Monday, August 31, 2009

Brynn From Beekmantown On "Balls? Balls!" and Adjunct Pay.

At the end of Spring semester, I broke down in front of my students and cried. It was the last class, and I started to meltdown while giving my usual course wrap-up in front of the students in my 11:00 class. It was pretty strange. The class itself was not to blame for my tears. They had been just fine. No student had triggered the tears. But, believe me, the crying was embarrassing for me and for the class, and it definitely was not the way I wanted the semester to end. I wondered if I was having some sort of nervous breakdown.

In six years of adjuncting, I had never cried in front of a class before. No matter how bad it got. But after I read "Celia Monahan's" post about discovering that her adjunct pay was the same as her student's work study pay, I stopped feeling so bad about the tears last semester.

I've known for a while that I'm only making about $12.00 an hour as an adjunct. And I've known that loads of people on campus with far less demanding jobs make as much or more than I do -- even the work study students. I've even applied for some of those jobs, only to be turned down as far too overqualified. In fact, in the past four years, I have applied for eleven non-teaching jobs on campus and have only made it to the interview stage once. I wanted to know why I wasn't making the cut and was told that they just didn't need someone with a Ph.D to do the work.

So, semester after semester, I've soldiered on. Not only is it hard to pay the bills on adjunct pay, it's hard to deal with the reality that virtually everyone else on campus is making more money and has better job security. Psychologically, it's hard to be a good teacher while being so underpaid.

Celia's post puts it all out in the open. Adjunct pay is shit. How humiliating to find out that an undergrad working at the fitness center, passing out balls, is getting the same paycheck as an adjunct with a Ph.D. If I'm not out of academe next semester, please come shoot me. After the tears, after reading Celia's post, I just can't do this any more.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Balls? Balls! One Proffie's Terrible Paycheck Realization.

At the state uni where I teach, part-timers and work study student get paychecks in distinctive colored envelopes. I don't know when or why this started this way, but they get generated in some massive office somewhere and distributed through campus mail. It's an imperfect system, of course, and in the three years I've been a part-timer here, I've gotten the wrong envelope a couple of times. I see the wrong name, stick it back in the mail, and wait for mine to come back around to me.

Well this semester I have a student with the same last name, someone who I actually see once a week or so at one of our fitness rooms. I won't tell you what our real names are, but let's say her name is Cindy Monahan, and my name is Celia Monahan. As a Fitness Room "assistant," Cindy sits behind a counter, plays Sudoku and Farm Town on the computer, hands out those giant fitness balls to the braver exercisers, scoops up towels occasionally. Mostly she seems to talk on her phone and watch one of the giant TVs hanging from the ceiling.

I teach 2 classes a semester here because there's a huge pool of available PhDs and many of them have a lot more seniority than I do. Of course full timers here teach 2-2, just like me, but that's another story.

So I get my first semester paycheck, and I open it up and the first thing I see is the SS# is wrong. And of course I see the first name is Cindy and not Celia. I've got my student's paycheck. Not a big deal, right?

Anyway, on a hunch I take her paycheck to class and ask her if she maybe got mine by mistake. She pulls the envelope out of her backpack and walks up to the front of the room. I see it's torn open and when we switch envelopes she says (too loudly), "Dr.'s so weird. I make almost the same amount as you!"

I look at hers, which she's holding up: $510.00 gross for the first two weeks, $12.75 an hour! I look down at mine: two classes at $2100 a class over 8 pay periods = $525 gross.

I make $7.50 more a week than my student, who spends 20 hours a week handing out BALLS! She spends her time with her feet up in a fitness room (with free fruit juice, Internet, cable, phone, and extremely limited duties). And meanwhile I'm prepping and reading and grading and lecturing, and I have a kid and a student loan, and a Ph.D.

Do you think the college would have a problem with me applying for that fitness room job next year?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We're Just Bawling Over Kooky Kutie. And So Are Readers.

Kooky, how can I put this delicately?

Grow the fuck up. I'd have given you one breakdown in front of a professor- everyone's a freshman at one point, right? But when things go awry with "a professor or three," that's a good indication that rather than being a "nutty type A" with bad luck, you're a whiny loser who can't get her butt in gear.

