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How The University Works » faculty couples http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress Mon, 21 Nov 2011 00:40:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.15 What UC-Davis Pays for Top Talent http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/301 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/301#comments Sun, 20 Nov 2011 04:20:11 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/301 Lt John Pike pepper-sprays peaceful sit-in.By now, you’ve seen the video of UC-Davis police lieutenant John Pike pepper-spraying a peaceful sit-in. You’ve seen his strutting little-man-in-a-big-body sadism, giving his beefy little canister a nonchalant waggle before strolling down the line of nonviolent protesters, aiming the toxic stream into their faces from a few feet away. You might even have signed the petition urging the resignation of the thugs who authorized this performance. Now, courtesy of the always trenchant Vijay Prashad, you can learn what California taxpayers pay for this level of police professionalism: $110,000 a year. Yep. You heard me. Nearly twice what they pay a new assistant professor in the humanities, and three times what they pay many full-time nontenurable lecturers.

Since the Chronicle is a family paper, I’m biting my tongue so hard it’s bleeding but, honestly, only profanity really does this justice.

Look, people. I’ve been observing for years that RETIREMENT PAY for cops and military officers is commonly higher than the SALARIES paid to tenured liberal arts faculty:

I once shocked a colleague by responding to one of those newspaper stories about a prof “caught” mowing his lawn on a Wednesday afternoon by saying that many tenured faculty were morally entitled to think of their salaries after tenure as something similar to a pension. After all, in some fields, many folks will not receive tenure until they’ve been working for low wages for twenty years or more: a dozen years to get the degree, another three to four years serving contingently—and then, finally, a “probationary” appointment lasting seven years at wages commonly lower than those of a similarly-experienced bartender.

In the humanities, the journey to tenure is often a quarter of a century and rarely less than fifteen years: if you didn’t go to a top-five or top-ten graduate school in your field, you probably taught several classes a year as a graduate student, usually while researching, publishing, and doing substantial service to the profession—writing book reviews, supervising other faculty and students, serving on committees, etc. Call it, charitably, a mean of twenty years in some fields. Averaging the probationary years, contingent/post-doc years, and graduate student years together, you get an average annual take in contemporary dollars of $25,000 or less. The low wage is only the beginning of the story. There’s the structural racism of the wealth gap, to which I’ll return, and the heartbreak and structural sexism for families trying to negotiate childrearing during that brutal two decades. In most fields, most of those who begin doctoral study with the intention of an academic career fall away long before grasping the brass ring.

From We Work, appearing in Heather Steffen & Jeffrey J. Williams, Something to Declare: A Collection of Critical Credos, Columbia University Press, forthcoming.

Previous coverage:
Campus Occupations Intensify
Occupying the Catholic Church
Teach-in at Washington Square
Crackdown at OccupyBoston
Why I Occupy
All the News Fit For Bankers

Bankers Chuckle (Must-See Footage of the Week)
Occupiers Issue First Statement (And it’s Bigger News than Radiohead Rumor)
Mass Arrests on Wall Street
Protests Spread to Both Coasts
Police Violence Escalates: Day 5
Wall Street Occupation, Day 3
What Are You Doing for the Next 2 Months?
Occupy and Escalate
Big Brother on Campus
California Is Burning
Will Occupation Become a Movement?
Grad Students Spearhead Wisconsin Capitol Occupation
The Occupation Will Be Televised
The Occupation Cookbook

More Drivel from the NYT
Citizens Smarter than NYT and Washington Post, Again
Education Policy Summit or Puppet Show?
Parents and Teachers, the Alienated Democratic Base
Dianetics For Higher Ed?

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Giggling at Stereotypes http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/290 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/290#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 13:57:55 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/290 When we added humorous chapter books (eg Roscoe Riley) to my three-year-old’s story time, we were appalled to find that one of them featured one of the cruder and, we thought, outmoded Asian stereotypes–the New Kid from the Black Lagoon, it turns out, is not the scary blue-skinned alien from Mars that the other kids imagined, but simply Xu Ping, whose family has flown all the way from Beijing to start–you guessed it, a Chinese restaurant. How reassuring.

