Will ASU Online’s Starbucks Baristas Outearn Their Professors? (Chronicle)

By Audrey Williams June

Amid the public-relations back and forth over Starbucks’s new partnership with Arizona State University’s online degree program, an online comment caught our eye:

“This is a major PR boost for ASU as well, and considering many adjuncts make less than the baristas they’ll be teaching, I doubt ASU is losing money here.” —Steve Foerster

Forgetting, for a moment, the financial big picture, is it possible that Starbucks baristas will be better paid than their instructors?

The answer, it seems, is no. That’s because some of Arizona State’s tenured and tenure-track faculty members, along with some of its full-time lecturers, make up part of the instructional staff that teaches the nearly 11,000 students enrolled in ASU Online, says Philip Regier, executive vice provost and dean of ASU Online and Extended Campus.

And, at least for the time being, working full time on a university’s faculty still puts you above the pay grade of a barista. (We asked Starbucks for information on its wages. It wouldn’t go into detail for “competitive reasons,” but Glassdoor, a website that collects user-submitted company reviews and data, says baristas earn, on average, $8.80 an hour.)

For a professor or lecturer at Arizona State, teaching at ASU Online is “just part of the faculty workload,” Mr. Regier says, adding that this arrangement differentiates the program from many others in online higher education. “We really want to give people outside the university access to the same courses, taught by the same faculty, that people on campus have,” he says.

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