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

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

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,853 Senior Member
    Ugh, similar user names.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    edited February 25
    On the UCB administration website, it lists a total of 32 positions.

    http://www.berkeley.edu/about/administration

    Let us assume the average pay and benefit to this group is 700K (if you do not like 700k, change any number that you deem reasonable) each year. So the total is 22.4 million.

    The annual budget of UCB is about 2.5 billion. So we are talking about 0.9%, which is very close to the 1% that I provided.

    You are severely underestimating the costs of administration. See the following article about the price UC Berkeley is paying for the "Office of Equity and Inclusion."

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/New-head-of-campus-diversity-at-Cal-heading-for-2488805.php
    UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has just announced he's creating the new post of vice chancellor for equity and inclusion -- a job that not only has an impressive title, but an equally impressive salary of between $182,000 and $282,000 a year. Plus an office budget in excess of $4 million.

    The goal isn't so much to recruit more minorities but rather to ensure students, faculty and staff are "fully respected for their individuality and what they represent," Birgeneau said. Birgeneau said the aim is "to prize our diversity and learn from it and to appreciate people for being part of the whole but also for what they as individuals bring to Berkeley."

    This is money they could be spending on teachers instead of administrators, but as the following article illustrates, the University of California currently has more administrators than tenured or tenure track faculty.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-uc-spending-20151011-story.html
  • dfbdfbdfbdfb Registered User Posts: 2,744 Senior Member
    My faculty's union has just had a go-round of this with the university system administration—when the union asked for the salaries of administrators (not required to be listed publicly under state law, but subject to information requests), the administration limited their response to the top levels—chancellors and vice-chancellors and president and vice-presidents and provosts and vice-provosts, basically. It took quite a while to get them to provide all of the administrators (e.g., deans, campus directors, people with titles like associate vice-whatever, or assistant provost of somesuch).

    If you're basing your assumptions about the costs of administration on what's listed as an administrator on a website, well, you're not really learning much about it.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 484 Member
    @Zinhead The example you cited has annual salary of 182-282k a year. My assumption was 700k salary + benefits a year, which is much higher than 182-282k salary. And you said I severely underestimated it? I do not get it.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    @prof2dad - You cited a total of 32 administrators. There are more than 10,500 administrators in the UC system. That is an average of more than 1,050 per campus.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 484 Member
    @dfbdfb If you are not happy about the way my university and UCB define their (top) administration, it is fine; you have all the freedom to define your version of administration. It is just that I can think of at least 4 staffs in my business school who have a fancy title, somethings like "director" or "vice-whatever" (so that it is easier for them to go out to raise money, etc.), and their pay is less than 70k a year. I just do not think they are at the level of being a part of administration because they are in no way my supervisor and their work is actually to support my research and teaching.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 534 Member
    Back to the original topic, who are these exploited adjuncts who weren't capable of running a 30 minute google search on tenure track job prospects before entering grad school?
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 484 Member
    edited February 25
    @Zinhead if you read it carefully, I made it quite clear from the beginning that it is about top administrators at the level of president, VPs, provost, vice-provosts, and deans. The number of this group is usually around 20-40 depending on the size of the university.

    The need to separate this group from the staffs is that, as I stated earlier, the criticism from the faculty is concentrated on the proliferation of these top administrators. But the reality is that the proliferation at lower-ranked staffs is actually more of a main driver of budget and tuition because the number of lower-ranked staffs is far more than that of top administration. Another reason for this separation is that the pay between top administrators and staffs is very different. It makes no economical sense to lump them together if one really wants to get to the bottom of it.

    I have been in faculty union negotiation meetings with the top administrators a few times. I know the union has to fight with the administrators using the top administrators' proliferation as a leverage; we did it all the times. It has been a good strategic move, but it has little to do with the truthfulness of our argument. In this kind of fights, it is more important to get a good deal, instead of getting to the bottom of it.
  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard Registered User Posts: 1,014 Senior Member
    A number of good points have been made about administrative bloat and the "adjunctivization" of academia. Coup;e these with the fact that the liberal arts in general -- and the humanities in particular -- have gotten a bum rap in today's world (I would go as far as to say that these subjects have been vilified of late as witnessed by the title and premise of this post).

    Given that one of the criteria used for gauging school success is looking at the "return on investment" in the years immediately after completion of undergraduate studies, humanities and liberal arts majors often don't have salaries that are as high as their counterparts that have obtained "pre-professional" and "professional" degrees such as engineering, computer science, business, etc. While the latter group might fare better on these ROI measures than those that have majored in the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences, if one looks at both groups' respective salaries 15 or 20 years down the line, humanities majors do just fine, thank you very much.

    The problem as I see it is not that there are too many PhDs in the humanities being minted, but rather that humanities programs are, as discussed above, hiring adjuncts and "highway fliers" at a fraction of the cost of tenured and tenure track professors, and that universities are not able to replace tenured faculty as they retire. Departments see enrollment dwindling, which creates a vicious cycle. I predict that the pendulum will one day swing back as we realize that we have generations of students graduating college that cannot read or write well and that don't have sufficient critical thinking or rhetorical skills to make logical and persuasive arguments.

    Data regarding administrative bloat at the UCs show that the biggest problems are not necessarily at the top levels of administration, but rather at mid-level management levels. @prof2dad's figures are supported by an article in the LA Times, wherein among other things, they note:

    "While big paychecks for those in UC's senior management group — including the president, the chancellors and other top administrators — attract the most attention, they comprise less than 1% of the $27-billion budget, officials say. It is the next layer of well-paid administrators that has grown most significantly over the last two decades. From 2004 to 2014, the management and senior professionals ranks swelled by 60%, to about 10,000, UC data show.