When planning her own recent humorous chapter book, Brainstorm colleague Naomi Schaefer Riley (no relation to Roscoe) apparently didn’t get the memo that the “lazy professor” stereotype has been consigned to the cultural dustbin since, roughly, her own graduation from kindergarten. As you might surmise from the title (The Faculty Lounges–har har–And Other Reasons You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For), the book relies on silly, outmoded stereotypes, arguments from anecdote and bluster from the likes of John Silber instead of evidence.

At one time or another in what too often reads like an audition for Fox News higher education attack dog analyst, Riley deals every bromide in the deck, usually from the bottom: while accepting conservative foundation support for her own propaganda, she goes far out of her way to caricature Ford Foundation grants in support of academic freedom as a”gravy train” for left academics (would that it were so!)

Just like the beginning chapter books my son favors, Riley’s book features one cartoon illustration per chapter, usually reprinted from stock cartoon banks. None of them have anything to do with the issues; they just underscore the irrelevance of her stereotypes (“Your wife hasn’t broken the law, professor–she can leave you even if you do have tenure!”) Ha, ha, chuckle, zzzzzz.

That’s too bad, because Riley is bright and analytical, and sometimes grasps real problems with the tenure system, which is more than I can say of many contemporary observers on my own side of the political aisle.

She’s right, for instance, to note that the tenure system as we know it today is deeply flawed:

Supposed to produce courage and security, it breeds cowardice and anxiety, check. Supposed to unite the faculty, it now serves as a marker of apartheid between the academy’s minority “haves” and majority “have-nots,”check.

Supposed to encompass peer accountability for all professional activities it too often rewards those who neglect their students, family, and the profession, check.

Supposedly the pipeline for equality in the professions, the tenure system funnels academic and professional women into subordinate positions, check.

Supposed to guarantee reasonable economic return on education (you know, so that English professors can expect lifetime earnings not too much lower than good legal secretaries), tenure has become a generational lifeboat for greybeards selfishly uninterested in the crisis of young faculty, check.

All of these concerns, which plenty of tenure’s defenders are all too happy to gloss over, add up to an argument against tenure from the labor front.

Contingent-faculty activists like Joe Berry have long observed that tenure is reserved for a shrinking labor aristocracy–the group of persons who do front-line supervision of transient labor, and who provide the talent pool for upper administration. From the perspective of actual, informed unionists like Berry, tenure has frequently served as an engine of inequality.

Nor is it generally the goal of contingent-faculty unionists to win entrance into the stressful, irrational tenure crapshoot which is far from the gold standard of job security that most faculty imagine (ask anyone who’s had a department restructured or eliminated, or had an administrator declare a fake fiscal crisis).

Therefore, many contingent faculty, and left-labor faculty of any appointment type, share Riley’s sense that tenure should be abolished. (Either that, or like me and the AAUP, they feel that a reformed, teaching-centric tenure system should be the norm of faculty experience, as it was in 1972, when the professoriate was largely populated by well-off white men.)

Riley’s at her best and most revealing when she talks about how the tenured (like her father) treat contingent faculty, like her mother. At times the book is honestly reported–Riley admits that tenure isn’t the reason college is expensive–quite the contrary, it saves on salary–and that tenure is a minority experience.

I think if Riley’s analysis had taken the form of a long essay on the extremely important theme of how the tenure system marginalizes women teaching faculty, a topic scandalously under-addressed by liberals and academic feminists alike, it almost could have been one of those occasional offerings from the right that joins with the left in challenging some of the sacred cows of the liberal mainstream. (See chapter 4, “The Academic Underclass,” which appropriately excoriates “the hypocrisy of academics who claim concern for society’s marginalized while ignoring the [gendered and racialized] underclass in their midst.”)

If you subtract the ideological claptrap from Riley’s book, you have a perfectly reasonable call to invest in undergraduate teaching. However, in adding enough vitriol and borrowed observations to make a book, Riley goes awry in two basic ways, the scary and the lame.

