Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.), the Democratic vice presidential pick, is the only Member of the Senate who is also being paid to be an adjunct university professor, and his pay for that job did not decline when he cut his teaching time in half five years ago.
According to Bidens 2007 financial disclosure forms, he was paid a $20,500 teaching stipend by Widener University in Chester, Pa., which would place him in the high end of the pay scale for adjunct university professors.
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 didnt 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 wouldnt 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.
I havent had the audacity to ask when he has approved my grades, Well, did you really read them? Hayman said.
The Senator remains heavily involved in designing the course syllabus and choosing topics for discussion, Hayman said, and Biden has been more active in suggesting grades for classroom participation. Bidens primary role appears to be giving lectures and leading class discussions when he is present.
The course met for the first time Saturday, as Biden was being introduced as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. Hayman said that he and Biden spoke Friday and that the Senator still hopes to participate in the class this semester, but it is unlikely they will be able to arrange more than a single class visit. Even then, given Bidens new national profile, it would be unlikely the event could be contained to a small seminar meeting on a Saturday morning. It is most likely that Biden will take a leave of absence for at least the fall semester, Hayman said.
Despite Bidens apparent reduced workload when Hayman came on board, the Senators salary from Widener did not significantly drop. In 2001, he reported being paid $19,133 by the university; in 2002, his salary rose to $21,867; and in every year since, his salary has been $20,500.
Bidens paycheck is double what Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) was paid last year for teaching a yearlong seminar at the Georgetown University Law Center.
A half-dozen House Members also are paid as adjunct faculty, but no other Senators are, and as Roll Call reported in July, some Members pay for part-time teaching gigs appears to be much higher than other adjunct professors. At the undergraduate level, adjunct faculty are usually paid anywhere in the range of $3,000 to $6,000 per course per semester, but experts in the field note that universities generally have broad leeway in adjunct faculty salaries. The pay scale is also generally higher in graduate programs and business schools.
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