Ivy Tech locations throughout the state began the process of cutting back on part-time professors' hours in response to the federal health care law.
Students who returned to class this week at Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast aren't likely to notice much of a change, but things will begin to shift soon, officials said.
The cuts apply to all Ivy Tech regions in the state and are in response to a federal law that will require employers to provide health insurance to part-time employees if they work 30 or more hours a week.
Tom Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, said in a statement that the college has already taken steps to reduce most of the faculty's credit hours.
Most part-time employees' hours have been reduced to nine credit hours – a number that Snyder believes will be low enough to meet the federal requirement.
The federal health law requirement goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
At Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast, between 65 percent and 70 percent of credit hours are taught by adjuncts, or part-time lecturers, according to last year's data.
Most part-time faculty can make about $1,500 to $4,000 teaching a course and don't usually have health insurance, according to officials.
But soon, steps will have to be taken to ensure that those part-time lecturers aren't exceeding nine credit hours of teaching a week, said Andrew Welch, executive director of marketing and communications.
Welch said the discussion about cutting hours has been communicated widely to full-time and adjunct faculty so there won't be any surprises.
"It's certainly been in the forefront of the administration's discussions," Welch said.
Welch said the college is still in the process of hiring and assigning some of their part-time employees based on student enrollment in classes that are 8-, 10- or 12-week courses rather than the traditional 16-week courses.
School officials won't know how many part-time positions will be cut this year until those positions are filled, he said.
"Knowing that we will have to respond to the needs of our students we'll have to make it happen and we may have the college paying benefits to specific employees," he said.
In the meantime, college officials are working with consultants in determining the best number of credit hours for part-time professors, so the college doesn't pay more than it can afford in benefits, Snyder said in a statement.
Although college officials would prefer a 50-50 ratio of part-time to full-time professors, Ivy Tech's ratio is closer to 60 percent part time. To meet that goal, officials have said that would require about an extra $50 million in state funding.
At the end of May, the college had 461 part-time lecturers, down 68 from the previous year.
"Ideally, we'd much rather have full-time faculty," he said.
Although IPFW has not announced a need for cuts to part-time professors' hours, it's a conversation that will happen soon, officials said.
"As far as the health care issue with the changes coming down the pike, we know that they've been postponed for a year, but we'll have people looking at that," IPFW spokeswoman Nicole Wilkins said.
IPFW has 358 part-time instructors – what they call limited-term lecturers – about 70 more than the previous year.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Because of a reporting error, a story on Page 1A Friday about part-time faculty facing the number of hours they can work incorrectly stated the current number of part-time employees at IPFW compared to the previous year. IPFW has 358 part-time instructors – what they call limited-term lecturers – about 70 fewer than the previous year.