Saturday, October 31, 2009

DNA in The Atlantic's Daily Dish

More national (& non-academic) coverage of NFM veep Matt Williams, Akron U & DNA kerfuffle in Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish column, "Resume, Cover Letter, DNA"

Professionalization in the Academy

Bookmark notes: "The Ph.D. Problem," on the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy's self-renewal:

"[T]he modern academic discipline reproduces all the salient features of the professionalized occupation. It is a self-governing and largely closed community of practitioners who have an almost absolute power to determine the standards for entry, promotion, and dismissal in their fields. ....Since it is the system that ratifies the product—ipso facto, no one outside the community of experts is qualified to rate the value of the work produced within it—the most important function of the system is not the production of knowledge. It is the reproduction of the system.... It is the academic's job in a free society to serve the public culture by asking questions the public doesn't want to ask, investigating subjects it cannot or will not investigate..." + pages of comments

Thanks to Kibrolv at Open a Vein for blogging this one (post title, "the octopus") for me to pick up his link on RSS reader, read article, bookmark on NFM bundle and then share here (tweet later too). More bookmarks at Blogged via

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University

Wannabe U by Gaye Tuchman, reviewed in UK academic press, Times Higher Education, is an indictment of today's academy that strikes a chord with reviewer Susan Bassnett. It did with me and (I hope) will with you.

"tough, honest, highly entertaining - and also a serious examination of what is happening in one typical US state university with aspirations to a greater role on the international academic stage....This book is based on the American university system, but the patterns of behaviour that it outlines will be all too familiar to administrators and academics in universities all over the world."

IHE: DNA Swab for Your Job

Picking up traction indeed ~ from Matt's press release to ACLU, CBS News blog & now IHE. Can CHE even NYT be far behind? The topic and issues should be to alternate press tastes as well. 

DNA Swab for Your Job via Inside Higher Ed on 10/29/09: U. of Akron says all new employees must be willing to submit to an unusual test for academic employment. Adjunct leader quits in disgust.

Aside from obvious questions of ethics and legalities, how do such requirements affect adjuncts more adversely than full time and tenure faculty? Maria Maisto observed that, should DNA sampling become a widespread policy, an adjunct teaching at multiple campuses might be required to submit 5-6 samples. Also, one might ask who pays for testing? Most states require fingerprinting for K-12 teachers and staff ~ often paid for by the school district. Substitute teachers (non contract) and volunteers pay for their own testing.

From the Department of Ill Wind and Cloud Linings: this suggests (indeed screams out for) street theater treatment and CEW activities (ripped from the headlines as it were). Put a jar of swabs and a stack of lab sample envelopes on your tables...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blog post on impasse in Montgomery College negotations

Thanks to Anne McLeer, SEIU Local 500, Director of Research/Strategic Planning, for permission to cross post from adj-l. There’s a lot going on in the “adjunctverse” these days ~ CHE surveys, Southwestern College shenanigans, Akron U imposing DNA sampling, AAUP & AFT “conversion” proposals, California budget woes ~ more than I can keep up with so any help readers can offer is more than welcome.

Part-time faculty at Montgomery College Maryland have declared impasse in their negotiations with the College over the issue of pay raises. Here is a link to an excellent blog on the subject by Maryland political blogger Adam Pagnucco. Please read the blog and comment.


The SEIU 500 Coalition for Academic Labor will be hosting a “Forum on Part-time Faculty Unions: A National and Local Movement” on Nov 7th in Washington, DC (flyer for the event)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Southwestern College students protest class cuts (& what the Administration did)

AAUP is taking an interest in this one after we brought it to their attention on adj-l. Click through to the blog post for comments.

On Thursday, October 22, students at Southwestern College in Chula Vista chose to protest against the unilateral actions of the school president and its Board. The protest was civil and held in the fifty yard-by-fifty yard zone that the school calls its "Free Speech Area."

It should also be noted that the Free Speech Area is hidden away between several buildings and is invisible to any road, parking lot, or driveway that surrounds the campus. To a member of the voting public - such as myself - who showed up to watch the students, it was difficult to find. I, like others, had to park and wander the campus until we found it.