You didn't email your professor after missing class because you didn't want to bug her? That means one of two things: either you waste her time constantly with frivolous emails, or you miss class so often you were embarrassed to own up to it again. Both of these indicate a consistent lack of maturity and professionalism, particularly in someone taking a graduate class. Real grad students don't miss class, period. If, through some cosmic misfortune, they happen to lose the use of both legs and can't quite manage to drag themselves into their car and drive with their hands on the pedals, they will certainly at least have the decency to contact their professor.

The worst thing in your hippy-drippy drivel is your plan to address your obvious shortcomings: "I can only hope that I'll become a good enough art historian that no one cares that I'm a hot bed of hormones." Listen, little Miss Snowflake, you'll never be a good enough anything if you don't start acting like an adult. No one wants to hire a researcher who can't meet deadlines or a teacher who can't show up to class, no matter how much talent and skill you've got. I can't imagine anyone wanting to date someone like that either, creepy professors on eHarmony notwithstanding.

And don't think you can get away with angsty tween behavior because there's proffies out there who pull the same crap; their lack of professionalism in no way excuses yours. If you're really upset about professors staring down your blouse, though, you might try dressing like a professional instead of a tramp. This is grad school, not a sorority mixer.

If it makes you feel better, Kooky, I was once a student much like you- unmotivated, absent, late to class. Then I finished school by the skin of my teeth and got a job, and now I'm enrolled in an grad program. The difference between now and then? I quit making excuses and started acting like an adult. I hope you'll find it in you to do the same.


If KK thinks that she's not deliberately manipulative, then she's an even bigger mess than she professes to be -- and it's not because she may or may not be "a hotbed of hormones," which is, quite frankly, insulting to anyone else who may be a hotbed of hormones and who manages to keep his or her collective shit together long enough not to inflict emotional (and probably verbal) abuse on those he or she encounters daily.

KK wrote, "Anyway, hopefully you get my point." Oh, I get her point. She thinks it's perfectly fine to ignore her responsibility to follow up on her absence, thereby missing the time change for her final exam. She thinks it's perfectly fine to deprive herself of sleep for 46 hours to cram for an exam for which she couldn't be bothered to prepare as the semester progressed.

She thinks it's perfectly fine to inflict her meltdown on her unsuspecting professor as said professor is leaving her office. She thinks it's perfectly fine to blame her own instability on her gender.

Such self-proclaimed "emotional needy, type-A-kooky, nutty" snowflakes who melt "if something goes awry" are the kinds of emotional vampires that drive good, caring, professional teachers like me and many of my colleagues to the nearest bottle. Because of Kooky Kutie and her ilk, we write longer syllabi outlining acceptable student behavior. We limit our contact with students to required office hours. We bolt to the faculty parking lot the back way to avoid seeing high-maintenance underachievers. We look for the sort of release-from-teaching work that we said we'd never take when we began our careers because we hate administrative bullshit -- the kind of bullshit that we hate, apparently, just a little less than our increasing exposure to Kutie and her kooky kind.

I love to teach. Seriously. Even after 20 years, much of it spent at a community college, I still love to teach. What I don't love at all is emotional manipulation. (If I enjoyed it, I'd still be married to Needy Ned, a rant for another time and a different blog, perhaps..)

KK urges us "all try to respect each other and enjoy the experience as much as possible." What KK wants is indulgence rather than respect, so that SHE can enjoy her experience as much as possible.

I'd prefer it if KK and so many like her would learn to respect boundaries, learn to respect their teachers, learn how to act in public. And if KK can't, she can help me enjoy my own experience -- an idea to which she clearly has given no thought -- by dropping my class or avoiding anything I teach altogether.

I'm sure that other students -- those who don't make their crises everyone else's crises -- would enjoy their experiences more with fewer Kooky Kuties around, too.


Kooky Kutie is correct that real tears aren't voluntary. But bawling in front of your professor is completely voluntary. If you find yourself doing so, at least have the grace to say that you need a moment to pull yourself together before you can talk. Then go to the bathroom and splash cold water on your face. Keep a stiff upper lip, keep your emotions close to the vest, and buck up and cope with it.

