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by Edward Kazarian and Leigh M. Johnson A little over two years ago, more than 600 philosophers petitioned the American Philosophical Association to “produce a code of conduct and a statement of professional ethics for the academic discipline of Philosophy.” The immediate motivation for the petition was several high-profile cases... Continue reading
Thank you for this, Gordon, for the words of your original post and for reposting it here and calling attention to the way that our institutions' are narrowing the definition of acceptable critical and scholarly engagement.
Worth noting here that the concern over the credit rating, besides the whole 'emulate the corporate world' thing, almost surely stems from the fact that institutions are much more leveraged than they have been previously. All this debt funded construction creates a situation in which university operating budgets actually *are* dependent on credit ratings. Of course, if we started asking about the prestige economies that are driving this sort of construction, in a search for students who can pay the tuition that both public and even more private institutions depend on, there's a whole range of factors that have contributed to the establishment of these economies, from US News style rankings on down. But given the degree to which these sorts of prestige factors do seem to condition where the 'good' customers go, we end up in a situation where administrators chase them, take on institutional debt to do so, and tie themselves to the credit market. And once that cycle gets started, it even becomes possible, if you take a short enough view, to see the 'rationale' for the perpetual squeeze of faculty labor. The fact that they're making the profession unviable will only start to matter when and if they can't staff their institutions -- and while they may not get enough scabs to make the lockout work, I'm a long way from convinced that there is yet a real shortage of staff more broadly.
by Ed Kazarian As I remarked on Facebook yesterday, there is a lot of spectacular mendacity involved in the current crisis at Mount Saint Mary's Unviersity. As of yesterday, the University's provost has been forced to resign, and two faculty members have been summarily fired, one a tenured associate professor... Continue reading
Thank you so much for putting all of this together, Carolyn. Your work on all of this is important and very much appreciated.
As is being widely reported, Steven Salaita has settled with UIUC, which has agreed to pay him $875,000 (some of which will resolve his legal fees). The press release from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented Prof. Salaita, is here. A bit more detail about the trustees' meeting... Continue reading
To add, I'm also having a hard time with the idea that if they reported FTEs for folks like adjuncts that this would move the needle all that much. Assuming a 4/4 load as FT, most places around here would still be paying their adjuncts no more than about $32k/yr. Obviously, that fluctuates a bit, but given the sheer size of the Philadelphia metro academic labor market, and the prevalence of adjunct labor within it, I cannot see how an accurate count of adjuncts wouldn't push a mean number way below $71k. If this is right, there simply has to be undercounting. It's possible that adjunct pay rates are significantly higher in other parts of the country than I realize, but what I saw when the adjunct project data was still public in a big spreadsheet didn't lead me to think so. Again, unless I've missed new sources of this kind of information, we just don't have very good data on this (adjunct project is now basically useless for trying to generate overview types of data, alas).
Not confusing, but assuming that we're talking about mean values here. If they're reporting a median value as if it's useful information about what people are making, then they're even more ridiculous than I thought they were.
A former student of mine pointed out on Facebook that BLS methodology is extremely problematic for postsecondary educators, in particular. He said a bit more in a technical register that I didn't quite understand, but I suspect that it may be similar to some of what you pick up on here. In any case, to the extent that this is based on university reporting, I'm betting it involves a considerable amount of undercounting, b/c they have this great tendency to drop adjunct faculty from any reports about 'faculty salaries.' Though really, as you say, the sources of all this remain obscure -- and that is pretty commonplace. We get these numbers that don't seem to correspond to any reality that our acquaintance with the institution would reveal, and no real explanation of how they were arrived at. And this is the state of workplace data about the academy.
Yeah, there's a lot of stuff being circulated. Some of it is comparing mid-career salaries of people with philosophy degrees and mid-career salaries of welders. I'm not sure that's an apples to apples comparison (how about comparing people who completed some sort of vocational training as a welder to people who completed philosophy degrees), but it's better than the other one, which does use a Bureau of Labor Statistics figure of $71k as the average salary for people working as teachers of philosophy. As for Rubio's remarks. I've only got them second hand, and the point of my post isn't to comment on the value of programs that provide vocational training or make it widely and easily accessible to folks who need it. I'm inclined to support that in general, though how it were done would be important to me. I would, for instance, be very concerned with possible credential inflation (requiring degrees or certifications for access to work that historically has not required them) and the corresponding extension of student debt into new areas of the workforce. I have little doubt, having said all of that, that Rubio was doing anything other than grandstanding. And in any case, my point wasn't about Rubio, but about how we in the profession are talking amongst ourselves and to the broader public about the economic situation of professional philosophers. Which, in this case, is repeating the same erasure of actual working conditions of many if not most working philosophers that I've been writing about for some time here.
