This series will review the employment data for U.S. colleges and universities from 2004 to 2012. That data has been measured against enrollment, by the percentage increase in each category per 1,000 students at the institution. The five categories are: full-time faculty, part-time faculty, upper administration, professional staff, and non-professional staff (with the last three categories limited to full-time employment.
Before I survey the data for institutions in Alabama, I would like to emphasize that this data is already two years old, and hiring at an individual institution may have changed significantly or even dramatically over the past two years. More broadly, for those of us who do not work for a particular institution or who reside outside a particular state, the specific percentages for each institution are, ultimately, of less importance than the patterns that emerge from them.
I will begin with the Alabama institutions at which employment patterns seem to bucked the national trend and to have moved toward an increased emphasis on creating full-time faculty positions. I should pause here to emphasize, however, that tenured and tenure-eligible full-time positions (TET) and non-tenure-eligible full-time positions (NTE) are not distinguished in this data. At Auburn University—Montgomery, full-time faculty positions increased 10.77% in proportion to enrollment, part-time faculty positions decreased 2.58%, upper administrative positions decreased 19.59%, professional staff positions decreased 39.37%, and non-professional staff positions decreased 24.13%. Of the 51 two- and four-year institutions for which data is available, Auburn University—Montgomery is the only one at which an increase in full-time faculty was accompanied by decreases in all of the other categories of employment. Continue reading
When I was entering graduate school in 1978, there were 29 new Ph.D.’s for every tenure-track job opening in English. It was the period in which anecdotes about Ph.D.’s driving taxi cabs became commonplace.
I didn’t know that information at the time, but it became very apparent as I made my way through the Masters and doctoral programs. Very few students in the cohort ahead of me stayed on to pursue a Ph.D. The cohort that included me essentially vanished. And the cohort that followed me has a much more nuts-and-bolts point of view about graduate education. They seemed to feel very little of the joy that I felt about simply being in graduate school and, instead, to be focused immediately and intently on doing everything that they could to enhance their chances of securing a tenure-track position.
I started graduate school in the transition between the baby-boom years, when states rapidly increased their outlays to higher education and institutions created new faculty positions in a sort of desperate effort to keep up with rapidly expanding enrollments–until they ultimately found themselves over-staffed with faculty. I had been born in the middle of the baby boom, which meant that the most marked increase in postwar births had preceded my birth. My father earned a blue-collar wage in a munitions plant, and because my older brother was also attending college when I enrolled, I received very generous federal Basic Educational Opportunity (BEOG) grants as well as state grants. My entire four years as a baccalaureate student at a private university ended up costing cost me $400. I was, in short, among the last middle-class students who could idealize the opportunity of earning a college degree, who could separate it from its cost because its cost was not an issue. Continue reading
If American higher education is going to continue to aspire to excellence, its institutions need to address and reverse the growing reliance on adjuncts as teachers. Not only is this exploitative of the adjuncts (to say nothing of the students), but it reduces our colleges and universities to factories, effectively excluding academic freedom and removing research components from teaching responsibilities. Two of the three aspects of a professor’s job, teaching, scholarship and service, are eliminated, for adjuncts are expected to do nothing but complete classroom activities.
Though reliance on adjuncts has risen primarily because it is a cheap alternative to tenured and tenure-track faculty, it also fits into the corporate top-down models of governance, models of efficiency that see shared governance as a waste of time and energy. To date, college and university administrations have been given little incentive to move in another direction. To them, use of adjuncts provides a situation where they not only save money but they get rid of pesky faculty involvement in what they see as exclusively their own responsibilities. They are not going to make a change unless countering incentives, or new oversight structures, are offered.
It’s nice to see that the plight of adjuncts is finally getting play in American media. The New York Times, for example, ran an editorial today that ends: Continue reading
Though she is perhaps best known for her 1966 skewering of LBJ, MacBird, perhaps all of us should be paying a little more attention to Barbara Garson today. Her book Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live should be out in paperback any day now. Here’s what Adam Hochschild says about it:
Garson knows that the hard times so many people are living through are not just composed of headlines about corporate profits, unemployment rates and foreclosures; they are composed of human beings. This book is a compassionate, probing, pointillist mural of the Great Recession and of the decades-long erosion of the average American’s economic position that preceded it, all told through the experiences of individual men and women. She has followed some over time, has sought out others whose lives illuminate larger injustices, and has found people whose stories will stick with you.
What has this to do with the AAUP or American faculty? Continue reading
In a recent op-ed piece on the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s Worldwide blog, Dzulkifli Abdul Razak responded to an article written by Nigel Thrift, vice chancellor of the University of Warwick. Thrift had argued for the creation of an international association of colleges and universities, suggesting that it would not only facilitate efforts to meet the common challenges confronting institutions, but it would also promote higher education as a global resource in meeting broader socio-economic challenges.