There have been times when I've almost cried in front of my professor, such as on the first day of a difficult math class, when I was confronted with a whiteboard crammed full of bizarre symbols and mysterious notations that I should have learned about in high school if I hadn't been such a burnout. And you know what kept my imminent meltdown in check so that it was nothing more than a shiny-eyed moment of blinking away tears? The potential humiliation of crying in front of my professor.

Cry in the bathroom, in the stairwell, or in the relative privacy of your dorm room. Don't burden a near-stranger with your extreme emotions. Think of how you'd feel if your professor started bawling while talking to you. Wouldn't you be uncomfortable? Just because your proffie's an old guy who wears tweedy jacket like Dad's doesn't mean he's comfortable with your breakdown.

As far as Kutie's "hope that I'll become a good enough art historian that no one cares that I'm a hot bed of hormones," sorry, Kutie, but art history's one of those overcrowded fields in which there are a hundred art historians just as good as you who aren't emotional roller coasters. If you want special allowances to be a huge crybaby, or for that matter, to be an arrogant prick, or unhygienic, misanthropic, obsessed with your pets, etc., then you have to pick a less crowded field, like industrial engineering. Or better yet, a professor of industrial engineering, then you can be a huge crybaby with tenure, so you can cry a river whenever you feel like it.

Otherwise, learn to regain composure - it will be an essential skill when you finally join the ranks of the gainfully employed, because as frustrating as college is, working a real job, even when you're doing something you love, is 200 times more frustrating. Work on seeing the grim humour in everyday disasters, and learn to conserve your grief for real tragedies like death and heartbreak.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thick Thad from Thunderdome College Sends his Greetings.

I'm not usually indignant towards what I read at RYS, but you whiners have some warped perspectives on what counts or doesn't count as a "problem student."

Awww, they're texting in class? I have to teach a low-level intro course and I don't like it? My "research" is so important. I need to focus on it so I can get another publication (that no one will read). As for Midcareer Mike, pull it together man! Just cause you end up at a McUniversity in Florida of mediocre repute does not make you a failure - I envy you over the Ivy whiners the most....just soak up some rays, save some jink so you can move about the country a bit, and enjoy those depressed home prices in Florida - oh, and keep the Margaritas flowing.

You guys have no idea. You don't like spoiled snowflakes? You wouldn't last one day at my school.

Welcome to Thunderdome Bitches!

Right now I am sitting next to a man whose arms are bigger than my thighs because he's been working out in the yard at Leavenworth. A female student of mine thought it was a smart idea to blackmail her boyfriend by getting her pregnant girlfriend to pee on the preg test - she suckered him out of 500$ to abort a non-existent fetus. Another student of mine approached me earlier this week - his car was broken down in the lot - he wanted to borrow 500$...I jokingly asked him to give me his gold for collateral (he had none). His wife, sitting next to him, suggested, "just give him one of your kids, you GOT six of em'."

Students selling their bodies on Craiglist while in class? You were joking, right? Well, here a girl of questionable provenance in a class I was subbing for DID put her profile up...on She got a offer - 400$ for 2 times a month. From HER GYNECOLOGIST. Oral and "light anal" preferred. Or how about Johnny, who came to class after eating a handful of Xanax and drinking all night; he proceeded to offer up some yellow drool in between stumbling trips to the toilet. You'd probably like Methy McMethster too...she is constantly nagging financial aid to try to get a refund so she can get going on her next bender.

Or the student who pistol whipped his stepfather...maybe the woman who beat hear boyfriend silly with the butt of a shotgun? Maybe you'd like to talk with the homeless student who shows up to the school at 7am when the doors open and doesn't leave til security kicks him out (and sleeps God knows where)...he's surviving on handouts from some of the more generous teachers.

You must think I am exaggerating - I can't make this shit up - if I were that good of a writer, I'd have penned my first thriller and be collecting royalties and sipping Daquiris with Mike down in Florida. When I introduce myself to people I tell them "I work at the school that advertises during Jerry Springer."

