENTIAL personnel. This would force them to bring them all back and pay them too. Not sure if this is true or not. Heard it through the grape-vine.


  8. OK let me weigh in on the Washington DC shooting…. Evidently this woman was suffering from “postpartum depression” after having the baby she was transporting in the back of the car. Now a toddler. She was having delusional thinking as one of her symptoms.

    She felt Mr. Obama was “spying on her” at her dental hygienist home-business in Stamford CT. She felt he was “controlling” her life. So in her delusional mind she took the 6-7 hour drive down the Jersey Turnpike (I-95) through the Beltway (probably at rush hour too).

    Then when she arrived she was going to “address” Mr. Obama’s interference in her life. How? Dunno! When she tried to crash the gate the USSS kept moving the barricade in front of her but she kept swerving to avoid it. Then she hit one of the USSS uniformed officers and he was on her hood.

    The officer said she had a “lost and confused look on her face” (i.e. delusional look?). She then realized her situation was now well beyond “oops I screwed up” now and decided to speed off toward the Capitol Building. Why? I dunno’.

    All I know is that a whole entourage of police vehicles were now chasing her OJ Simpson/Al Cowlings style. No one decided to do the “Pit Maneuver” but some how decided to open fire on her car. No not at her tires. No nobody thought to lay out “stop-sticks”. No they just decided to open fire in a heavily-traveled public area on this African-American dental hygienist from CT.

    Where the officers a little spooked by the African-American man who just recently opened-fire at the US Navy Yard in Wash DC killing 12 victims? Maybe.

    Miraculously their aim was pretty good as the baby was never hit. She evidently got stuck on the Capitol lawn and was immobilized there. Why they continued to fire into the diver’s side window baffles me. There was no return gun fire from her. Only panicky driving of a delusional woman that non-lethals alternatives were indicated.

    This reminds me of an African man in NYC who was plugged 40 times for just raising his black wallet to NYPD to identify himself. Did DC police over-react? Ya’ think!!!


  9. I am a member of no party for the 287th time!! Just because I don’t abide YOUR PARTY line doesn’t mean I am of the other party. I think I’ve spoken of my derision for the duopoly once or twice!! Get out of that box and breeeeathe.

  10. Our family went through 15 of these shutdowns. And, most were in our youth when our resources were slim. I had just come off a year in Vista. You don’t save any money on a Vista salary! Anyone here ever been through a Fed shutdown?

  11. Those who give their hearts to everyone, dilute it. There are no unlimited resources. IF this shutdown causes hardship, then I will have empathy. I don’t have empathy for “potential” hardship. Because, we ALL face “potential” hardship w/ life being so fragile.

  12. leejcarroll,

    Some have no sympathy for people who could face serious financial problems because they miss several paychecks.

  13. Elaine the people here who poo-poo that people are getting hurt don’t care about the reality off the hurt people are experiencing. Sadly.

  14. rafflaw,

    Who cares about those people, huh? They are not important. The important people–members of Congress–are still getting their paychecks.

  15. Elaine,
    I guess people are getting hurt by this political shutdown of the government over a tantrum over lawfully passed legislation. Who would have guessed? 🙂

  16. leejcarroll,

    30 Ways the Shutdown Is Already Screwing People
    The government shutdown is bad news for children, children with illnesses, and people who care for children with mysterious illnesses. Also: unemployed goats.
    —By Tim Murphy | Wed Oct. 2, 2013

    The federal government entered shutdown mode at midnight on Monday, after Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution that would keep departments and agencies up and running. Though some Republicans have dismissed the immediate impact of the shutdown, quite a lot of people have already been affected.

    Here’s a quick guide:

    Kids with cancer: 30 children who were supposed to be admitted for cancer treatment at the National Institute of Health’s clinical center were put on hold, along with 170 adults.

    Head Start kids: When a new grant didn’t come in, Bridgeport, Connecticut, closed 13 Head Start facilities serving 1,000 kids. Calhoun County, Alabama, shut down its Head Start program, which serves 800 kids. Some were relocated to a local church.

    Pregnant women: Several states had promised to pick up the tab if the US Department of Agriculture stopped funding the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)—but not Arkansas, where 85,000 meals will no longer be provided to low income women and their children.

    Babies: 2,000 newborn babies won’t receive baby formula in Arkansas, due to those WIC cuts.

    Military suicide prevention: Palm Beach, Florida, television station WPTV profiled Rosemarie Spencer, a contractor with the US Army Suicide Prevention Program who was furloughed on Tuesday.

    Virginia: 2,000 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were sent home on Tuesday, and commissaries in northeast and southeast Virginia, which provide inexpensive groceries to members of the military, closed on Wednesday.

    Domestic-violence centers: Facilities in Vermont and Montana stopped receiving reimbursement payments.

    People who eat food: Eight thousand employees at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention were furloughed, including those tasked with monitoring the outbreak of foodborne illnesses.

    People with mysterious illnesses: The Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the National Institutes of Health has stopped accepting new patients, with the exception of children with life-threatening illnesses.

  17. In Utah, clinics had already closed their doors and stopped enrolling new participants before receiving the emergency funds from the USDA, which amount to $2.5 million, according to the Utah Department of Health. The program serves about 66,000 moms, babies, and kids in the state.

    Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/10/04/poor-families-taking-a-hit-from-government-shutdown/#ixzz2gnoYw4Ej

    The government shutdown could cost Melanie Rhodes her job.

    After nearly a year of unemployment, Rhodes finally landed a job as a school bus driver in Bridgeport, Conn. But now that the shutdown has closed her child’s preschool, she may have to give that job up.


    These are the people who are scared and worried

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