    "There is a huge cadre of middle managers and upper middle managers, and that is where the bloat is," said Charles Schwartz, a UC Berkeley physics professor who retired in 1993 and has spent much of his time since then crunching the budget and issuing a series of sharp critiques.

    Administrators now outnumber tenure-track faculty members, whose ranks, over the same decade, grew by just 8%, from 8,067 to 8,722, and have not kept pace with rising enrollment.

    As more of the teaching burden has shifted to adjunct and part-time instructors, students say their face time with tenured professors has shrunk and their class sizes have grown."

    And so it goes....

    Here's the article:

    http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-uc-spending-20151011-story.html


  • bookguybookguy Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    @roethlisburger - your point brings out one of the complications of the adjunct situation. By now a lot of people entering humanities Phds are told about the lack of tenure-track jobs. At the very least, the pressure builds in the first two years when graduate students see themselves in a highly competitive environment with not too many job prospects, other than working as adjunct instructors. Still, many remain and try to be the exception or ultimately make do by teaching courses here and there. Also, the pay for an adjunct course can vary depending on the institution, upwards of $6-7K in some places, although that tends to be major universities. I think some places pay in the low $2Ks. Some people choose to keep it going for years and even make a career of it. No big money and very little job security, but the alternative might be a job in an office 40 hours a week. Still, universities could be more supportive by offering adjuncts full-time teaching (or a good number of courses) and health care (some do).
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,853 Senior Member
    edited February 25
    Given that one of the criteria used for gauging school success is looking at the "return on investment" in the years immediately after completion of undergraduate studies, humanities and liberal arts majors often don't have salaries that are as high as their counterparts that have obtained "pre-professional" and "professional" degrees such as engineering, computer science, business, etc. While the latter group might fare better on these ROI measures than those that have majored in the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences, if one looks at both groups' respective salaries 15 or 20 years down the line, humanities majors do just fine, thank you very much.

    There was this page that shows surveyed mid career pay percentiles by college major, though it has obvious limitations by the nature of the survey (though better than random anecdotes of "X got a BA/BS in ___ and later became a CEO" or "Y got a BA/BS in ___ and never was able to get a career track job"): http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-Degrees_that_Pay_you_Back-sort.html .

    For pretty much all college majors, the top end (90th percentile) ended up being paid well. But some majors are relatively flatter, with the lower percentiles do reasonably well (e.g. nursing, physician assistant), while others are very unequal, with the lower percentiles doing poorly (e.g. music, art history, anthropology, philosophy), implying that graduates are more likely to be in winner-take-all job markets. These do not seem to be all that surprising.
  • sorghumsorghum Registered User Posts: 3,138 Senior Member
    Humanities PhDs should become university administrators.
  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,009 Senior Member
    "Tenured -- or tenure-track -- computer science professors are so cutting-edge their work is DECADES ahead of not just the classroom, but also the industry."

    Lol. It depends.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 6,863 Senior Member
    Re post #133, well, the good ones are that cutting edge.

    On the question of the increase in the number of administrators: At my university, I would estimate that the number of high-level administrators, including the president, vice-presidents, . . . to assistant vice presidents has gone up by about 50% in the past 10 years. The salary budget for the dean's office within my college (one part of the university) has more than doubled in that period. Part of this is a proliferation of assistant deans. Part of it is just more staff.

    There has been a slight decline in the number of faculty at the university--by maybe 10% or so in the last 20 years. However, the number of "Administrative Professionals" has more than doubled in the same time frame. This number used to be half of the faculty number. Now it is equal to the number of faculty. It is true that many of the Administrative Professionals do not make especially high salaries, but when 1000+ people are added in a job category, it tends to drive the budget and costs up.
  • MastadonMastadon Registered User Posts: 1,141 Senior Member
    Tenured -- or tenure-track -- computer science professors are so cutting-edge their work is DECADES ahead of not just the classroom, but also the industry. They do the theory on which the practice will someday be based. If you want a TOP computer science department, you certainly don't want adjuncts knowledgeable in computers. You want SCIENTISTS.

    @katliamom, @QuantMech

    Harvard is generally considered to be toward the theoretical end of the computer science spectrum. As part of a recent initiative to bolster their department, they have hired six new professors.

    Their three most senior hires (all full professors with named appointments) are from industry. One worked for MIcrosoft in the Boston area and was also an adjunct professor at MIT, another worked for Microsoft in the Boston area, and one worked for Microsoft in Silicon Valley.

    Their third most senior hire (an associate professor) is from Microsoft

    Of their two most junior hires (both assistant professors) one is from industry (a post doc fellow at Facebook) and one is from academia (post doc at MIT)

    In the field of computers there is a very close relationship between the leading edge computer development companies (not IT companies) and academia. People and ideas readily flow back and forth across the boundary with some top people straddling the boundary as adjuncts.

    Top departments typically have a mix of "Lecturers" (people who are great at teaching), "Professors of Practice" or "Adjuncts" (who can bridge the gap between theory and "state of the art" practice) as well as Professors doing leading edge research that can translate that research into the classroom.

    This gives schools located in a "computer development hub" (such as SIlicon Valley, Boston or Seattle) an advantage because industry research labs can be tapped to teach some leading edge courses.

    No one should want to send their kids to a school where the professors research is "decades ahead" of their classroom teaching because by definition their kid will derive no benefit from the research going on in that environment.

    Computer Science is not a great example for this thread, because (at least at this moment) it is one of the few areas of academia that is having a hard time finding enough people.






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