At least if I need a hookup I know I can walk down any hallway in the school meet the right student for that....

I'm not trying to whine or talk-up how gutsy (greedy?) I am to go work in the City - sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it - Just please, get some fucking perspective before you complain about another harmless 18 year old who likes to get his evening plans in order before he leaves class. The job market is tight, you'll earn your filthy lucre anywhere you can, you might just end up at my school - at least texting students will be the least of your worries.

Count your blessings.

Petey's Pop Percival Gets Some Pity From Some Proffies - But Not From All.

We had a flood of mail concerning young Petey, unwittingly trapped in a Big 10 monolith with a bunch of crappy TAs. The mail ran about half and half, some folks sympathetic to Petey and his pop, and some folks gleeful to knock them both in a ditch. Such as it is, here is some flava from 20 responses we thought might push the issue forward - or piss people off even more:

Poor Percival!
  • I'd say your fears aren't irrational. We've all encountered disastrous grad student instructors. At my institution, we try to mentor them, but our capacity to intervene is limited. That's the bad news. The good news is that, much of the time, these folks have more time and energy to devote to your precious Petey than we proffies. They're also engaged in very current research, so they bring that energy and that new material into the classroom. There's also absolutely no guarantee that the quality of instruction by tenured and tenure-track folks will be higher than the quality offered by graduate students and sessionals.

  • Tell your son to take responsibility for his own education (good advice for anyone), by doing some active course shopping. In other words, he should -immediately- look up in the college's catalog the deadlines for adding new courses, and for dropping courses in which he's registered now. If time permits, he should start "dropping in" to other sections of his courses, or similar courses that satisfy the same requirements: he can find out when and where these classes meet from the college's class schedule (which is usually available online at most colleges, these days, as should be the catalog), or from the departments that offer the courses. In this way, he can see for himself whether the instructors might be better. If your son can find better instructors, he should drop his old courses and in their place add the new ones, -before- the college's deadlines for adding and dropping courses: time is of the essence here, since these deadlines may not be more than a few days away. Even if your son is only partly successful with finding better instructors, he'll have improved his situation a lot: the history instructor sounds the worst of all, although neither of the others sound great.

  • While it is normal to have grad students teaching entry-level history level classes at Big 10 universities (I know, I was one), it is not cool for these students to make disdainful comments about "nervous freshmen." Many grad students, with their reputations on the line, care more about teaching than do full professors (though, as the "Ivy" letters indicated last week, not all). Your son should have tried to switch out of those classes. But if it's too late, make sure he writes a strongly worded evaluation at the end of the semester. Show up at that grad student's office hours every week. And DEFINITELY say something about that math professor. Tell her that you can't hear her, ask if she could use a microphone. If that doesn't work, go above her and talk to the dep't chair. If that doesn't work, sit in the very front row and ask if she could post lecture notes online after class.

  • If you want little Petey to get a good education, he should GET OUT of that school. His first few semesters will be conducted by an assortment of TAs, in grad programs that are below-par... (not that TAs of really good grad programs are any better). He'd be much better off at your local community college, where ALL of the instructors have completed MAs and many profs have Ph.D.s. By the time little Petey decides what he wants to do with his life, he can go back to the Big 10 school with a major in mind.

  • First off, kudos to you for trying so hard with your son, Petey's pop. You're also a brave soul for sending your request to a site where professors and grad students spend most of their time grumbling over students who don't know what's what. We'd be pretty retarded if we didn't try to do something about it by answering your questions, though. Overall, Petey's first semester doesn't sound too unusual, but here are some things you and Petey can do anyway from someone who was only "5 years older" than his freshman composition students a few years ago. First off, remember that Petey can transfer into a different class for the first week or so if the one he's in doesn't suit him or he doesn't think he'll learn much there. If he decides to stay with his classes, here's some advice for each one. For English, go to the TA's office hours, chat with him, get him to clarify the assignments, etc. From your description, it looks like he's going to be a really easy instructor (or an incompetent one - but hopefully not). If he seems like he doesn't really know his stuff - transfer asap or, at the very least, have the instructor (or another one) recommend some books for reading. For math, he's running into the infamous problem of incomprehensible foreign TAs. He could transfer to a more comprehensible and less nervous TA, but if he stays I'd suggest he get together a study group with his friends and they go over things together and try to figure them out, and then use the TA's office hours. She might be more relaxed and understandable in private. The history TA just sounds like a self-important jackass, but he may be fair. If he seems to have reasonable grading policies and to know his shit, he's probably fine. Don't expect him to help out much beyond the lectures, though. Think of the first semester as something of a learning experience, but not just in terms of school-work. It's also about getting used to the system and figuring out how to handle it.

