In a recent post, I detailed the “golden goodbyes,” the no longer extraordinary, very generous retirement packages, being negotiated by university presidents across the United States. I described this trend as salient evidence of the corporatization of our universities, but I don’t think that one can truly understand what is occurring with pensions without knowing the numbers.
Here are the CEOs with the top ten retirement accounts (source: the Center for Effective Government’s report Platinum-Plated Pensions):
Personal Pension Fund: $144,278,492
Anticipated Monthly Pension Payment: $853,205
Personal Pension Fund: $134,458,619
Anticipated Monthly Pension Payment: $795,134
Personal Pension Fund: $113,157,559
Anticipated Monthly Pension Payment: $669,169 Continue reading
In her testimony, Maria Maisto correctly emphasizes that the ACA itself is not the problem but, instead, the efforts by colleges and universities to avoid providing to their part-time faculty the health insurance that the ACA makes available.
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Testimony for the Record
Submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce
for the November 14, 2013 Hearing on
“The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.”
Good morning, Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and members of the committee on Education and the Workforce. My name is Maria Maisto, and I am the president of New Faculty Majority and the Executive Director of its affiliated Foundation. We are the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to improving the quality of higher education by improving the working conditions of the majority of faculty who work in temporary, precarious positions while teaching over half of all undergraduate courses in higher education. This majority is now 75% of the faculty, or over a million professors, often known as “adjuncts,” working on contingent appointments—that is, appointments that are contingent on budgets and enrollments and can be terminated with little or no notice. Continue reading
Not surprisingly, the following news release reflecting the ideological position of the GOP majority on the committee completely ignores Maria Maisto’s testimony and frames the hearings in which she participated as providing just further evidence of the supposedly devastating impact of the ACA. Notice that Maria’s testimony is not quoted even once in the excerpts from the hearings that constitute the second half of the news release, but the two administrators who clearly oppose the ACA are quoted repeatedly.
Hearing Exposes ObamaCare’s Painful Consequences for Students, Educators, and Schools
The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing to discuss the challenges schools and postsecondary institutions now face as a result of President Obama’s government takeover of health care.
“Over the last several years we’ve talked a great deal about the budgetary challenges facing states, school districts, and institutions of higher education,” Chairman Kline said. “We’ve discussed how Washington can at times make these fiscal problems worse. Much of the debate has focused on the costs of federal rules, regulations, and mandates that directly intervene in classrooms.”
“However,” Chairman Kline added, “we must be mindful that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden classrooms. The health care law is a prime example. At a time when we need to recruit the best teachers, train today’s workers for the jobs of the future, and school leaders are trying to do more with less, imposing a fundamentally flawed and costly law on our schools is not in the best interests of teachers, parents, taxpayers, or students.” Continue reading
Nov 19, 2013 Issues: Education, Higher Education, Labor, Jobs and Job Training, Worker Rights,Wages and Benefits
WASHINGTON – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today announced an eForum to investigate how an increased reliance on contingent faculty by colleges and universities nationwide has impacted the lives of faculty as well as students’ higher education.
“This eForum is an opportunity for adjuncts and other contingent faculty to inform the Congress about what’s happening on the ground with higher education. I think there is a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world,” said Rep. Miller. Rep. Miller raised the idea of an internet forum for receiving adjuncts’ stories and comments at a committee hearing last week.
“We should all be alarmed about what’s been happening to higher education labor over the last couple decades,” Rep. Miller later elaborated. “Tuition keeps skyrocketing. Yet the people doing the bulk of the work educating college students are getting less and less compensation. There are adjuncts who make between $2000 and $3000 per course for a semester, with no benefits. There are adjuncts on food stamps. I think the Congress should be taking a serious look at this phenomenon.” Continue reading
In previous posts, I have detailed Gordon Gee’s extraordinary compensation as President Emeritus of Ohio State, as well as the fact that the only two public university administrators whose compensation exceeded his in 2012 were Graham B. Spanier of Penn State and Jay Gogue of Auburn, both of whom have also retired—Spanier under considerably more fire for his role in covering up Jerry Sandusky’s serial child abuse than Gee received for his derogatory comments about other universities whose football teams have been ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. Notably, Spanier’s base salary for his final year as the President of Penn State constituted only 12.1% of his total compensation for that year, and Gogue’s for his final year at Auburn, only 19% of his total compensation.
Nonetheless, it seems that Gee’s hanging on in a reduced and overpaid role is becoming more the model than Spanier’s and Gogue’s very large but one-time payouts. I have stolen the subtitle of this post from an article that appeared in the Boston Globe. Written by Todd Wallack, the article delineates the post-retirement compensation received by former Brandeis president, Jehudas Reinharz. Although Reinharz reclaimed his old office in the history department, there is no record of his doing any teaching, supervision of graduate theses, or departmental service over the three years since he retired from the presidency of the university. Yet, he has been receiving $600,000 per year, making him the second most highly paid employee at the university. In fairness to Reinharz, his compensation from the university declined to $500,000 in 2011, further declined to about $285,000 for the years from 2011 to 2014, and will thereafter be $180,000 per year to compensate him for being a “half-time professor.” But, in addition to what he earns directly from the university, Reinharz has been named the president of the Mandel Foundation, which has contributed more than $50 million in external funding to the university over the last two decades, and he is reportedly receiving another $800,000 per year in that role. Continue reading
This announcement may be somewhat dated, but it is the first that I have seen it. I think that everyone should be aware of it, even if your institution is not participating. And it is possible that they may still be looking for institutions to participate.
