The ceremony is expected to begin at 10 a.m. at the Shannon Center on the university's main campus at 3700 W. 103rd St. Joyner replaced the retiring Christine Wiseman as Saint Xavier's president Jan. 1.
Errol Magidson said Thursday adjunct professors have been working since 2011 to be recognized as a union by the university. The professor of psychology said 55 percent of all courses at Saint Xavier are taught by adjunct or part-time professors. But school officials disputed the figures.
"The truth is, they don't value adjuncts at all," said Magidson, who has been teaching at the school since the spring semester of 2006.
In his time at the university, Magidson said he's received just one raise — upping his pay for a three-credit course from $2,300 to $2,500. By comparison, he has been paid nearly twice as much to teach similar courses at Roosevelt University, which is unionized, he said.
Saint Xavier contested a 2011 ruling from the National Labor Relations Board that said adjuncts can unionize despite the university being a private, Catholic school. The ruling stated that the part-time professors' jobs are not inherently religious in nature, except in a few cases.
The National Labor Relations Board in Chicago upheld the ruling June 20, 2016 saying adjunct professors at Saint Xavier are entitled to collective bargaining.
The adjunct professors at Saint Xavier have aligned themselves with the Illinois Education Association, and mostly sought this union's help in securing higher wages as well as some benefits, Magidson said. Joining the adjunct professor's fight to unionize were housekeepers at the university who aligned themselves with Service Employees International Union, Local 1.
Joyner emailed the Saint Xavier Adjunct Faculty Organization July 25 maintaining the university's previous position that both the part-time professors and the housekeepers would not be recognized as unions.
The email came just as the adjunct professors sought to open collective bargaining discussions. Joyner reiterated the previously held claim that the university is not bound to recognize the unions as a result of Saint Xavier's religious affiliation.
The issue was put back in the hands of the labor relations board Sept. 13, according to legal filings.
Today is the day!— Graham School at SXU (@GrahamSchoolSXU) September 29, 2017
The inauguration of our 20th President, Laurie M. Joyner, Ph.D., will be at 10 a.m.
Hope to see you there! pic.twitter.com/QsmRkd2fCT
Joyner on Thursday said Saint Xavier is not anti-union, pointing to the union representing full-time staff which has existed on the campus since 1979. Rather, she said the university is concerned about governmental overreach.
"Our problem is government intrusion into a Catholic institution." Joyner said.
She vowed to continue fight the issue by all legal means necessary, despite the continued rulings in favor of the adjuncts. Joyner added that this strategy is not meant to stall the unionization effort but rather to allow decision to play out through the established legal process.
As for pay, Joyner said the market determines rate, and that adjunct professors seeking higher wages can always teach someplace else. She also said the student to professor ratio is about 18-to-one across both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
University officials said adjunct professors teach about a third of undergrad courses and between 40-45 percent of graduate courses. Tuition rates per credit hour vary, though Saint Xavier's website lists the cost at $680 per credit hour for part-time students.
But Joyner said most students receive some sort of financial aid that lowers tuition rates. And it's naive to think that tuition merely covers a professor's salary, as institutional costs including everything from admissions staff to electricity are paid for via tuition, she said.
"The faculty in the classroom is one small piece of what we are offering here," she said. "To suggest [tuition] is just the cost of the professor in the classroom is overly simplistic."
Meanwhile, the leadership of the unionized faculty issued a letter shortly after Labor Day in support of their part-time colleagues and housekeeping staff.
"To continue to put obstacles in their way and to continue expensive legal arguments that have already been rejected and that fly in the face of church positions is wasteful and hardly pulls us together as a community," their letter reads.
Joyner addressed the upcoming picket in an email to staff Thursday. The message said she values the role of adjunct professors play at Saint Xavier as well as the university's unique ability to be a place where students and colleagues can agree to disagree.
"The diversity of thought and expression is what makes our higher education system so respected throughout the world," Joyner said.