  • This, unfortunately, is the future of the university. So-called research-1 level schools, like your Big Ten uni there, have been doing this for years. The more recent (and more troubling) trend is that whereas, say, thirty years ago maybe something like 40-50% of all courses were taught by barely-compensated grad students and adjuncts, today it's more like 75-80%. Universities--especially big, nationally-ranked public universities--love farming out courses to grad students and adjuncts for several reasons: (1) It's cheap. Assistant profs--the people who should be teaching Petey's introductory courses--cost the uni a whopping $55,000/year, and once you figure in benefits like health care, retirement, and a modicum of job security...well that would just cost too much! (2) Full-timers--or what we in the biz call tenured and tenure-track profs--are really there for two reasons: one is to publish and take part in a little committee work from time to time; the other is so the uni can put a (semi-)famous scholar's bio on their department website. The bulk of what the general public thinks is the work of the uni is done by the nameless, faceless masses. (3) This is the one we're not supposed to talk about: universities don't really care about the quality of instruction they're giving. Oh sure, when it comes time for US News and World Report Rankings to come out, they're all over the numbers and stats like a monkey on a hundred yards of grapevine; but where it actually matters, say, in the classroom--they couldn't care less if said monkey were teaching the course.

  • Your son will survive, but whether he gets anything out of this semester is probably going to depend largely on him. And there isn't ANYTHING you can do but encourage the kid to figure out how to use the university, and to stay focused on his studies more than the oh-so-pleasant social distractions that surround him. For the English class--the bragging hippie might still know how to write, and might even be able to convey some of what he knows. His old GPA doesn't matter. If the hippie can't teach worth shit, Petey should hit the writing center regularly and often. Actually, if he's like most freshmen, he should hit the writing center regularly and often anyway. For the history class, the TA clearly has office hours before class even if he isn't willing to meet after class, and so Petey should show up for them if he needs to. If he can't, he should start a study group with other people in his class (and he needs to go out of his way to find relatively smart people to study with). For math, you son should sit up front, show up for office hours, and if his university has a Q or math center, he should take advantage of it. All of this should be on top of being willing to actually do the reading and homework, without procrastinating. College instructors can make learning more interesting and fun, and they can speed up the process of learning. But especially at the first year level in giant lecture classes, your son could probably learn most of it on his own in conjunction with university support systems if he is persistent and dedicated. Most freshmen aren't, but you should make it clear to your son that it's up to him if he gets anything out of college, especially this first year.

  • I hope it's all right if I reply as well. I'm a parent, too, and my daughter faced these exact problems last year in her freshmen year. She struggled mightily, was depressed for most of the term, but by semester end she came through all right. Being on campus that first semester taught her a lot about the "real world." She also learned about how to deal with difficult people - her instructors - and how to avoid trouble when she knew more. Her suitemates turned her on to other courses in her spring semester taught by acknowledged good teachers, and lo-n-behold she even got a real "proffy" or two. Tell Petey to hang in there.

  • I guess I'm more part of the problem than the solution, but I empathize with Percival. I went to a large SEC school as an undergrad, and bitched and moaned about my under prepared instructors. Then, a few years later, I became one! I went into my first teaching classes like a deer caught in the headlights. But, I worked my ass off, and except for maybe a few weeks in that first semester, I think I did a damn fine job with my students. (I was only three years older than some of them!) Tell Petey to hang in there. Be involved as much as possible, ask for help. And when in doubt, especially in freshman level courses, find out where the tutors are!