For the last Board meeting, President Chopra refused to move the venue from the tiny room it usually used to the auditorium it regularly uses when it expects a big crowd. He knew that students, professors, members of the public, and the press were coming to express their displeasure at his budget-slashing plans, so more than one hundred people – like me – stood outside and listened to the meeting on little speakers, while police guarded the doors.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

UUP Chapter at SUNY New Paltz marks Campus Equity Week

Campus Equity Week (CEW) is a bi-annual, national week of action to call attention to the working conditions of part-time, adjunct, and other contingent academic and professional faculty in higher education. The local chapter of United University Professions (UUP) on the SUNY New Paltz campus has actively participated in CEW for many years. This year, CEW is being held across the country from October 26 to 30.
New Paltz UUP Chapter President Richard Kelder states that 
“we have been trying for years to improve pay and working conditions for our part-timers and adjuncts and our union has had some success. Through the efforts of UUP the salary of adjuncts has increased in the past 10 years and we have been able to secure health insurance and other benefits. However, their compensation still lags far behind full-time faculty on campus. The major problems are the continued under funding of SUNY by NY State and a lack of political will on the part of our legislators to fund and support public higher education. UUP will continue to take a public stand to ensure that our citizens are able to receive a quality postsecondary education and that all faculty and staff are compensated fairly for their knowledge, talents, and teaching ability. For campus equity week, UUP will be speaking to faculty, staff, legislators, students and their parents to inform them of the situation that many SUNY instructors and others face every day. Many of our adjunct faculty have served the college with distinction and dedication for many years and are entitled to job security and better compensation.” 
Currently, part-time or adjunct faculty comprise slightly less than half of the teachers at SUNY New Paltz. They teach about a third of all the courses at SUNY New Paltz. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

VIEWPOINT: State system exploits part-time professors | Other voices - The News Tribune | Seattle-Tacoma News, Weather, Sports, Jobs, Homes and Car

Remember that misbegotten Money magazine article? Keith Hoeller's article in the Tacoma News Tribune, VIEWPOINT: State system exploits part-time professors, opens:

"In its November issue, Money magazine asks: “Do college professors have great jobs, or what?” It answered with a resounding “Yes!”

The magazine ranks college teaching as the third best job in America in its November issue. It also ranks college teaching as the third least stressful job in America, with nearly 60 percent of professors surveyed saying their job is low stress.

When I shared this story during lunch with several professors at my community college, there was howling laughter all around. No one recognized themselves in this story, which highlighted a median salary of $70,400, flexible scheduling, intellectual freedom, long holidays and summer vacations.

How could Money have gotten it so wrong?"

College trend: Cut-rate faculty

Yet another non-academic reaction to CHE survey. This one supports better pay for adjuncts, albeit with understandable pro-science implications. Note closing paragraph:

"Still, a Ph.D-toting chemistry prof shouldn't have to earn less than a newly minted master's recipient picked up by the local middle school. How do we recruit and keep good faculty in research-intensive fields if the pay is equivalent to what day-care workers and shopping-mall cashiers earn? If we value a college education, then let's figure out a way to pay these educators what their investment in at least six to 10 years of university training should be worth."

College trend: Cut-rate *faculty* Science News on 10/23/09

Adjunct faculty face precarious financial security despite their playing an increasingly pivotal role in many schools ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

But is she qualified for a full-time position?

It's no longitudinal study about adjuncts' effects on retention or transfer rates, but in this article the country's Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan, a long-time adjunct, provides some compelling testimony and at least one illustrious example of such unquantifiable "quality of education" factors as dedication, concern, and all-around excellence.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How Administrators Took Over the University of California

Another excellent piece by Bob Samuels. If you want to understand higher budget mischief in general and, more specifically, what went awry with the UC system, you can't do better than by following Bob's blog, Changing Universities.

In the UC system, we have a saying, "When two administrators walk into a room, three always walk out." The question then is how do administrators reproduce and what effect does their reproduction have on the University of California. While I will not describe the mating habits of administrators, I will show how the growing rise of the administrative class means less money for everyone else, higher student fees, and a loss of shared governance.

According to a 2008 UCLA Faculty Association report, "Over the past decade, the numbers of Administrators in the UC almost doubled, while the number of faculty increased by 25%. The sharpest growth took place among Executives and Senior Managers: 114%. Because Administrators command high salaries and benefits, any increase in their number higher than the expected growth rate for the University results in high costs: rough estimates of the costs of carrying extra administrators at UC range around $800 million."

 The first thing to stress here is that during the last decade, as the number of students increased in the UC system, there were fewer faculty to teach them, but many more administrators to run the show. In this structure, power shifts to the administrative class, while the faculty are pushed out of shared governance. Moreover, due to their high compensation packages, administrators suck up the funds that could be spent on faculty salaries and wages for the lowest paid workers.

As I pointed out in a previous post, "In 2008, there were 397 administrators in the over 200k club making a total of $109 million, and in 2006, the same group had 214 members for a collective gross pay of $58.8 million. This group and its collective salaries, then, almost doubled in just two years." Not only has the administrative class grown in numbers and the percentage of the budget they consume through their salaries, but during the current period of "fiscal emergency," we have seen several million dollars spent on increased compensation for administrators.

UPTE has documented that during the same regents meeting where a fiscal emergency was declared and the furlough system was approved, hundreds of administrators got compensation increases,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Call for proposals

From Gwendolyn Bradley, PhD, Senior Program Officer, American Association of University Professors, Phone: 202-737-5900, ext. 112, Fax: 202-737-5526,, 1133 19th St. NW, 2nd Floor (forwarded from adj-l, emphasis added)

Call for Proposals

The AAUP invites individuals and teams to submit proposals for our annual Conference on the State of Higher Education. The conference will take place from June 9 to 12, 2010, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. International participants are particularly invited to take part in the conference. Washington’s museums, monuments, theater, and restaurants and pleasant June weather make this a great time to visit the city as well.

Presenters are invited to propose a wide range of issues related to academic freedom, governance, faculty work life, rights, and responsibilities. Among the questions the conference will explore are:

• The role of faculty in institutional decision making
• Challenges to academic freedom in the United States and abroad
The exploitation of contingent labor in colleges and universities
• The conflict between institutional rankings and educational priorities
• Strategic approaches to furloughs, cutbacks, and salary freezes
• Funding and defunding public education
• Increasing access to tenure
• Race, gender, and sexual orientation
• Discrimination in hiring, promotion, and tenure
• Online education: the pros and cons
• Assessment and accountability
• The corporatization of teaching and research
• The twenty-first century curriculum

The goal of the conference is to provide a faculty perspective on critical issues in higher education presented in a format accessible to the general public.

The conference will include special AAUP-sponsored workshops on:

• Protecting an Independent Faculty Voice at Public Institutions: the Legal Landscape
• Winning Anti-Discrimination Policies and Domestic Partner Benefits: Case Studies of Campus Successes
• The Ratcheting Up of Expectations for Tenure: Are Faculty Their Own Worst Enemy?

The AAUP conference receives extensive coverage in the educational press, often including coverage of individual papers at sessions of interest to the press; selected papers from the conference will be published in the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, a new online journal distributed to 355,000 faculty

Deadline for submission of proposals: October 31, 2009. Learn more about the conference and see the guidelines for proposals. Please forward this announcement to relevant listservs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

News: SUNY cuts

"New cuts to SUNY will devastate system", October 12, 2009, from NYSUT: A Union of Professionals.

"Gov. David Paterson dealt a staggering blow to public higher education in New York when he ordered millions of dollars cut from SUNY's budget and proposed to do the same to CUNY.

Higher education leaders reacted with shock and outrage to the governor's executive order for the midyear cuts, which slashes $90 million from SUNY and — pending legislative approval — $53 million from CUNY."

Even more fodder for CEW: time to move beyond the campus.

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the view across the pond

We are not alone. This story in Times Higher Education has a familiar ring: "The insecure scholar: My name badge is about to let me down again" is from THE's new weekly online blog on the daily struggles, petty indignities and insecurities of an academic life on casual contracts: "Conferences are fun but the chat about position and status can be so embarrassing."

The writer then describes a typical conference encounter, "Yes, I’m fully qualified with a good track record of post-doctoral research and publication. But my position within academia since completing my doctorate has been unclear. For a number of years after completing my thesis I did not hold a university position, subsisting on freelance community research projects. In those years, I came to dread receiving an integral part of any conference – the name badge. I had no institution to put underneath my name. When I bumped into people I knew, they would frequently come out with something like: 'so you’re now at... oh', looking embarrassed at my lack of affiliation. I’d have to quickly summarise my complicated employment situation before apologetically explaining that I was still doing some academic writing in my field."

What's on your name badge? Maybe it's time to face up and out ourselves as what and who we are, precariously employed some still desperately seeking permanent academic employment. Imagine the effect of complacent tenured conference goers looking around a room and seeing themselves in the minority, outnumbered like Custer at Little Big Horn... 

Other UK post-secondary (tertiary) education links of possible interest:
  • College and University Support Network (CUSN):  an independent charity supporting all adult, further and higher education staff and their families to improve their wellbeing and effectiveness; established by the Teacher Support Network, in collaboration with the University and College Union, to meet the specific needs of those working in further and higher education.
  • University and College Union (UCU): represents more than 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK and is the largest post-school union in the world. 

