Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Adjunct Law Prof Blog discussed the fact that Vice-President candidate Senator Joe Biden is also an adjunct prof at Widener Law School, available here. The August 26, 2008 web site, Roll Call, provides additional detail of his teaching career. It turns out that Biden is only guarantees he will be there 50% of the time and he team teaches with another prof who does most of the work such as grading papers. Interestingly, Biden has stated he will make at least one appearance this semester. The article also notes that Biden's adjunct salary of $20,500 is much higher than what other adjuncts make. As the article states:
Since September 1991, Biden has been an adjunct faculty member at the Widener School of Law, which has campuses in Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. Biden team-teaches a seminar called “Selected Topics in Constitutional Law” with professor Robert Hayman. The class meets Saturday mornings, and, according to Hayman, Biden guarantees that he will be present for at least half of the class time.
Biden used to teach the course alone, Hayman said, but in 2003, the Senator “went to our dean ... and told him he just didn’t have the time to teach anymore.” The two decided that “maybe a possibility to reduce the time in the classroom was by taking on a co-teacher ... so they settled on me as his co-teacher, with the understanding then that while he wouldn’t be there for the whole class, he would be there for at least half the time.”
Biden spokesman David Wade said “Sen. Biden teaches with the approval of the Senate Ethics Committee and discloses his salary in his Senate Financial Disclosure form each year.”
Hayman said that he manages the administrative duties for the class and that he reads all of the student papers and proposes grades to Biden. The Senator may then suggest changes to the grades Hayman has suggested, but Hayman said that is rare.
It is apparent that Biden is not a "real" adjunct. He is simply a paid to give a series of lectures. Profs grade classes and interact with students. I would be curious to learn about how much interaction he has with students.
Mind you, I do not believe that there is anything wrong with this arrangement and I do not see anything wrong with a sitting Senator getting paid more than other adjuncts. I just think we should be honest in calling this arrangement what it is.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein