Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

'The Great Shame of Our Profession' How the humanities survive on exploitation

123578

Replies to: 'The Great Shame of Our Profession' How the humanities survive on exploitation

  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 7,350 Senior Member
    Not just regulations.

    Also the free market.

    Kid trips on a patch of ice coming home from a frat party. Drunk. It's February- so had the kid not been impaired, kid might have noticed the ice. But now the parents sue. This happens 10 times- you can bet the college is adding risk management folks and lawyers to its administration. Too costly to use outside counsel if you are getting sued all the time by the parents of drunk kids who dislocate an elbow falling down (it is February after all- and it's usually cold and icy in parts of the country).

    Bio or psych lab use mammals in their research. But a group from PETA who are not affiliated with the university protest regularly outside the president's house. Then they take it to the dean of the med school. Then they take it to a professor in the psych department. Now the U is hiring MORE security (and who can blame them- protecting their personnel and facilities is a core function of the administration). And a new "Director of Strategic Communications" to deal with non-university affiliated protests like this. And more risk management folks.

    Gator- would that it were only regulations. Regulations didn't require hiring 5 dieticians for food services where in our day there used to be 1. But you can't have the gluten free kids and the nut allergy kids all served from the same bowl. Regulations didn't require expanding the number of trainers, instructors and maintenance staff for your athletic department to serve the kids who AREN'T on a team but still expect high level athletic facilities. (Kids don't bring their own towels to the gym anymore- who knew? College gyms are expected to provide the same experience as Canyon Ranch).

    This sounds like the market to me- kids want, parents want, you don't provide it- they go elsewhere. Or sue you.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    "He gave up a tenure track job in order to write his book, so I would think he has a solid perspective on academia."

    On his website, he did not have a detailed vitae. It appears that there is no wikipedia page about him. It is therefore unclear whether he had been a ladder faculty member at any time. He stated that he was willing to give up a tenure track job for his book writing. It is possible that he was willing to take a lecturer job at Harvard, instead of a tenure track job OFFER at a lesser institution, and the affiliation with Harvard would make his work more visible and financially successful. I do not know his calculation. But it is possible that he has never been a ladder faculty member and thus only have perspectives on a subset of academia, i.e., only from a non-ladder faculty member's perspectives. I would thus not think he necessarily has a solid perspective on academia.

    I have been a ladder faculty member for almost 20 years. I stand by my earlier statement that at a typical research university, the ladder faculty earns their compensations largely (say 55%) from their scholarship/research/writing/performance. A ladder faculty member is required and expected to write and is assigned a certain percentage (say 55%) of his/her work time for it. And this has nothing to do whether adjuncts are hired. In addition, on a per course basis, the teaching compensation for a course between a tenure track faculty member and a non-tenure track faculty member is actually not that great.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    edited February 16
    Also, note that in many academic departments and schools, non-tenure track faculty members cannot sit in the unit's regular faculty meetings, and non-ladder faculty do not have votes. Departments and schools are run by top administrator(s) and the ladder faculty. Thus, there are a lot of things are unobservable to non-ladder faculty.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,353 Senior Member
    http://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/16-highest-paying-countries-for-doctors-314590/17/

    And consider the COL and net after taxes too. They may think they are upper class but reality says not so much--
  • jonrijonri Registered User Posts: 6,529 Senior Member
    I think many humanities professors would argue getting a PhD is an end in itself, an opportunity to study a field you love for a decade, and what impact it has on your career afterwards is secondary.

    I have never taken a survey, but I doubt it. The thing is....most people who get a PhD don't spend all of their time studying a field they love. They have to spend a lot of time doing other things: teaching very introductory courses--often to students who have almost no interest in them and spending time grading, at office hours, etc (not just for classes they teach, but for tenured profs); taking and reporting attendance (especially for international students); taking notes for students who get accommodations; going to conferences, hoping somebody will notice their poster; fact and typo checking papers written by others so they can get their names added as an author; trying to turn their theses into books and getting a university press to publish them, etc. Moreover, VERY few universities fund humanities PhDs for as many years as it takes to get one. Indeed, a LOT of universities pay lower stipends to humanities grad students than to the STEM folks.

    I applaud the MIT data @ucbalumnus posted. From looking at it, it is evident that even if you get your PhD at MIT, in some fields you are unlikely to end up with a teaching job. And, with the push for diversity, your chances of TT employment are particularly low if you are a white male.

    There are some programs that are more honest. I know one top school basically has a two tier track for PhDs in one field. Everyone enters at the same level. However, at the end of a couple of years, it culls the herd. Group 1 is essentially kicked out with a master's degree. Group 2 is told that if they want to quit with a master's they can. If they choose to stay and get a PhD, they can. However, they are not at the pinnacle and thus will not get the kind of recs that make getting a TT post possible. They are pushed through more quickly and usually get a PhD within 4 or at most 5 years. They go into industry, to work for government and NGOs, and in some cases, get teaching jobs at boarding schools. Only the tip top candidates are promised support for something like 7 years. The department spends a lot of time and energy supporting them--paying for them to attend conferences; making sure they have lots of publications, etc. In other words, it does what it can to give these candidates the best possible odds of getting a TT job.