  • Yes, Petey is in for a tough semester. It sounds like Percival and his wife are involved in a good way, but since Petey is a first-generation student, they can't give him a lot of advice. If Petey is interested in doing well this first semester, he needs to check out the different academic support services offered by his university, such as a study center, tutoring services, and a writing center. Some of the larger freshman classes may have separate optional class or study sessions across sections. Petey also needs to be proactive in getting what he needs from his instructors. While a large part of college is learning to learn independently, that's a process, not something freshmen should be expected to do immediately. His graduate assistants are also learning to teach, but there's no excuse for failure to provide adequate office hours or indicating an unwillingness to meet with students. If his History instructor has not posted the required number of office hours (which vary by school) and/or is not there during his hours, Petey should politely bring this to the attention of the department administration.

Fuck Percival!
  • You clearly have a great sense of priorities. So thrilled were you that the brain-child got into a U known "nationwide" (holy hell) for its sports teams that you forgot to ask about the classes. But at least the food is top notch! As someone who taught at a Big Ten when I was all but 3-5 years older than my students, I can assure you that I was still a whole heck of a bit smarter than the lot of them. And I was a good teacher. Are your son's teacher's good? Who the hell knows? But you signed on for TAs when you decided on Massive U. If you didn't know that, you're certainly in no place to start bitching and thinking that Precious Petey deserves better now. So what can you do? Back the fuck off. This isn't high school; you don't get a say in who teaches whom. By midterm, Petey will be too drunk off his ass to care anyway.

  • Yours is problem of misguided expectations. By shipping your progeny to a “Big Ten” school you sent it to a “research” school. The faculty’s main goal in a research school is to achieve glory and/or riches by writing papers. Since you need some students to be called a university, research faculty delegate the teaching to the Lumpenproletariat (viz. graduate students). If you cared about actual teaching you would have done better outsourcing your offspring to a teaching school (SLAC, four years college) were it would get to meet some actual faculty. It would have met adjunct faculty, though, but that is a different problem. Your youngster should not despair, though. Faculty quality does not hinder the achievement of an student’s goals: getting plastered and getting laid.

  • Suck it up Daddy-Oh. There is nothing you can do; play the hand you're dealt. Petey might be part of a multicultural workforce later, so in addition to learning math, he is learning how to listen more attentively to an English-as-a-second-or-third language voice. (He could always ask her to mic up for the big hall; she may be unaware she isn't being heard). Ditto for Frank -- Petey might learn English (or not) from Frank, but maybe he'll learn good study habits (on his own or with his roomie from Florida) and decide not to be a burn-out like Frank, OR Frank might turn out to be the best teacher of his university career.

  • Hate to say it, but just what were you spending your time on on all the hours you put into your son's college application? Just because there are high profile professors there certainly doesn't mean that your little treasure is actually going to come within sniffing distance of them. They are high profile because they spend all their time on research, probably teach about one course a year and it sure won't be freshman composition. Famous for sports teams? That's apparently what you considered worth having, but those things cost, huge, huge bucks to run, and it's the ordinary freshmen like your son who are casualties of this awful mass-production model of higher education where names - whether of professors and sports teams - get more kudos than the actual quality of some the courses, particularly the freshman ones that supposedly anyone, even some crappy TA, can teach.

  • A Big10 education is what you chose for your man-child, and it appears a Big10 education is what he is getting. The bits and pieces you have chosen to report -- and the manner in which you do so -- say much more about you and your man-child, than about the Uni you have chosen.

  • The first couple week of college can be the hardest. A combination of buyer's remorse, homesickness, and lack of structure often don't sit will with kids who are unprepared ... much less the kids' parents. Let him vent and complain, but don't intervention. Instead, encourage him to excel in classes, seek out opportunities outside of the classroom, and otherwise take responsibility for his own life. College is the time for mommies & daddies to back off. There is no PTA in college. There are no parent-teacher conferences in college. Stop coddling your kid. Stop complaining for your kid. Help him grow up.

