Pay cut convinces Youngstown State professor to cancel summer class

YSU Biology Professor Dr. Chet Cooper said the significant decrease in salary was "at the point of exploitation," so he decided not to teach this summer

Chet Cooper, Youngstown State biology professor, cancels summer class over pay


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When a Youngstown State professor found out teaching a summer class would mean a significant cut in pay, he opted out and decided not to teach for the money being offered.

Dr. Chet Cooper has been a biology professor at Youngstown State for 17 years. He’s fully tenured.

He was scheduled to teach Microbiology this summer but when only eight students signed up instead of the required 15, Cooper found out his salary would be pro-rated and cut significantly.

“I felt that it was wrong for me to accept that kind of position given my expertise and my professional position at the university,” he said.

Dr. Cooper sent an email to all the students in his now canceled class:

Dear Students,

I am very sorry to inform you that Microbiology lecture and its associated laboratory section, BIOL 3702 and BIOL 3702L are being cancelled [sic]. You should soon receive an official announcement from the Department of Biological Sciences.

The course is under enrolled [sic]. There are only 8 students registered; a full course requires 15 students. That is not necessarily the problem. 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% decrease in salary. As any faculty member knows, it is as much effort to teach 8 students as it is 15. Also, 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 am under no obligation to accept a summer teaching assignment. I am sorry, but I feel strongly that I must refuse to accept the terms being offered me. I hope you understand my position.

The Chair of Biological Sciences, Dr. Gary Walker, is fully aware of this situation. He is copied on this email message. If you have further questions, feel free to contact him or me.

I wish you all the best of success in your educational endeavors.

Dr. Cooper

“It is strong, yes it is. It’s my honest opinion of my situation,” Cooper said.

He said he received an email from one student’s father, who was critical of his decision.

“I did also receive a verbal communication from two other students who fully understood why I wouldn’t teach the class, and my colleagues in my department and elsewhere in the university fully supported my position.”

Cooper said none of the eight students needed the class to graduate and if one had, a teacher would have been found. Six of the students were taking the course to fulfill a requirement at another university.

What about the idea that teachers don’t teach to get rich?

“That’s true but at the same time, I can’t afford to have myself exploited and I felt we were at the point of exploitation,” he said.

YSU Spokesman Ron Cole released a statement on Thursday:

Faculty volunteer to teach in the summer…their pay…is above and beyond what they get paid for the regular nine-month academic year…[Dr. Cooper] did not do anything wrong. He absolutely has the right to [not teach in summer].”

The union contract that YSU professors work under clearly states that teaching in the summer is voluntary.

Dr. Cooper said this was the first time he’s ever decided not to teach a class. Cole said these kind of situations are unusual.

.

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s