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. (re the shooting of Carey. I thght the police acted appropriately, they did not know if she was armed, or had an assault weapon at her disposal however I had not seen a report until today that she had exited the car. If that is the case the police were absolutely in the wrong. )

  2. I did try and visit the Wi. exchange, it crashed. Great IT people. The govt. gets IT people not worthy of the private sector.

  3. Juliet, If you read the piece you’ll see the guy who had to pony up 10k is an Obama supporter. The exchanges are different in all states!! Looks like you’re a winner. There are winners and losers. This poor guy lost as did his family. Maybe the Obamacare motto is biblical, “And, the first shall be last, the last first.”

  4. I read a piece in the San Jose Mercury. It was the tale of two people. One was pleased, w/ better coverage and just a slight increase in premiums. The other was a family of 4 that had premiums GO UP 10K!!! IT IS A HORSESHIT BILL. They’re are some winners, but there are many more losers. Hopefully it’s not going to be, “I got mine, tough titty for you if you aren’t a chosen one.” That’s what it is looking like to me. Obama has spent 4 years trying to sell this. He has spent millions of my tax money trying to sell it to me. You can’t sell shit.

    1. Someone’s lying. The numbers don’t add up, which you’d know if you had bothered to check out the exchange for yourself.

  5. Nick, That’s what I meant it was his failure. He gave us more credit then evidently we deserved thinking he did not have to spell out the benefits of the ACA. He had the pulpit and did not use it as he should have.
    ((*_*)) (But it’s a whole heck of a lot more then Juliet and I)
    This form, gasp< Fox news. "Republicans know what polls show — that most Americans don’t know what’s in ObamaCare, but when told what the law actually includes, a strong majority support the law." http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/30/five-reasons-americans-already-love-obamacare-plus-one-reason-why-theyre-gonna/

  6. leej, leej, leej, GALLUP has most Americans opposed. The prez has the bully pulpit, a HUGE advantage. You can’t sell horseshit to people w/ a brain. And, I truly am happy for you and Juliet if you’re happy w/ this. If nothing else, I hope you both know that. Anyone who suffers from chronic pain or has sick kids, has a place in my heart. Albeit my cold, black, heart!!!

  7. I was thinking about writing a sequel to JFK’s “Profiles in Courage.”
    The working title will be, “Profiles in Courage: The 112th Congress.”

    Ummm….never mind.

  8. I don’t have any personal information there. I grew up in rural Kentucky. Grew up and joined the Army. Came home and finished
    bachelor of science degrees in sociology and psychology. Attended law school for a year, but didn’t have the time or energy to finish, due to caring for my severely autistic son. I’ve been very poor — we had an outhouse when I was a kid. I’ve been quite prosperous — Lexus sports car, housekeeper, personal trainer, nanny for my son. I have friends from all walks of life, and a variety of pretty disparate life experiences. I’m a Christian (of the hippie, love everybody like Jesus variety, wife, mother and political junkie.

  9. I’d love a back-story bio. But if it’s too (ya’-know) I’ll understand. I think I already know a lot already but I would like some verification to feed my confirmation-bias-syndrome… 🙂

  10. @nick spinelli – “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. Tell that to a cardiac attack patient in 6 months of recovery.

    1960’s Grease Monkey’s will appreciate this non-PC photo I think:
    Warning: Don’t click that link if you are easily offended by non-PC things… 😉

    @Juliet N. – In my world (and maybe Blouise’s too) you would be deemed the coolest chick in the room (and beyond). You make Jennifer Garner look like a Grease Monkey (sans the grease). Why the accolades? I dunno’ you fascinate me with your apparent acumen and style of prose. Yes Nick would say I’m probably “schmoozing” you but unlike Mike S.’s definition of the same word I don’t want anything from you. I’m just a mental-acuity-phile.

    “Oh know he’s about to go into his Christopher Langan man-crush routine again folks!” – no guys I promise not this time. However, I will think about putting Juliet on my mantel next to Marilyn vos Savant. I can’t help it I really dig “smart people”. I guess that’s why I “meander like a river” through JT world… huh? 😀


  11. If we’re going to talk about our formative years, I’ll be brief. I grew up in a blue collar, ethnic neighborhood. Most of friends were greasers. I can’t use a screwdriver and they knew it. But, I liked riding in FAST cars[Road Runners, GTO’s, etc.]. The greasers accepted me. I was an athlete, so I hung out w/ jocks also. I was never totally accepted by them because of my greaser ties but more so because I hung w/ the artsy types. I didn’t care about art, but I LOVE flicks. This was the 60’s so my artsy friends[some were sissified!]and I had to go to New Haven, Hartford, NYC to see foreign and indy films. They introduced me to weed. This group was also guarded, but their acceptance grew over time. I have never been a member of any one group. When people try and put me into one group, party, clique, I fight it emphatically because they’re absolutely wrong.

  12. And, as I’ve said here SEVERAL TIMES. I think what the Rep. are doing is stupid. I acknowledge It is law, a really bad one. That’s why Congress should fund it and let it fail. Damn!! Take some notes.

  13. Juliet, You do realize virtually NO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS read the final bill, don’t you? I’m not a Fox News person for chrissake. You have become the person you say you dislike. I’m not in a Dem/Rep liberal/conservative box. Any honest assessment of my views expressed here prove that. You’re becoming part of the “cool club.” They’ll steal your soul, woman. Read some Nietzche about the comfort of “the pack.” I despise “the pack.”

    1. When I was a kid, I would often come home from schools in tears. My mother would ask me why I was upset, and I’d respond, “The cool kids don’t like me.” My mother would say it was because they were jealous of me. But really, I was just an obnoxious, know-it-all twat.

      There are two lessons to be learned from this story: (1) I really do know a lot about a lot; and (2) sometimes the cool kids don’t like you because you’re kind of a jerk.

  14. Bron, And that causes resentment from the essential employees who had to work to get paid. My wife was essential, support staff were not. So, the essential had to also do support staff work, along w/ their regular jobs, and then see nonworkers get paid.

    “Good enough for government work.”

  15. Juliet, If you’re fine, and you apparently are, the way Obamacare was passed, w/o anyone reading it, LARGELY by reconciliation, then fine. I’m not. Most people are not, supported by polls. Obama is down to 41% approval. He cannot sell this used car because it’s a lemon. We simply disagree, no biggy.

    1. If your representation didn’t read it, that’s their fault. The opportunity was there for everyone to read it. And if people reelected people who admitted not reading, that’s their fault.

      You do better when you use your own talking points, instead of those from Fox News. It’s law. It passed. It’s constitutional. And the lunatics are running he asylum over it.

  16. these people arent even going to be financially impacted:


    “House Republicans passed a bill Saturday to guarantee all federal employees get paid after the government shutdown — including those who have been sent home and aren’t on the job.”

    So they basically get a vacation with pay. To bad the rest of us dont have that happen when we get laid off due to bad financial decisions in Washington.

  17. how many people have been hurt by the policies of government? By policies developed by some of the people who may be furloughed. If you work for government, in most cases you never get fired or lose your job in a downturn. And you have good benefits and health care, all paid for by people who work in the private sector.

    Why are government workers any more special than the people who pay for their salaries and benefits? Who cares if a few thousand are out for a few days or weeks, they can claim unemployment and take a few days off. They will get their jobs back.

    The only sad part to all of this is that the admin people and not the senior executives are the ones to be laid off.

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