Razak, the president of the International Association of Universities, pointed out that his organization already exists and is committed to the core aims delineated by Thrift. I am not sure whether Thrift’s apparent lack of awareness of Razak’s organization demonstrates his own limited perspective or the limited reach of the organization, or both. But, since I was also completely unaware of the International Association of Universities, I sense that the that organization either has considerably more work to do in becoming more truly representative and effective, or that it somehow is not meeting the need that both Thrift and Razak articulate very convincingly.
Coincidentally, as I have been collecting materials for this blog, I have become much more acutely aware that the challenges that we are facing as faculty at American institutions are not unique to our country—that those challenges are not only being confronted by faculty in nations around the globe but they are often complicated by socio-economic, political, and cultural factors that make them much more difficult and even hazardous to confront. Continue reading
For the past five to six months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been confronting a seemingly ever-increasing number of legislative and legal investigations into misconduct by his immediate subordinates, starting with the politically motivated decision to close lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge but expanding into seeming improprieties in how federal funds allocated for Sandy relief have been used to leverage private development projects and to reward political loyalists.
The national media initially paid scant attention to the story, focusing more on the then presidential frontrunner’s brusque and often derisive dismissals of the inquiries being doggedly pursued by local investigative journalists than on the crux of the matter–that Christie either has lied about his awareness of and perhaps even his direct involvement in what has occurred, or he has been woefully and inexplicably oblivious to what his most immediate, senior advisors have been doing.
Having adopted a grossly simplistic storyline about Christie, the national media was loathe to abandon it. That storyline extrapolated from two details—Christie’s literal and figurative embrace of President Obama during the Sandy crisis and at the height of the 2012 presidential election and his subsequent landslide re-election as governor in 2013. And so, in an age of entrenched political partisanship and gerrymandered political advantage, this Republican governor of a heavily Democratic state briefly became the seeming embodiment of bipartisanship, beloved by the residents of the state not in spite of his bull-in-a-china-shop persona but because of it. In a period of escalating political impasse, Christie seemed to embody a refreshing “can-do” attitude toward governing. Continue reading
My Professional Activity Report and Self Evaluation (or PARSE) is over twenty pages long… not counting all of the required documentation. PARSE was instituted to save time and space–it’s all on computer and just needs ‘updating’ each year–but it seems to have become a repository of everything that can either be scanned or entered having any sort of relation to faculty activities. All of us on faculties everywhere are, for good reason, concerned about our advancement… to tenure (if we are lucky enough to be on that track), to re-appointment, to promotion. So, we dump everything we can into our files and then burn them all onto our particular institution’s version of PARSE DVDs at the end of each academic year.
Promotion committees get the pleasure of reading through all of this. It’s quite the experience. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of years (having made it to Associate Professor that recently), but I am already exhausted each year by the sheer volume on each candidate… and by the demands of the Peers Committee as it discusses each file. Teaching, scholarship, and service: we get caught up by the minutiae of each, constantly in danger of forgetting that there’s a person involved, too, someone whose contributions can’t be completely reduced to the 1s and 0s of a digital file. Continue reading
In a well-meaning article for The New York Times, Wharton professor Adam Grant proposes trifurcating tenure, slashing it apart, essentially, in order to save it. He ends by writing:
Dividing tenure tracks may be what economists call a Pareto improvement: It benefits one group without hurting another. Let’s reserve teaching for professors with the relevant passion and skill — and reward it. Sharing knowledge with students should be a privilege of tenure, not an obligation.
That sounds nice; there certainly is an appeal to splitting the tenured into researchers, teachers, and researcher/teachers and giving each differing requirements. After all, we split our universities into research institutions (generally universities), more traditionally student-centered colleges, and community colleges. Why shouldn’t tenure reflect that split? Continue reading
January 30, 2014
Via U.S. Mail and E-Mail To:
The Hon. Solomon Oliver, Jr., Council Chairperson
Barry A. Currier, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education
Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
American Bar Association
321 N. Clark Street, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60654-7958
RE: Comments on Proposed Revisions to Standard 405
Dear Members of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education:
The American Association of University Professors (“AAUP”) respectfully submits these comments on the proposed revisions under consideration by the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (hereinafter the “Council”) to Standard 405 of the ABA’s Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (“the Accreditation Standards”). The AAUP believes that any move toward eliminating tenure from the accreditation standards, directly or indirectly, would be a grave mistake harmful to American legal education. This submission has been prepared by the AAUP legal office and its faculty advisors, and is endorsed by the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Continue reading
An (apparently) non-academic writer, Sarah Kendzior, has an article in the new “Vitae” project of The Chronicle of Higher Education called “What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?” Is hers a good question?
I am not sure, for I am not sure what ”academic publishing” means. Not any longer. Today, I believe it is becoming something of a distinction without real difference behind it. Which leaves us with the question, “What is the point of publishing?” Something else, entirely.
Perhaps the Chronicle understands this, for the picture accompanying the article is of a newspaper printing press of a type rarely seen since the middle of the last century. This type of press has little to do with “academic publishing,” not by any definition and certainly not today… though it certainly has a lot to do with publishing. Continue reading