Monday, August 27, 2012

Working Conditions for Higher Ed Faculty Really Suck

 This is a picture of a stagnant pool at some very badly managed construction site near Cincinnati. Unwise construction? 
Bad management? Sounds like higher education to me. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a very end-of-Augusty thing going on—its 

Almanac of Higher Education 2012, subtitled "The State of Academe,” in which their clerks and interns and junior executives (I'm guessing) present a bunch of stuff they published or republished in the past year.

Here's their view of themselves:

The Chronicle takes the measure of higher education in the 2012-13 Almanac, our annual compendium of college and university data. Choose a section below to start browsing.

Well, you can choose a section if you want, but be aware: it’s behind a paywall.

Oh well. You can see some of it. Like this:

Campus leaders and college professors encountered urgent calls for change in how they do business in 2011-12.
Economic and technological forces continued to reshape campus workplaces. Administrators closed and consolidated academic programs and had to rely increasingly on adjunct instructors, who now make up 70 percent of the professoriate. And leaders also face stagnation in their own ranks.

Let’s see, there are those “forces” again. They’re like earthquakes, or hurricanes, those things. But then, there are some attempts by humans—puny though they are in the face of “forces—and they have done a few things, like closing this and consolidating that. 

And don't forget, they're "facing" stagnation. That dull and sluggish, crew, that stale and inactive few? Yes, they’re facing stagnation?

Makes you wonder how that managed to do all that closing and consolidating, facing the forces as they were.

So how did they do it? Well, they just did what they've been doing for the last 40 years—"rely increasingly on adjunct instructors, who now make up 70 percent of the professoriate."

The CHE language about these "leaders" is that, even as they faced stagnancy in their own rank tribe—or something like that—they "had to rely" on us.

Oh, the poor feeble little things! I mean CHE and the Stagnant Ranks both. I mean, the system has been relying on us every year, for the past forty of them, "increasingly," though fat times and lean.

Please guys, take some time off. Read up. Try this-it’s a CHE article.* Don’t you read them? It will tell you something about “Professor Staff,” by which is meant the majority adjunct and contingent faculty that has been keeping higher education afloat—you rely on us!—for a couple decades.

Well, the CHE article’s ok*, as is the one in Inside Higher Education*, but better you should read the whole report, out from Campaign for the Future of Higher Education and based on research and analysis from The New Faculty Majority Foundation. 

That will help you find out what’s going on—what’s been going on—in higher ed, and while you’re at it read this as well—Debra Leigh Scott’s “How the American University was Killed in Five Easy Steps."

I could give you a link to a Forbes blog where Debra's very fine piece has been discussed and commented on, but I just don't feel like it. Sorry. Not in the mood. No, not now. I just feel too mad. Forbes doesn't work. For me. Right now. Well, maybe. Ok.* 

Look, join New Faculty Majority, will you? Membership in NFM may be your first step in fighting back against this “stagnant” and hardly “new” normal, or it may be an “adjunct” so to say, to your union membership, or your membership in other adcon activist groups. But find out about NFM, and join.

It’ll help build a face for all of us, nationally, so that “industry journalists” and “leaders” won’t keep wasting our time with dumb ideas—that it’s only been recently, for instance, that Higher Education has “had to” (or chooses to) “rely on” the exploitation of its majority faculty.

So, that’s your homework, and mine, and then we can all go back to school, teaching, grading, organizing, recruiting, advocating and challenging. 
* Here they are—I just stuck ‘em down here because, well, they’re ok, but they don’t need top billing either.