The Proposed Evisceration of Tenure at Saint Louis University

This, from the Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday:

“Post-tenure review should be for the purposes of assisting faculty members in improving their performance,” says B. Robert Kreiser, associate secretary of the AAUP. “But the policy that has been proposed would effectively eviscerate tenure as it’s understood at most institutions of higher learning.”

Unfortunately, that seems to be the goal.

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The Continuing “Silent Crisis”

From the Department of Old News:

When I returned to teaching eleven years ago, it was as an adjunct. That was fine with me. In fact, it was exactly what I wanted. My store and cafe had suffered collateral damage from the dot-com bust and I needed to cut expenses. One of those was health insurance. Teaching a course or two could cover that expense.

I worked as an adjunct for three years, at three different colleges and one online, for-profit concern. For me, that worked out perfectly. I was re-introduced to academia, started writing again, and discovered that I loved the teaching. In 2004, I accepted a full-time “visiting” position and began to think about closing Shakespeare’s Sister completely. In 2006, I took a tenure-track position and began to ease away from the store/cafe (which I decided to close for good two years later).

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Business Experience As Academic Qualification? Oh, Really?

The following is a guest post by Michael DeCesare, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology & Criminology, and president of the AAUP Chapter, at Merrimack College.

The president of the University of Toledo plans to appoint his former chief financial officer (CFO) to the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

While it is not uncommon for a CFO to slide into the role of president, it would be both rare and unsettling for a CFO to be appointed as a provost. One might reasonably wonder, after all, what exactly in a financial officer‘s background and experience would qualify that person to become the chief academic administrator on campus. Indeed, President Lloyd Jacobs’ proposed appointee, Scott Scarborough, has extraordinarily little experience with academic affairs (read his bio). To many observers, this appointment would represent, above all else, the encroachment of a non-academic into an uncharted territory of the academic realm.

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Wal-Mart for Walden Pond

When Dave Tomar’s new book The Shadow Scholar: How I made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat appears next month, the attention is probably going to be on the failings of the students and on the ethical faults of those abetting them. Perhaps it should also be on the rest of us, who have allowed a diploma and the grades leading to it to become commodities. It has been a long process but, for too many, education has turned from something internal, something one carries no matter the situation, to a market item only. The implications of my favorite lines from The Wizard of Oz are no longer just a joke based on a little truth. Now they are the truth:

Back where I come from we have universities, seats of great learning — where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep     thoughts — and with no more brains than you have…. But!  They have one thing you haven’t got!  A diploma!

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Adjunct Positions and Student Learning

A new report out today from the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (of which the AAUP is a member) focuses on problems faced by contingent faculty–and, by extension, their students–at the start of term. The report, based on a survey by the New Faculty Majority of 500 adjuncts, find that many have “at best, inadequate access to sample course syllabi, curriculum guidelines, library resources, clerical support, and the like. They often have only limited, if any, access to personal offices, telephones, computers, and associated software, and technological tools and training.”

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Delphi Report on Contingent Faculty: A Professor’s Response

The following is a guest post by Donald Rogers. Rogers is the chair of the Organization of American Historians Committee on Part-Time, Adjunct and Contingent Faculty, and serves as the OAH liaison to the Coalition on the Academic Workforce. He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University.

Recently, the Delphi Project brought an important report on “The Changing Faculty and Student Success” that demands our careful attention and discussion. Here’s what I personally think about it from my vantage point as a long-time contingent faculty member and as chair of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) Committee on Part-Time, Adjunct and Contingent Faculty.

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Comparing Talking MOOCs

This post is a re-presentation/slightly edited version of this post from my own blog where I have lately been discussing my participation in a Coursera MOOC “World Music.”

Throw a brick out a window nowadays and you are liable to hit an article about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); conveniently, The Chronicle of Higher Education has grouped most of their coverage of the development of MOOCs going all the way back to 2008.  The one sentence summary (and the details of this are disputed by different critics) is MOOCs are free online classes made up of thousands of students engaging in the class.  Both the controversy and interest in MOOCs have increased significantly as several Silicon Valley start-up enterprises– notably Coursera– have entered the market with millions of dollars in venture capital.

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How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps

This piece, by Debra Leigh Scott, originally appeared on the blog The Homeless Adjunct. It is reposted here with her permission:

A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, “In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, ‘History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level.”

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Once More: The Value of History and Context

Last week, Mitt Romney directed that Obama “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.”

For good and bad, ‘division and anger’ have always been part of American politics. Take the case of Alexander Hamilton. He was called “Tom S**t” in one New York paper, was accused of having African ancestry (shades of ‘born in Kenya’), and was accused both of being a bastard and a foreigner. He could give as well as receive (one of the reasons for the anger against him), but could also move into something more substantial… including the Federalist Papers.

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Commodifying “Content”

Four recent incidents have made me aware again of one of those itches it seems impossible to scratch, the valuation of “content” as a product rather than as the culmination of a process. Scholarship, today, becomes simply the thing for sale.

The first of these was the resignation of Jonah Lehrer from The New Yorker. The second was the recall of David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson.  The third was Fareed Zakaria’s admission of plagiarism. The last one, which is helping me come to an understanding of the first three, was an email from someone at a company called Social Monsters saying “I’d love to put together a unique high quality article for your site.”

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