Under the heading of scary, I have to point out that every once in a while, Riley’s mask of reasonability slips. In chapter 2, she wonders aloud, a la David Horowitz, Don’t some radical faculty members deserve to be run off campus?

A little later we learn the identities of the radicals to be run off, when she channels the radio talk shows for this sweeping non sequitur: “Whether it’s women’s studies or black studies or queer studies, the entire premise of the discipline often rests on a political agenda…. there [is] a growing sense that projects that are not strictly academic are not deserving of academic protections.”

The scary part is that we and her actual target audience know what she’s saying even though she isn’t saying anything–what is the meaning of the nonsense phrase “the entire premise of the discipline”? This is all too much like Limbaugh, rolling empty longish words off the tongue in order to manufacture a sense of cogitation and portent.

Under the heading of lame, I have to place the one argument she really makes with any vigor, that so much of higher education is “vocational” that there’s no controversy in those fields, hence no need for academic freedom. “These are all fields with fairly definitive answers,” Riley says in total ignorance of the fields she cites–like nutrition, family sciences, security, and sports history. “Faculty members don’t really need the freedom to ask controversial questions in discussing them,” she says, with unearned confidence.

It’s hard to believe that someone with two academic parents made this argument or, having made it, kept it in the manuscript–as its great gotcha! centerpiece, no less. When Gary Rhoades pointed out to Riley that nutrition faculty, just for example, engaged in plenty of controversy, she amateurishly dismisses the point rather than checking to see whether, in fact, there aren’t some fairly intense controversies in the field. Hint: there are, as in every one of the other fields she names.

But what of the obviously roiling controversies in other “vocational” fields, like legal, business, and medical education? Riley has nothing to say.

Riley is similarly cavalier with the evidence regarding faculty and teaching. There are literally thousands of studies evaluating faculty teaching, but instead of addressing any of them, Riley uses a few administrators as quote farms in support of her preconceived thesis and dials up the Limbaugh: “Tenure means they can simply neglect their students!”

At other points the just-published work is already out of date, touting the Garcetti decision, which has been successfully challenged, or Stanley Fish’s positions since recanted.

Frequently it’s just juvenile, as with the cartoons or snarkily describing the academy as a “profession” only in skeptical quotation marks.

Sometimes it’s just inept, as when she relies on John Silber’s “analysis” of tenure to make her case that it isn’t necessary to protect academic freedom–when, notoriously, it was only tenure that protected the late, beloved and irreplaceable Howard Zinn from Silber’s relentless efforts to drive him from the campus.

Much of the rest is cribbed from usual suspects like ACTA and Richard Vedder, or retread David Horowitz–Oh my gosh, the Berkeley writing classes sometimes cover controversial content!

A couple of points under the heading of full disclosure: Riley interviewed me for this book, and I make several appearances in the one chapter I thought worthy of her talents. She treats me as far less of a caricature than she might have, and I wish I had kinder things to say about the project.

Additionally, my spouse and I are, like Riley’s parents, and as many as a third of all faculty, navigating the often-breathtaking challenges of a dual-career academic couple in a system that is particularly cruel to academic women.

I share Riley’s disquiet with academic hypocrisy. On top of still rampant sexism and sex discrimination in academic employment, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like the viciousness with which many academic “feminists” with tenure treat some of their “sisters” off-track.

As I read Riley’s book–which I had to buy because her publisher declined to send me a review copy–I thought often of my son, and his sunny disposition. I hope that we can find a way to insulate his good nature and deeply, deeply inquiring mind from the academic shabbiness, hypocrisy and dishonesty that Riley chronicles best from her personal experience.

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America’s Least Dangerous Professors http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/184 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/184#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2009 23:29:23 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/184 At the annual convention of the Modern Language Association last month, David Horowitz once more shared a panel with AAUP President Cary Nelson, who has previously replied to Horowitz’s exaggerated claims of bias in the classroom. As Chronicle Review editor Liz McMillen’s coverage pointed out, there wasn’t much actual debate in this over-hyped appearance, which featured almost as many security guards as audience members.

The real draw was the more timely panel featuring Stanley Fish debating critics of his notion that faculty should shut up and “do their jobs.” (Staging a meeting between Horowitz and an articulate critic has been done before.)

As many others have pointed out, where students have been given the chance to protest grades based on faculty political bias, they rarely do so. The few complaints made are even more rarely upheld, and are just as likely to be claims of right-wing bias.

In my view, Horowitz is manufacturing a problem in order to push a real agenda: ie, by making exaggerated and often simply ridiculous claims about left-wing bias in classroom instruction and the “danger” that faculty political beliefs represent to student learning, he wishes to sweepingly institute affirmative action for right-wing scholars in hiring, and employ “intellectual diversity” as a wedge to force conservative ideas onto curricula.

The author of The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win, Horowitz has openly identified himself as a partisan political operative, receives substantial right-wing foundation funding, but wishes to represent himself as casually thrown up by a grassroots student movement.

On the other hand, faculty and graduate students are finding that their academic freedom is under actual, sustained and intensifying assault.

This is most obvious among the faculty serving nontenurably, now the overwhelming majority of college faculty. Not counting graduate students, or factoring for widespread administrative under-reporting, in 2005 at least 70% of all U.S. faculty served on nontenurable appointments.

Nontenurabililty is the norm of academic employment; therefore it is now simply normal for college faculty to enjoy little to no protection of their academic freedoms, as Cary Nelson makes clear in one of the more popular videos in our series. The precariousness of their employment means that most can be retaliated against for almost any speech or action, without the administration engaging in due process (or even giving a reason) by the simple expedient of non-reappointment.

As reported in this month’s Academe, in one particularly egregious case investigated by AAUP’s Committee A, a North Idaho faculty member serving contingently was retaliated against by an administration that had a beef with her tenured spouse.

The report concludes:

The case of Jessica Bryan exemplifies the plight of many contingent faculty members: vulnerable and insecure no matter how long and how well they might have served their institution. An experienced, highly regarded parttime English instructor with thirteen uninterrupted semesters of teaching at North Idaho College, Ms. Bryan was informed by e-mail on the last day of the fall 2007 semester that the administration would not offer her any courses to teach in the spring (or any time thereafter, it would appear) despite the fact that other part-time instructors junior to her in years of service were being assigned courses she had taught for more than six years and the administration engaged new instructors to teach some of those courses in fall 2008. When she asked for a substantive explanation for its decision not to reappoint her, the administration, through college counsel, declined to do so. When she requested an opportunity for faculty review of her claim that inadequate consideration had been given to her qualifications and that the decision resulted in significant measure from impermissible considerations, the administration, again through college counsel, told her that the contract governing her temporary appointment afforded her no such rights.

So far from the intellectual “threats” and “dangers” that Horowitz imagines, most faculty are in fact reticent and easily intimidated, living perpetually “30 seconds from humiliation,” just as Anonymous describes.

The report goes on to suggest the “chilling effect” that the absence of protections has on the contingent faculty majority. They might well have added to that the chilling effect that the ability to do this to one’s spouse or partner has on many of the tenured–some estimates calculate that at least a third of all faculty partners are other faculty.

Dangerous? One can only wish that every campus had a handful of faculty who were half the threat that Horowitz imagines.

Coming attractions: new video featuring Paul Lauter and Gary Rhoades, among many others….

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Blunders in the MLA Staffing Report http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/175 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/175#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2008 04:54:19 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/175 Part 1: Overview & Key Facts
Part 2: Kudos for Recommendations
Part 3: Complaints and concerns
Part 4: Interview with Paul Lauter

There are some problems with MLA’s representation of the needs and circumstances of the nontenurable faculty. If you want to know how they really live and think, watch Linda Janakos’s documentary, Teachers on Wheels. Really, watch it: she’s a much better filmmaker than I’ll ever be.

All reports of this kind are a compromise, and not all compromises are successful. The authors of this report are frank about being divided on the issue of nontenurable faculty between the meliorative, pragmatic and sometimes apologist position long represented by committee chair David Bartholomae and the view, long represented by committee member Paul Lauter, that a permanently nontenurable faculty is “an illegitimate exercise of institutional authority.”

The effective compromise between these positions is the committee’s endorsement of rights and privileges for the nontenurable that are as similar as possible to those of the tenured. (Elsewhere, I’ve written about this kind of compromise under the heading of “the intricate evasions of as.”)

I don’t think this tension would have been magically resolved by having nontenurable faculty on the committee—I co-chair AAUP’s committee on faculty serving contingently, and can say that most welcome just about any melioration of their condition, but not the patronizing apologetics that usually accompany the fairly pervasive intrusions on their academic freedom, sense of professional belonging, personal dignity, workplace rights, and economic security—often by tenure-stream faculty serving as their immediate supervisors, union reps, and department chairs.

But I do think representation on this kind of committee should map closely onto the profession—with graduate students, faculty serving contingently, and tenured faculty with a track record on the issues in reasonable proportion. (On the AAUP committee, I’m the only tenured member, and serve as co-chair over my own repeated objection.) Many of the facts and lived realities that caught the MLA staff and some of its committee members by surprise are decades-old news to the majority of college faculty.

For me, the single most troubling line of apologetic pursued by the report is its discussion of the “freeway flyer” stereotype of faculty serving contingently.

Who’s not a Freeway Flier?

On page 13, the committee suggests that freeway fliers are only those persons who report a household income of less than $25,000, calculating by this arbitrary and whimsical standard that the group comprises less than twenty percent of all those serving contingently. By contrast, the authors note,

as we know from anecdote and experience, some part-time non-tenure track faculty members are also spouses or partners tenured and tenure-track faculty members; others have full-time jobs elsewhere, or want to maintain contact with the university but prefer not to be subjected to the conditions—especially the publication requirements—of a tenure-track appointment.

Hm. Really not good. Is the report saying that someone teaching on multiple campuses and unable to get degree-appropriate tenure-track work isn’t a “freeway flier” or distressed member of the academic community because they are either a) spouses or partners of tenure-track faculty members or b) married to someone else with a decent income? Isn’t it a problem for this largely female workforce regardless of their marital or cohabitation choices? Given the gendered division of labor here, isn’t this veering into sexism?

Few faculty serving contingently would support this definition, which arbitrarily excludes most freeway flyers from their own lived experience and self-definition and imposes the skeptical ignorance of the dominant gaze. Kinda like: “Well, gee, you don’t look gay.”

What’s the big deal? Well, it both excludes and diminishes the experience of Anonymous, who has lived her career, as she says, “thirty seconds from humiliation,” has a spouse with a decent income, but nonetheless works in the field for which she trained because she needs the money. What about Monica Jacobe, who has been an adjunct on multiple campuses for the better part of a decade and has never made $30,000 in a year? Because they are married to men with doctorates earning more than $50,000 and less than $100,000, the household income of both women is in the upper 20 or 25% of all part-time faculty in English: woo-hoo! Nothing to look at here, folks. These ladies are rolling in it.

It’s hard to understand the point of this particular observation except as apologism or an inept swipe at the Cary Nelson crowd. It’s not as bad as those agitators and malcontents are saying. The adjuncts I know always seem pretty happy when they come to dinner with their spouse. Why, if you look at the numbers, lots of these adjuncts are happy and doing pretty well–some of them are married to millionaires!

A better way to get at this issue would be to track the role of gender, and the role of restructured academic employment in how individuals got into these positions. Instead of implying that everything’s peachy if you’re married to a professor (just ask Melanie Hubbard or the blogger Adjunct Whore), and hinting that they don’t really want to publish, why not ask faculty serving contingently if they’re doing so involuntarily because their spouse’s employer doesn’t have a rational spousal hiring policy? Or because the employer doesn’t make reasonable accommodations for childrearing?

