Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Ok, I admit to a bit of dead horse beating here, but what the hell?

How can this horse be dead? Where's the work ethic anymore?

President Obama had at least one good joke to begin his address at the Morehouse College commencement this morning: 
I know some of you had to wait in long lines to get into today’s ceremony. I would apologize, but it didn’t actually have anything to do with security. These graduates just wanted you to know what it’s like to register for classes.
Ha ha. Really. I like it.  

Didn't say anything about adjunct faculty, though, which, while it isn't funny, is important if you’re like me in thinking that the ongoing enfeebling of the nation's faculty is the real problem with higher education. 

Not funny at all.

President Obama did have a few words going on about responsibility, leaning on some remarks by Benjamin Mays, Morehouse president from 1940 to 1967, noting that the college should aim to produce graduates "who are sensitive to the wrongs, the sufferings, and the injustices of society and who are willing to accept responsibility for correcting [those] ills.”

"Live up to President Mays’ challenge," U.S. President Obama urged.  "Some of you may be headed to medical school to become doctors. But make sure you heal folks in underserved communities who really need it, too."

That was a prelude to softsell marketing of Obamacare. Obamacare? I’m a fan, in principle, but did the President take what was a golden opportunity, at Morehouse this morning, to point out that some unscrupulous employees—that’s probably a zillion colleges and universities, unfortunately, have been using Obamacare as an excuse to further injure the livelihoods and lives of America’s majority faculty?

No. Why did I even ask?

And, by the way, President Obama didn't say anything at all to any of Morehouse men who might be thinking about a career in high ed.

There must have been some. I wonder if they were thinking about the majority higher education faculty in this country—the faculty that already, being the "super-majority" in the community colleges and "lesser tier" 4-year colleges, knows quite a lot about serving "folks in underserved communities." A shame the current President, of the United States, seems so unaware of that.

Now, also get you to the Hofstra AAUP adjunct site, which has a very good post. 

And go comment-here's mine:
Hi folks-thanks for posting this. It’s a shame isn’t it, that we weren’t able to mobilize even more noise around this classically hideous example of institutional inequity, but at least we got some of it going. I tried to find some sort of info on whether or not there would be higher ed union or other supremos at this event– some published itineraries perhaps, of leadership types who might have been in the good seats– with a view to doing a twitter thing and twitting them for their fecklessness in the face of an obvious pr opportunity…but ran out of gas, not least of all because I had to/still have to, write a new final exam for a new course… To give tomorrow. But, again, it’s great to see this post, thanks.
And, of course, also visit the New Faculty Majority Blog, which has all manner of current adcon news going on-Thank you, Vanessa!

And then get to the New Faculty Majority Facebook page as well.

I really think the White House should be all tied with adcon tweets and so-forth...don't you?


May 16, 2013  Ok, I'm sorry. I was wrong. 

So this crow was just helping me out, ok? Nothing bad happened to this crow.

And here is a comment from Kathleen Rand Reed, in which she explains the whole misunderstanding:
I spoke with Karen Miller, Chief of Staff, for President John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., at Morehouse and several other knowledgeable persons.  No slight was intended toward the adjuncts.  Usually the "full-time" faculty sits on the stage during commencement. Normally, some members of the faculty are not present --whether away on a vacation, choice not to come, whatever the reason.  This time because of the historic significance of the President speaking at a commencement--in Georgia, at Morehouse an HBCU, etc, almost every faculty member this side of Alabama and any other state wants to be and plans to be on that stage in full regalia.  This situation left a full stage, issues  around fire codes, no room for everyone on stage, security and the like.  Morehouse goes out of its way as an institution to teach its students "compassion, civility, integrity and even listening".  They are not about to go back on that commitment to its students, its faculty (all of its faculty) and the public and especially POTUS. Please do not project onto a revered institution some malevolent intent when the full story has not been told.
Let's hear a loud round of applause for the Morehouse coup of having Obama as the commencement speaker.  Wow!
I know, right? Wow. Now I'll have to eat that crow, probably with egg on my face. Disgusting.

See, Dr. Reed seems to be a nice person, and an anthropologist too, so I’m sure she knows that the American Anthropological Association, through its association with Coalition for theAcademic Workforce, for instance, is VERY SERIOUS about raising the profile of adjunct and contingent faculty.

And, furthermore, she’s clearly someone who commands respect within the academic establishment, because I found a recent post of hers, for instance, on the  "BLOG OF ACADEMEMAGAZINE," where I also read that "OPINIONS PUBLISHED HERE DO NOT REPRESENT THE POLICIES OF THE AAUP."