Several folks in last night's Republican presidential debate, including Marco Rubio, apparently decided to use philosophy as a foil for some of their typically ridiculous claims about education. In response, lots of people are citing an average salary for people working as professional philosophers — sometimes attributed to the Bureau... Continue reading
Hi David, no doubt that would be the justification. In some cases, it might even be true -- or true as part of a larger systemic effort that included building projects, a concerted attempt to change the demographic the school was appealing to, etc. In fact, part of what I think is going on in the US is that many schools, especially as public funding shrinks, are trying more and more energetically to compete for one pool of 'ideal' applications -- reasonably wealthy domestic or foreign students who can largely pay their own way without substantial Financial Aid subsidies or tuition discounting -- and so they're trying to find ways of appealing to these folks (with things like branding programs, ambitious building programs aimed largely a student life amenities, etc.). The thing is, some -- or maybe a lot -- of this is just pure pie in the sky fantasy, even if the buildings get built. There aren't *that many* of those students, and the vast majority of them are still going to head to the already established high prestige institutions that their money (and the education that money has already purchased them) gains them access to. Meanwhile, the rest of these institutions are tying themselves increasingly to long-term debt-financed obligations, and so becoming subservient to credit ratings that are determined by expected future tuition revenue -- and student numbers are actually beginning to decline at a lot of places. And a lot of it is also just pure copycat spending. Your state flagship isn't suddenly going to find its enrollments collapsing b/c it doesn't devote every waking hour to rebranding itself every other year. The same is true for the big public university in a major city. These places have well-established institution niches that are pretty stable. Changing those quickly is way more expensive than serving them well, and expanding them in at a more moderate pace. So if this were all really about figuring out a plan for long term institutional viability (including ensuring stable tuition revenues), I'd argue that the move should have been -- and still should be -- to cultivate the quality of the faculty, by hiring more of them, on better contracts, and supporting them better in their engagement with students. Doing so would certainly represent a more substantial commitment to the basic mission of education, and to the whole existing student population -- rather than just the ideal population of rich folks they think they can attract with slick ads and fancy dorms with marble countertops in the bathrooms (that's not a made up example).
It occurred to me, in the midst of a conversation where folks were marveling at the money being spent by a flagship state university on a marketing initiative, that it should, at this juncture,* be possible to formulate a very simple test for evaluating the wisdom of this and other... Continue reading
There is probably an interesting post to be written on the moral standing of the scapegoat — on whether, that is, being put in the position to take a disproportionate share of the blame for something, or even simply to shield other guilty parties from blame, entitles one to claim... Continue reading
Yesterday brought two major developments relating to Steven Salaita's firing by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. First came the news that the U.S. District Court in Chicago ruled to uphold the validity all of Steven Salaita's key legal claims, rejecting the University's motion to dismiss them. This does not... Continue reading
I'm just going to lay down the following ground rule for discussion on this thread: I won't publish anonymous or pseudonymous comments without valid email addresses attached, especially if the person making them is also making claims we're supposed to accept on the authority of their experience (nice try, Bob Roberts). If you want to say something here, especially if you want to claim that you know whereof you speak, you should be willing to say it under your own name.
Readers of New APPS may recall Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman as the author of a powerful piece last March in Times Higher Education that drew attention to the discipline of philosophy’s overall, systemic failure to critically engage its own Whiteness. And now, DailyNous draws our attention to a piece in... Continue reading
Readers may recall that last December we co-hosted an open letter in opposition to a draconian law that had been instituted in Macedonia, substantially abridging the autonomy the country's universities (more info here). The letter ended up with more than 100 signatures, of which more than 50 came through New... Continue reading
I'm not sure which inference you mean, David. I listed two claims, neither of which involved any inference beyond what was explicitly evident.
Hi David, To approve a comment posing a certain question in a thread devoted to discussing 'issues in the profession' is to indicate one's willingness to host a discussion of that question, so constructed, as an 'issue in the profession.' Our contention is, as we stated very directly above, that this gesture by itself is problematic. Further, Brian's further comments, quoted above, make it quite clear that he *does* approve of the question. So no inference from merely posting it is necessary to get there. There are, in other words, no hidden principles informing the post. There is no unstated framework. What you see is what you get.
Hi Catarina, Thanks for that link. I'm going to avoid editing the OP, content-wise, since so many people have been signing onto it.
So Brian has decided, in his latest “issues in the profession” thread, to recognize the following question as worthy of note and discussion: AnonUntenured said... Can someone explain the Leigh Johnson mystery:
How do you go from apparent tenure denial at one obscure college to a tenure-track job at another... Continue reading
Thanks, everyone, for your signatures and your support. Todd May has sent a first iteration of the letter to the addressees a few minutes ago with all the signatures above included. As more signatures accumulate, we will be sure to send updates, so others should feel free to sign onto the letter if they wish.
The following open letter in support of the autonomy of the universities of the Republic of Macedonia was originally drafted by Todd May for the purposes of being circulated and gaining additional signatories. It is being published here with the names of its current subscribers. Those who wish to add... Continue reading
Thanks Mark. That's a good point. I'm working on getting that info. Will update as I learn more.