1st U, & founder: Rupert I: 
how times have changed

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Matt reports on the Staffing Summit

from NFM VP Matt Williams:

Maria and I had a great day yesterday as we attended the AAUP Summit on 
Higher Education Staffing for Ohio held in Columbus.  The meeting was attended by about 50 state and local AAUP, AFT, NFT, NEA, OEA, and OFT representatives along with Maria and myself from NFM and several graduate students from Ohio State University.

The meeting took a very favorable change in course toward our issues, specifically Ohio Senate Bill 129 that seeks to overturn Ohio law with respect to the exclusion of graduate assistant and part-time faculty labor from collective bargaining in the state.  We received a very supportive hearing, and Maria did a great job getting her message across.  The meeting concluded with a consensus that Senate Bill 129 should be the top legislative priority for the three unions during the coming months.  There was a sense of collective agreement on the need to reverse this arcane provision of Ohio law.

The meeting was also attended by two members of the 
state legislature as well as by a staffer representing a third. The staffer left the meeting very enthused about the issue and intent on informing his colleagues in other offices throughout the State House.  Maria and I, in consultation with AFT's lobbyist, have determined that she and I should spend time visiting every member of the legislature in our effort to seek their support for the legislation. 

SB 129 is not a slam dunk, to be sure, but looks promising in as much as the issue is beginning to receive coverage in the press. 

Regards, Matt Williams, VP, New Faculty Majority

Note: spread the word... join NFM and AFT in working toward passage of Ohio HB129. Write, fax or email an Ohio legislator. Sign the petition (coming soon). Wondering how to find a legislator and then how to write a legislator

Follow New Faculty Majority on Twitter too ~ @NewFacMajority

Friday, October 2, 2009

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

A guest post by Jen Bills, New Faculty Majority board member: Here's some information to disseminate to our members, other academic labor organizations, and individual adjuncts. Many adjuncts are likely to be eligible for:

Public Service Loan Forgivenessa new program for federal student loan borrowers who work in certain kinds of jobs. It will forgive remaining debt after 10 years of eligible employment and qualifying loan payments. (During those 10 years, the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan can help keep your loan payments affordable.)

Who can get Public Service Loan Forgiveness? This program is for people with federal student loans who work in a wide range of "public service" jobs, including jobs in government and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations.

What are eligible jobs? In most cases, eligibility is based on whether you work for an eligible employer. Your job is eligible if you:
  • are employed by any nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization;
  • are employed by the federal government, a state government, local government, or tribal government (this includes the military and public schools and colleges); or
  • serve in a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps position.
If you don't meet these criteria, the Department of Education's regulations create a two-part test of other circumstances under which you may still be eligible:
(1) your employer is not "a business organized for profit, a labor union, a partisan political organization, or an organization engaged in religious activities, unless the qualifying activities are unrelated to religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing;"
(2) your employer provides any of the following public services: emergency management; military service; public safety; law enforcement; public interest law servicesearly childhood education; public service forindividuals with disabilities and the elderly; public health; public education;public library services; and school library or other school-based services.
These definitions of eligible jobs reflect the Department of Education's final regulations for PSLF, as posted in the Federal Register on October 23, 2008.
What kinds of loans does it cover?  It covers federal Stafford, Grad PLUS, or consolidation loans as long as they are in the Direct Loan program. Borrowers with loans in the Guaranteed (or FFEL) loan program must switch to the Direct Loan program to get this benefit.
When does the 10-year clock start, and which payments count? Only payments made after October 1, 2007 count towards the 10 years (120 monthly payments, not necessarily consecutive) required for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Qualifying payments are payments made through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program in any of the following three repayment plans: the Income Contingent Repayment plan, the Standard (10-year) Repayment plan, and the Income-Based Repayment plan.
To count, these payments must be made while you're working full-time in an eligible job. "Full-time," according to the final regulations issued by the Department of Education, means an annual average of 30 hours per week or the standard for full-time used by the employer, whichever is greater. For people working part-time at two or more qualifying jobs, "full-time" means an annual average of 30 hours across all jobs held. In professions such as teaching, annual contracts that include at least eight months of full-time work will be treated as the equivalent of a full year's employment. If you meet all the criteria, the earliest your remaining debt could be forgiven is October 2017.
What if I've already paid off my loans by then? This loan forgiveness program will only benefit people who still owe money on their federal loans after 10 years of eligible payments and employment. If your income is low relative to your debt, and you qualify for reduced payments under IBR (or Income Contingent Repayment) at any time during those 10 years, you will likely have debt left to forgive. (Learn more about IBR.)

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