Even the discussion of those who “prefer” part-time employment is problematic. It’s not as if preferring part-time employment means that the individual endorses the conditions under which they serve.

Why not ask if the person would prefer secure “fractional employment” over freeway flying?

Why not ask faculty with children if they’d prefer to be able to move from part-time fractional (and teaching intensive) employment to full-time and/or research-intensive at other points in their careers? That would be actual flexibility, by the way, not the cheap administrator tyranny we have at present.

There are other complaints and cavils to make. The report addresses gender, however imperfectly, but not class and race, or the intersection of class and race in the “wealth gap.”

The committee takes the step of recommending a set ratio of full-time and tenured to part-time faculty to graduate students, but doesn’t explain how it got to the different percentages, or justifying those percentages in the context of other recommendations.

Even as it recommends more tenure in the “lower division,” the report privileges the “upper division,” as if it is necessarily worse to have adjuncts in the upper division. Perhaps the resources of full-time tenure-track faculty are best deployed in the “lower” division—as some recent research suggests.

The report talks about graduate employees as instructors of record but bypasses the issue of their workload, their prospects in the profession and—again–the role of class and the ethnic/racial wealth gap in relentlessly influencing who is eligible to make the economically irrational “choice” to even think about the undergraduate major and the graduate education that fifteen years or more down the road will allow them to join the professoriate.

MLA staff need to much more comprehensively engage the scholarship of higher education employment, and should make a much larger effort to bring the majority faculty serving contingently into active membership and leadership.

In general, this report is a very welcome contribution and significant departure from some of MLA’s bad old ways in the bad old days. Many faculty serving contingently will nonetheless feel that some of its compromise moments represent mis-steps.

These mostly have to do with the managerial orientation of the committee’s chair and–column for another time–the administrative bias in the organization of MLA itself, which caters to department chairs in the ADE/ADFL arrangement, and as a result has steadily privileged the dilemma of the person who “doesn’t have enough resources to staff the department’s offerings” over the situation of the person being pushed into one of the scheduler’s McJobs.

I’ll be saying more about this report in my two appearances at MLA, as will Paul Lauter, one of the committee’s authors. (Which, together with our interview, will be an opportunity to correct any errors on my part!) I’d be glad to see you there.

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Downwardly Mobile! http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/138 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/138#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2008 12:48:09 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/138 Part 1 of an interview with Melanie Hubbard, a Columbia Ph.D. with articles, an NEH fellowship, and a book contract who has never been interviewed for a tenure-track job while serving on full-time contingent appointments for 10 years.

MB. How would you describe your situation?

MH. Downwardly mobile! I was a teaching assistant at an Ivy League school. I taught my dissertation at a proto-Ivy school. Then I taught the gamut of English courses at a second-tier school. I taught four years of composition at a tuition-driven third-tier private institution. Now I’m unemployed.

MB. As many as one-third of faculty have faculty partners. Did your decision to live with your husband and children affect your ability to find employment or get interviews?

MH. Interviews? Are you kidding? I’ve never had an interview… When the MLA Profession 2007 reports that there isn’t a lost generation of scholars, I have to say I am one. There is a lost generation of scholars. Here we all are. I’m not working. I’m depending on the kindness of my husband.

Read more: Job Market Theory (pdf, pp 15-20) and The Waste Product of Graduate Education (pdf, pp21-27).

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(mailbag) Contingent Faculty Issues, Partner Hiring http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/64 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/64#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2008 17:07:02 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/64 In today’s mailbag, Miriam at The Little Professor has a nice reading of HTUW, and raises a couple of good questions in relation to the book. She wants to learn more about the way affect or “teaching for love” helps drive exploitation and wants to know what could happen to contingent faculty if contingent work is converted to tenurable positions. Also correspondent AMV wants to know whether spousal hiring policies are an authentic demand of the nontenurable, or simply a perk of the privileged.

