Adjunct No Longer, Jill Biden Earned $82,022 as a Community-College Professor in 2011

April 16, 2012

Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a longtime English professor, earned $82,022 in 2011 for teaching at Northern Virginia Community College. Her salary information came from the couple's most recent tax return.

Ms. Biden began teaching English at the college in the spring of 2009 as an adjunct faculty member. In the fall of 2009, Ms. Biden was hired to fill a full-time faculty position that had a two-year appointment, and then she became a full-time associate professor in the fall of 2011, said George Gabriel, vice president of the college's Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment. Mr. Gabriel said the college followed the normal search process, which included Ms. Biden having to apply for both full-time positions.

Ms. Biden's salary triggered disbelief among some members of a popular e-mail list for adjuncts who were unaware of her full-time status. Since Ms. Biden's husband became vice president, several part-time faculty organizations and unions have reached out to her in hopes that she would push for improvements in adjunct working conditions. Adjunct professors rarely receive health benefits and sometimes earn $1,000 or less per three-credit course, according to data collected by the Adjunct Project, a crowdsourcing effort to document these professors' working conditions. The pay and benefits adjuncts have reported vary widely, with many listings showing pay per three-credit course in the $2,000 to $5,000 range. At the high end, a few reported pay of close to $10,000.

Still, Ms. Biden, whose college-level teaching experience includes 15 years at Delaware Technical Community College, is well-paid by Northern Virginia standards. The average pay for associate professors at the college is $67,100, according to the most-recent faculty salary survey conducted by the American Association of University Professors.

Ms. Biden teaches three developmental English classes in the fall and spring semesters: two sections of Preparing for College Writing II and one section of "Critical Reading and Study Skills." The classes meet twice a week.

Mr. Gabriel said Ms. Biden has office hours, goes to meetings, and serves on committees, among other things, in addition to teaching: "She does the things that regular faculty members do."