    Lots of universities don't do that, though.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 10,895 Senior Member
    edited February 16
    I know one top school basically has a two tier track for PhDs in one field. Everyone enters at the same level. However, at the end of a couple of years, it culls the herd. Group 1 is essentially kicked out with a master's degree. Group 2 is told that if they want to quit with a master's they can. If they choose to stay and get a PhD, they can. However, they are not at the pinnacle and thus will not get the kind of recs that make getting a TT post possible. They are pushed through more quickly and usually get a PhD within 4 or at most 5 years. They go into industry, to work for government and NGOs, and in some cases, get teaching jobs at boarding schools. Only the tip top candidates are promised support for something like 7 years. The department spends a lot of time and energy supporting them--paying for them to attend conferences; making sure they have lots of publications, etc. In other words, it does what it can to give these candidates the best possible odds of getting a TT job.

    Princeton's graduate school has long had a 5 year limit on providing full fellowships for all admitted PhD students. If one hadn't finished by the 5th year, unless there were extenuating circumstances meriting an exception(Very rare),they leave it at the discretion of each department as to whether to allow such PhD students to continue without funding(They'd need to be funded by outside scholarships/fellowships or other sources of funding*) or to kick them out altogether**.

    * A friend who has been a math Prof at a small SE college for 15 years when I met him in the late '90s funded the last 4.5 years of his Princeton PhD by a mix of outside fellowships and secretly working as a busboy at a nearby country club

    ** This was exactly what ended up happening to an older college classmate's father at Princeton in a humanities/social science department when he failed to finish in 5 years. He ended up having to finish his PhD at another institution a tier or two down.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 28,451 Senior Member
    There have always been quite well paid lecturers at Harvard. For example my drawing teacher there was a permanent lecturer. Harvard was just too snooty to give him tenure though he was one of their best teachers. It's a little different from being adjunct faculty. If this guy is running the Writing Program, he's not the super exploited kind of adjunct prof.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,162 Senior Member
    mathmom wrote:
    There have always been quite well paid lecturers at Harvard. For example my drawing teacher there was a permanent lecturer. Harvard was just too snooty to give him tenure though he was one of their best teachers.

    UC has a lecturer faculty track for faculty whose primary duties are teaching; they are eligible for SOE ("security of employment") status that is like tenure for professors. But these lecturers appear to be uncommon compared to the usual professor track with substantial research duties.

    https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~ddgarcia/SOE.html
    http://apo.ucsc.edu/policy/capm/514.285 .html
  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 1,159 Senior Member
    Adjuncting is a great part-time job. But i don't think it was never meant to be a person's or a family's main source of income.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 9,259 Senior Member
    College Factual posts data on faculty composition, including data on adjuncts.
    Below are their figures for the percentage of teaching staff who are part-time non-faculty or non-tenure track faculty ("adjuncts") at a few schools.

    2% Amherst
    5% Duke
    6% Oberlin
    12% Princeton
    16% NC State
    17% Michigan
    23% UMCP, Penn State
    29% UCLA
    30% Alabama
    53% SUNY Buffalo
    66% CUNY-Hunter

    According to CF, the national average is 49.4%.
    I don't see sources or years for these numbers.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 7,350 Senior Member
    edited February 23
    These numbers don't mean much.

    Law schools (Michigan has, Buffalo has, Princeton does not....) use adjuncts to teach the professional responsibility classes, many of the specialty classes (maritime law for example). These are not underpaid part-timers- these are partners at well known law firms who teach for the joy of it and the intellectual stimulation. But they "count" as adjuncts. Same with business school faculty- I had some brilliant adjuncts teaching in my MBA program- but their "day job" was as SVP of Marketing for a consumer products company and they taught one evening a week. Again- they count as adjuncts to push up the percentage but Amherst doesn't have a B- school.

    These comparisons only work when you have actual data- i.e. percentage of students taught by adjuncts in undergraduate courses.
  • socalmom007socalmom007 Registered User Posts: 550 Member
    I don't know if I'd say it's a "great part time job", I could make more during my summers off from teaching high school working at starbucks. That's a little sad for people with a graduate degree and ample experience. A typical community college class I make $2250 gross.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 8,136 Senior Member
    @blossom I don't think college factual tracks grad programs at all, only undergrad.

    The definition of "adjunct" that they use:
    What Is An Adjunct?
    An adjunct is a teacher that has either no contract or a very short term contract for a single semester or year. These teachers often instruct only a single class or two at a given college and may have teaching or non-teaching jobs elsewhere. The term 'adjunct' can be used very loosely in academia, and many schools classify these instructors differently. To account for this difference, we use the total number of part-time non-faculty and non-tenure track faculty to represent the count of adjuncts for the college or university.


    Interesting idea to address issue raised in OP:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/01/adjuncts_in_american_universities_u_s_news_should_penalize_colleges_for.html - USNews should weight rank with % of adjuncts, they suggest.

    Older article about same: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/03/usnews
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,162 Senior Member
    I don't know if I'd say it's a "great part time job",

    It may be great for someone doing it as a side job or "extracurricular" while holding a primary job in something else, or someone who is mostly retired and wants something to do relating to his/her primary work field. This is probably more likely the case for specialty courses in law and business schools described in #72.

    But it looks rather unattractive for someone trying to piece together enough of them to earn a living using them as primary job(s).
Sign In or Register to comment.