Regarding teaching for love, folks that want to learn more about the way that affect benefits employers should read things like Andrew Ross’s “The Mental Labor Problem” and Dana Fisher’s Activism Inc, which shows the horrendous permatemping of undergraduates working for causes.

Regarding the theoretical bogey of displacing some of the majority contingent faculty by increasing tenure-track employment, Miriam asks this reasonable question, “what will happen to MA and ABD faculty if colleges are successfully persuaded to restore tenure-track percentages to earlier levels. Who is going to have a better job?”

This point about contingent faculty is a thorny one. Like most contingent faculty issues, there’s no consensus on it even among contingent faculty leadership. This is not surprising, since contingent faculty _are_ the faculty–including grad students, they could be 80% of the total. Increasingly “tenure stream” means “administrator candidate pool.”

The thing is: contingent faculty turnover is 30% a year. No real-world plan to restore tenure-stream lines would really be displacing these folks.

Additionally, no responsible plan to restore tenure-stream lines would permit it. Folks working at the institution can be tenured as part of the process.

There are lots of ways of thinking about this. First, individuals that have been on the faculty contingently with primarily teaching responsibility can be tenured on the basis of teaching if that works for the individual and the institution: tenurability has not historically, is not now, and does not in the future need to be equated with research scholars only.

Second, for the many who are en route to PhDs and are/would be research scholars, there’s plenty of precedent and opportunity to provide paths for conversion.

Lots more to talk about–including the fact that “tenure,” as we think of it, is a lousy form of job security. It’s too arduous, too arbitrary, relatively insecure, and vulnerable to demagoguery and institutional policy manipulation (ask scholars of German and Italian literature how tenure helped them when their departments were abolished!)

The tenure enjoyed by police officers and kindergarten teachers is generally superior. More on this point (contrary to propaganda, tenure is a lousy form of job security) in a couple of weeks.

Finally in the mailbag, in response to Adjunct Whore’s successful bid for conversion to the tenure stream after a policy change by her employer, AMV returns to the point of partner hiring, which we’ve discussed before. AMV asks whether spousal hiring policies are fair in “a grossly competitive job market,” and then asks whether it is a white and heterosexual privilege. I’ve already answered the latter question: spousal hiring policies should be extended to partner hiring, and AMV is right to suggest that the language should be modified (which I do in my own practice–in the book introduction, for instance, I thank my spouse as “my partner”).

And I’ve already given the big picture answer: the point is not to fall into the trap of “there’s one pie, folks; fight amongst yourselves for a piece.” The point is to bake more pies.

There are two further answers worth quickly noting here. First, most folks who’ve studied the question, such as the Council of Women Historians at the AHA, have concluded that partner hiring policies are a feminist demand. Increasing numbers of men concur.

Second, it’s important to distinguish the demand for a partner hiring policy from current partner hiring practices, most of which are ad hoc. In the absence of a policy to generate fairness, partner hiring benefits star faculty, coaches, and administrators. The absence of a policy generates potential for bias of all kinds, including gender and sexuality bias.

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Adjunct Whore is No More http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/61 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/61#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2008 02:54:25 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/61 As is the case with many contingent faculty, blogger Adjunct Whore was a long-term graduate student, pursuing her dissertation while working. She is also part of a faculty couple, and just scored a tenure-track job when her institution adopted a moderately enlightened partner hiring policy:

mr. whore just went through tenure. in August, the institution published and distributed an official policy (yep, in print even) about partner hiring (in addition to some other much needed policies such as maternity/spousal leave for birth, etc.). we, of course, were beside ourselves with glee. was it actually possible that we ended up in this bizarre parallel universe whereby the university actually recognizes how this could be useful to it? (of course, it wouldn’t recognize its value for those individuals/families involved) jumping for joy at our good fortune, mr. whore initiated the process whereby he requests that the dean and department consider my hire. but before this could go very far, the dean issued a blanket warning to all of those interested in such a move (and apparently there was an immediate and amazing number of such requests), that a partner hire would be considered only if the faculty member (mr. whore) received a job offer.

despairing and angry–how is this any different than any other institutional practice but for the confusing policy on paper?–mr. whore and i went out full force on the market…

Even though I’ve already given away the ending, read the whole story. It’ll do your heart good. Also of interest may be this discussion of partner hiring with a HTUW reader.

