The Ohio Conference of AAUP (OCAAUP) has joined such groups as the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), New Faculty Majority (NFM), Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA), and Ohio Student Association (OSA) in forming a statewide advocacy group on issues related to higher education. After taking some time to create an operating structure and to define its goals, the group held its first press conference this past week. What follows is the news items that the OCAAUP is distributing to its members.
On Tuesday, March 4, the Ohio Higher Education Coalition (OHEC) held its first press conference announcing the formation of the coalition, highlighting student debt stories, and calling for restoration of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which gives need-based aid to lower income students.
February 18, 2014
At the 2013 convention in Los Angeles, the AFL-CIO reaffirmed its historical commitment to increasing access to post-secondary education and alleviating the financial burden that now too often is part of that education. Accordingly, we call on federal and state policymakers to make post-secondary training and education more accessible by ending the trend of disinvestment and increasing funding for public higher education, especially community and technical colleges.
State funding for higher education is now at lower levels in the last quarter century. To make up for lost state funds, schools have raised the price of tuition fees by more than 1,000% since 1980. States have cut crucial student services such as tutoring and job placement, and has led to radical changes in the academic workforce. Colleges are increasingly relying on contingent faculty to do the bulk of teaching. Contingent faulty– who now comprise more than 70% of the instructional corps–are every bit as committed to the education of their students and the mission of their institutions as their tenure-track colleagues, yet they receive a fraction of the compensation, few of the employee benefits, and entirely too little respect for doing the same work. This is particularly true at those colleges that serve the students with the greatest needs. Disinvestment and a lack of commitment to instruction has left a majority of college educators without the professional supports they need to provide the highest-quality education to their students. In short, students are paying more, whether out of pocket or through student loans, and receiving less. Continue reading
I present the article that follows this introduction, which is taken from the newsletter of the AAUP chapter at the University of Akron, because what is occurring there now is certainly occurring elsewhere and would seem to be of considerable broader interest. The political endorsements of increasing enrollments in STEM programs and the resulting allocation of funding to reward such increases has had the not entirely coincidental effect of causing a sizable number of institutions to view this as an opportune time to cull “under-enrolled” programs, especially in the humanities, the social sciences, and education and human services.
What has been lost in the discussion of which disciplines lead to the most in-demand and most highly paid positions is that most jobs in today’s economy, which is more than ever a service-based economy, require degrees in the humanities, the social sciences, and education and human services, and not in the STEM disciplines. Employment in these areas may not be as financially rewarding as employment in the STEM fields, but those degrees are, in terms of annual income, still worth two to three times what a high school diploma is worth, and the differences in income become even more pronounced at the back end of those working lives of those in both categories.
Indeed, it is worth noting that in July of 2012, Daniel Luzer contributed an article to the Washington Monthly titled “Even the Science Ph.D.s Are in Trouble.” Luzer cited several employment surveys showing that the constriction of employment opportunities in higher education had led to a glut of science doctorates in the private sector. I am not suggesting that the recipients of baccalaureate degrees in the STEM disciplines may necessarily face similar problems in finding suitable employment, but historically, enrollments in the STEM disciplines have been very low in comparison to enrollments in the humanities, the social sciences, and education and human services. The usual explanation/defense offered by the faculty in the STEM disciplines has been that their programs are more specialized and rigorous—that any effort to boost enrollments would almost inevitably lead to a dilution of standards. One wonders, then, how any increase in enrollments stimulated largely by a sudden political interest in expanding the number of graduates in those disciplines might impact those standards. Continue reading
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
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
This is a more detailed version of the invitation to file amicus briefs with the NLRB prior to its consideration of Pacific Lutheran University’s filing to prevent SEIU from organizing the university’s faculty.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BEFORE THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
PACIFIC LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL Union, LOCAL 925
NOTICE AND INVITATION TO FILE BRIEFS
On September 23, 2013, the Board (Chairman Pearce, Members Miscimarra and Hirozawa) granted the Employer’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election because it raised “substantial issues warranting review…with respect to the assertion of jurisdiction over the Employer and the determination that certain faculty members are not managerial employees” under the Act.1
The Board invites the filing of briefs to afford the parties and interested amici the opportunity to address the issues raised in this case.
The parties and amici specifically are invited to address one or more of the following questions: Continue reading
So says Richard Vedder in “New Analysis Shows Problematic Boom In Higher Ed Administrators,” an article by Joe Marcus appearing last week on Huffington Post. Marcus writes:
Universities have added these administrators and professional employees even as they’ve substantially shifted classroom teaching duties from full-time faculty to less-expensive part-time adjunct faculty and teaching assistants, the figures show.
“They’ve increased their hiring of part-time faculty to try and cut costs,” said Donna Desrochers, a principal researcher at the Delta Cost Project, which studies higher-education spending. “Yet other factors that are going on, including the hiring of these other types of non-academic employees, have undercut those savings.” 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