The chair of my department has very generously offered to try and secure funding for some of the part-time and adjunct professors working in the department as compensation for adapting our originally in-person courses to an online format (this is in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic). I currently am an adjunct only teaching one upper-division class at this institution. The catch here is that my chair has asked me and the other part-timers to throw out numbers that we feel are appropriate. I really have no intuition about what to ask for, or to simply respond (graciously) saying that I trust my chair's judgement and allow them to come up with a number for me/us. I don't want to come off as greedy and pick a number they might claim to be inappropriate, but at the same time I feel that it's rather passive to blindly let my chair pick.

For reference, I'm a fairly new hire in this department and not really clear about my future there. The chair and the other faculty are very friendly and inviting, so I'm not particularly worried about setting off any personality conflicts. Just not sure what the appropriate response is here.

  • 2
    It's up to you to decide how to value your own time. You won't get more than you ask for. Mar 24, 2020 at 23:43
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    If you don't feel comfortable giving a money amount, give them a number of worked hours.
    – Erwan
    Mar 25, 2020 at 0:47
  • Do you have an experienced colleague within the department who could help out here?
    – Mast
    Mar 25, 2020 at 10:48
  • Building on top of @Erwan's comment, if you can calculate the amount of extra worked hours, and calculating your hourly wage, you can come up with a number. However, it would much better if you give an outline of your calculation in your response email to the chair, instead of just saying the number or the extra hours.
    – Our
    Mar 25, 2020 at 13:53
  • 1
    @ZizyArcher Using personal stuff is an expense Mar 26, 2020 at 19:38

3 Answers 3


There are really two parts to the Chair's question:

  1. How much additional work have you had to do so far? What additional work do you anticipate going forward? Are there any time savings that should also go into the calculation?
  2. What is the appropriate renumeration for that work?

You should be able to estimate the answer to (1), and explain where the number comes from. You should certainly include this information in your response to the chair. Then, as in the answer by @Allure, you can propose that they pay you for the additional time at (broadly) the same rate as you usually expect to get. For example,


I estimate that I've had to spend 80 hours preparing new material, and there will be an additional 4 hours work each week going forward. However, I'm saving an hour on travelling between campuses. Assuming this continues for the next 12 weeks, we're looking at something like 120 hours additional work. I think my usual salary works out at around $30/hour.

Thanks, Mndifldz

Note that all you have done here is state facts, so there is nothing anyone can criticise you for. You leave it up to the chair to do the maths, and decide what they can afford to offer. However, you lead them towards a number that (hopefully) you think is fair.

  • 4
    I like this approach, especially by not giving a final total number.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 25, 2020 at 1:47
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    hmmm ... I would guess that the actual (implied) question of the Chair is more like: "In this unique situation of social & economic turmoil, how much money do you actually need to survice, pay your rent and food?". Answering this implied question based solely on fair compensation for hours spend, may come accross poorly, if we remember that huge parts of the population are struggling for their economic survival ...
    – s1lv3r
    Mar 25, 2020 at 10:46
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    @s1lv3r why would one base one's compensation for additional work on the problems of the poor? They are completely irrelevant here.
    – Ruslan
    Mar 25, 2020 at 11:07
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    @s1lv3r The question seems to not be "How much do you need to be paid?", but is instead "How much more work do you anticipate needing to do to convert to, and teach in, an online environment, and how much additional pay is needed to compensate you for that?". The question is about adding additional money to their compensation, not about reducing current compensation because of university "hardship", or as some sort of sign of solidarity with those who have lost income at this time. Mar 25, 2020 at 13:39
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    I think this is the right answer. Make a reasoned argument for a $ number, and explain why you arrive at it. The chair may not be able to pay that much, but it's unobjectionable and, as chair, I would also appreciate having a sense how much work is actually involved. Mar 25, 2020 at 14:21

Take however much they were paying you monthly and divide that by the hours you actually work. This gives you an hourly wage. Multiply that by however much you need to turn your courses to an online format, and quote that number.

  • Dead right - it's as simple as that. The only gotcha is the estimate, because everyone sucks at estimating. Add at least 10% to your time estimate for contingency. Or do 3-point estimates for each element, to put your overall estimate on a more sound basis.
    – Graham
    Mar 25, 2020 at 11:57

I actually am in a similar situation from time to time when an online class I was offered and set up gets canceled, usually due to enrollment issue. The compensation is usually in the neighborhood of $100. Since you're doing this from scratch and in a rush, I would ask as high as $300.

  • 2
    Are you talking about USA dollar? And are you assuming this compansation is/should be the same all over the world?
    – user111388
    Mar 25, 2020 at 20:48

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