What a minute! What’s wrong here! Yes, I knew it! I knew the AAUP wouldn't stick up for the excluded adjuncts down at Morehouse College! And where’s AFT, come to think of it! Or NEA!

Are you kidding me!  Shame! Shame!

So, glad I could clear that up. I have three grading deadlines on me. Gotta go.

May 13, 2012 -- Hi there—you may not be able to read this very good article by Peter Schmidt in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education, because it’s behind a paywall, but you can read it below because, well, I’m not sure, but somehow it just appeared here.
BTW, Morehouse College doesn’t have THAT many adcon faculty-only 50 or so (half are part-timers), so you’d think that seats wouldn’t be THAT hard to come up with….
(That’s all for now: I am still grading 24 gazillion tests and papers—Alan Trevithick)

[Update (5/15/2013, 11:15 a.m.): Morehouse College announced on Wednesday that adjunct faculty members would each receive one ticket to be in the audience at the commencement ceremony because additional tickets became available after students’ ticket needs were met. The adjuncts will not, however, be able to sit with full-time faculty members on the stage.]

The original CHE article did not feature this poignant illustration, by the way, and, also, not all adjunct/contingent faculty dress like this. I do, of course, but I'm hardly putting myself out there as representative. Many of us who routinely get kicked to the curb in this way manage to do so in a a stylish, indeed, elegant, manner.

Despite all the time they spend in its classrooms, part-time faculty members at Morehouse College are at risk of being kept away on Sunday when President Obama delivers this year's commencement address on the campus green.
Faced with overwhelming demand for seats at the event and the security concerns associated with a presidential visit, the historically black private college decided in February to deny tickets to its roughly 50 part-time faculty members. It has since reversed itself to the extent that it is at least trying to find a way to let adjuncts attend, but Elise Durham, a Morehouse spokeswoman, said on Tuesday that "we just don't know yet" if that will be possible. "We are making every effort to do what we can," she said.
The Atlanta institution clearly is dealing with exceptional circumstances surrounding the first appearance of a sitting U.S. president to deliver one of its commencement addresses. Nevertheless, its decision to deny tickets to its part-time faculty—while seating full-timers onstage—is being perceived by some national advocates for adjunct instructors as emblematic of how colleges often give that population second-class treatment when it comes to inclusion in campus events or access to campus facilities.
"It is so common for adjuncts to be excluded from things," Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, said on Tuesday. She said even those adjunct faculty members who hold full-time jobs outside academe, and therefore are not as unhappy with their pay and benefits as adjuncts who try to make a living by teaching, "will get very upset about these kinds of exclusions, because they are an insult and they are disrespectful."
"This is just more of the same," said Debra Leigh Scott, who teaches part time at Temple University and is co-producing the documentary Junct: The Trashing of Higher Ed. in America. Calling adjuncts "the invisible people" on college campuses, she said, "It is not at all surprising that the administration would make a decision to further erase the existence of adjuncts at this type of thing."
The Chronicle was unable to reach any Morehouse adjuncts on Tuesday afternoon who were willing to talk about their exclusion from the commencement ceremony, first reported last week in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But Keith Hollingsworth, a professor of business who is chairman of the college's Faculty Council, said, "They are not happy, of course. I don't think that is a big secret."
"Normally," Mr. Hollingsworth said, "we have a very open graduation ceremony," with seats in the front reserved for students and their families but others open to anyone who wanted to attend. "This is the first time we have had to restrict it," he said. "The whole emphasis is to try to have as many tickets for the students as possible."
Ms. Maisto said that at some colleges commencements pose a much different problem for adjuncts because they are required to attend the events without being reimbursed for their time.
At Morehouse, President Obama's scheduled appearance at the commencement has generated high demand for seats, security concerns limiting the number of seats available, and an exceptional level of scrutiny for the college. Morehouse's president, John S. Wilson Jr., already has come under criticism for reducing the role played in its graduation ceremonies by the Rev. Kevin R. Johnson, a Morehouse alumnus who leads a Baptist church in Philadelphia and had recently criticized President Obama in an essay in The Philadelphia Tribune.
In past years, Morehouse had set out about 10,000 seats for its commencement, with no ticket requirements, and let about 3,000 additional people stand in the back. This year, for security reasons, it has had to remove a section of seats, reducing the number available to 9,500, and to require everyone in attendance to have a ticket. It has offered one ticket each to its 170 full-time faculty members, who will have to go through background checks before being seated onstage; one ticket each to members of its staff; and 12 tickets to each of its students.
Ms. Maisto of New Faculty Majority said the situation at Morehouse is an example of how adjuncts "are often reminded of our status" by being given inferior treatment, even when equal treatment would not cost the college any additional money. "It is as much about academic culture as it is about economics," she said, "maybe even more so."