Kick Wall St. Off Campus!
Investigation & Research Wiki
From toxic interest rate swaps by Wall St. execs turned administrators in California to pay to play schemes in New York and Texas that made one lender “preferred” while financial aid officers owned its stock, we have seen countless examples over the last few years of Wall St. cashing in on higher ed.
In collaboration with the student debt campaign, the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) is launching a project to help campus based activists research the connections between their universities and Wall Street, and the ways in which Wall Street is skimming profits from higher ed. PAI will be setting up a dedicated campaign portal and series of research groups on LittleSis.org, (the opposite of “Big Brother”), our flagship investigative research site. We will also be publishing a research guide and running a series of research trainings with students on select campuses.
We are working to identify five public universities at which to pilot the project during the next two months (starting in Nov. 2013). If you would like your university (or system) to participate, please email Whitney Yax at email@example.com. Continue reading
Guest blogger Jeanne Zaino is professor of political science and international studies at Iona College.
In his provocative and deeply depressing The Last Professors Frank Donoghue warns that corporate logic has taken over the academy. His findings are confirmed by Andrew DeBlanco who, in his award winning College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be not only bemoans the demise of liberal arts education, but attributes it to several factors including the “commercialization of American higher education.”
Tellingly neither Donoghue nor DeBlanco call on humanists to rise up. Nor do they offer any real hope that the liberal arts generally, or the humanities in particular, can be resuscitated. Far from a call to arms, these books are elegies, laments, requiems. As Donoghue writes, “the conditions to which many seek a return – healthy humanities departments populated by tenure-track professors who discuss books with adoring students in a cloistered setting – have largely vanished.” Humanists, he goes on to predict, will in time “become an insignificant percentage of the country’s university instructional workforce.” In just a few generations they will have disappeared from all but the most affluent and vaunted of universities (where they will largely be seen more like relics and vestiges of a past life).
If we need any more proof that Donoghue and DeBlanco are right, just consider the news out of Elizabeth City State University. ECSU, a historically black college in North Carolina, recently announced that seven of its undergraduate majors may be abolished due to low enrollment. Among those designated as ‘low productive’ – history, physics, and political science. Three disciplines which have long been deemed essential to a well-rounded liberal arts education. Continue reading
The dogs started in on it. I clicked off the computer screen and walked upstairs to answer the door. My wife was already on the stoop, talking to an earnest-looking couple. She had given them a dollar for a copy of The Militant, the small ‘paper associated with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and was trying to answer their questions about the neighborhood.
They had been told that Marine Park, Brooklyn is a working-class neighborhood of people primarily of Irish and Italian descent (and I suspect they thought they would find Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden here). It has changed, though, and they were clearly a little confused. Yes, there are plenty of Italians and Irish still here… along with the Orthodox Jews (probably the fastest growing group), the African-Americans, the Asians, the Russians and who knows who else. Yes, there are plenty of bus drivers, cops, firefighters, garbage collectors, roofers, plumbers… but I am not the only college professor in the neighborhood. I live here also along with teachers of all other stripes, and psychiatrists, physicians, librarians, veterinarians, retired folk, people on permanent disability, musicians and who knows what else. In fact, it is now a fair sampling of Americans–all except the 1% that constitutes the rich and the 15% called poor.
In a way, we now are the American working class, here, but we are a class nothing like the SWP probably imagines. We are a class defined not by the work we do or by our level of education–but (as my wife pointed out after the SWP people had left) by our income and, today, by our precarious perch on the edge of financial insolvency. Continue reading
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Good Morning: Thank you for holding this public forum. We are honored to have you on our campus. My name is Kate Fawver and I am Professor and Chair of the Department of History here at CSU Dominguez Hills. I come before you today speaking as faculty member and as a former student, who in 2003, graduated from the University of California Riverside with a PhD in History and $100,000 in student loans. More than most, I recognize the enormous and immediate crisis in higher education – because I live there.
“Between 2008 and 2013, state funding for higher education as a percentage of state personal income declined by 22.6%. States have cut their annual investment in higher education by nearly half since 1980 (February 2013 report from Postsecondary Education Opportunity). As a consequence, institutions have both increased tuition and diverted funding from instruction, so that 75% of the faculty now work on temporary, low-wage contracts without benefits, which undermines their ability to serve students properly, especially economically disadvantaged first generation students, most of whom enter college underprepared.”1 Continue reading
Our media has conditioned us to focus on the moment, on the immediate situation. It is very seldom that the media encourages us to take a longer perspective. And in those few instances in which a longer view is attempted, very often the immediate situation is simply projected outward–multiplied as if the current conditions will not change, when in fact the premise should be that they will almost certainly change and most likely will do so quite dramatically.
So when we are in a period of rapid economic growth, the media can be counted on to ignore the sometimes obvious evidence that another “bubble” is swelling toward the point at which it will inevitably burst. In that type of cycle, the media is afraid to be characterized as alarmist. And yet, over the past thirty years, the most predictable feature of our economy has, ironically, been the series of “bubbles” that have burst with almost astonishing regularity: the rapid defense build-up at the tail end of the Cold War, the savings and loan deregulation, the junk bonds, the dot.com stocks, the Enrons and World Coms, the mortgage-backed derivatives. And then, when we experience a sudden economic downturn after a “bubble” does burst, the media typically frames things as if the country may never climb out of the downturn. Continue reading