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(video) Striking a Nerve: Predatory Employment in Higher Ed http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/49 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/49#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2008 02:50:34 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/49 Oh. My. God.

I thought I’d heard all the stories already. Wrong. In the discussion of the Faculty on Food Stamps video over in the non-tenure track forum at the Chronicle of Higher Education, plenty of others chimed in that they’d been forced to take their families on public assistance. One guy even slept in a tent while flying the freeways.

In winter.

In Canada:

[I]commuted thousands of kms each week, slept in a tent (in the winter. In Canada) and lived on boiled rice and baked beans for the “privilege” of making 25 cents per student per hour (less the travel costs, of course).
I know now that I’m TT I’m too scared of losing the position to stick my neck out for the adjuncts… and I feel ashamed. I think change is something that needs to be demanded by the students before university admins will listen.

I just posted Part 1 of my interview with Monica Jacobe, Predatory Employment in Higher Ed: “I’m almost thirty years old and I’ve never earned thirty thousand dollars–always less than that. I think the highest I ever made was twenty-seven five.”

And there’s the story of GrrlScientist who gets by on dog-walking, medicaid, the food bank, and donations from her blog readers. After viewing “Faculty on Food Stamps,” she posted:

I thought my employment situation was solely due to some mysterious and horrible flaw that is obvious to everyone except me, but here is a man who has the same complaints and problems, almost word-for-word as I have… So, like many PhDs, I have been trapped into either working as an adjunct or being homeless, yet being told by academe that I am not “worthy” of tenure because I worked as an adjunct professor.

Unfortunately, due to my credit being destroyed by numerous lawsuits for unpaid medical bills, I am no longer able to get a “real job” because I have to pass a credit check to be considered “employable”, nevermind that I am not applying for jobs where I would work with other people’s precious money. So how do I get by? Since I have no family to rely on, I survive by pet sitting and dog walking when I can find the work, getting food from food banks and homeless shelters (Since it takes at least one year of persistent battling to get them, I still don’t have food stamps), writing my blog in exchange for a few hundred dollars per month, donations from my blog readers, medicaid (thank the spaghetti monster that I FINALLY qualified for medicaid, after one year of rejections, of paperwork, of threats and lawsuits upon lawsuits), tutoring when I can find the work (which is rare since I am not affiliated with any institutions now), and (while I was in undergrad and graduate school), breeding and hand-rearing parrots for zoos, private parrot breeders and pet owners.

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Fantasy and the Faculty http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/48 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/48#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2008 19:36:17 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/48 At the New Hampshire presidential debates Saturday, Charlie Gibson imagined that a faculty couple at the host institution were in the $200,000 income bracket.

They laughed so hard he practically blushed through his makeup.

The reality: in the absence of spousal hiring policies, faculty couples tend to be one tenure-stream, one not: combined incomes for most such couples will be less than half that figure.

On the scab Jon Stewart show last night, Ronald Seeber, a Cornell labor-relations prof, erroneously suggested that the professoriate wasn’t unionized. Reality: it’s one of the most unionized professions in the country (faculty are unionized at a rate 300% of the national average), and for good reason. A labor-studies expert should know better. The problem is that the unionized tenure-stream faculty have–like most other unions–helped to bargain the second-tier faculty into existence, preserving benefits and wages for current tenure-track folks while permitting new hires to be steered into nontenurable positions.

And Karl Steel of Cliopatria-award winning medievalist blog In the Middle has a great post discussing the US News report on higher ed teaching as one of the “best professions.” Reality: most humanities faculty earn in the same range as bartenders and waitstaff.

And of course there’s the Faculty on Food Stamps video, plus a good story by Inside Higher Ed.

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