  • You’re quickly establishing yourself as a helicopter parent. Quit the hovering and fly back to the airport! You worked hard to get your son into a good school. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Part of the college experience for your son involves figuring out how to learn course material in a less than ideal situation. There’s not a reader on this blog who didn’t have to deal at some point with instructors who were graduate assistants, new to teaching in general, or did not speak English well. Part of the maturing process involves figuring out a way to overcome such obstacles to learning.

  • If Daddy didn't realize that undergrad is only a stepping stone for grad school and that real profs don't take time to teach the proles, then he needs to tell Petey to come home and learn a trade. Petey is a good name for a plumber--sounds trustworthy; who wouldn't hire "Petey the Plumber" to unclog their drain or run a new line? Sign him up as an apprentice as the local plumbers union, and within seven years he'll be making upwards of 100k and showing housewives his ass for free.

  • You asked what you can do to help your son, so here's the answer. Not a fucking thing. And giving him the impression that you're going to swoop in and solve his issues with his first year instructor in whatever is actually doing the opposite of helping. As in, you're standing in the way of any possibility that he'll either solve his own problems or learn from failing to do so.

  • It doesn't get any simpler than that. You can't run his life from where you are, and the very fact that you're surfing around the Internet looking for professors to talk to is ... well, it's creepy. A tad understandable, but creepy. You need to get a handle on your separation issues and step way back. In fact you're long overdue for that. Believe it or not, quite a lot of kids manage to apply for college on their own. The amount of time you and your wife have devoted to the effort should have been an early warning sign. You want to help your son? Buy him a couple of the many general books on how to cope with college. Send them straight to his door from Amazon. Maybe he'll read them but probably not. And the lesson he'll learn is that life is full of challenges that mommy and daddy can't fix.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kooky Kutie from Kauneonga Lake on Crying, Sanity, and the Plushy Proclivity of Math Proffies.

This is a very late reply to Dr. Mindbender's post on crying students. I respect the fact that it is uncomfortable to have to sit in front of someone who is having a meltdown. I also acknowledge that there are students who would stand there and cry in front of their professors in an attempt to win leniency. Hell, I was friends with a girl who wrote a sob letter to her professor on the back of the exam she had just bombed. It was a disingenuous mix of mea culpa and flirtation- and apparently it worked because she got a B+.

However, please don't be so suspicious of every student who stands there and cries in front of you. I'm one of those emotional needy, type-A-kooky, nutty students who melts if something goes awry...and yes I've stood there and (gasp) cried in front of a professor (or three.) Yet, it's never been part of a plot to connive. Such a scene occurred last year when I arrived at my Roman Art final - presumably fifteen minutes early - only to find the class halfway through with the exam. It turns out that the official final exam schedule posted online had been amended in class the week before when I was out sick. I should have emailed the professor to confirm the time of the test, but I didn't because I didn't want to annoy her.

Yet, there I was after not having slept in 46 hours, holding with a container full of 300 flashcards and believing that I had just failed a graduate school class. Estrogen and adrenalin mated and a meltdown was born. Standing in the hallway, my body shook, my chin quivered and the tears came down....just in time for my professor to see me as she came out of her office. Now, perhaps, Dr. Mindbender would say that I should have regained composure and shown a little professionalism. To which I would reply- fat chance and you're assuming that the waterworks are a voluntary response. I don't want to look like a lunatic... I can't help it. I realize that should I ever actually find a job, I'll never be the perfect, professional automaton. I can only hope that I'll become a good enough art historian that no one cares that I'm a hot bed of hormones.

It's unlikely, but there may yet be hope in that respect. As I look at some of my professors I realize that they're people too.... mostly lovely, but complete with a whole lot of mishagoss. Yet, someone gave them tenure. I've sat through professors openly staring down my blouse, complaining about Jews and ex-wives (this one still disturbs me,) performing slightly paranoid rants about administration plots against them...You see - students aren't the only nutter butters in the cookie jar of college. Heck, I was on eHarmony and was accosted by a local math professor who asked me if I was dominant or submissive - I wanted to ask him if he was a plushy or a furry...

Anyway, hopefully you get my point - let's all try to respect each other and enjoy the experience as much as possible. Don't let us manipulate, but don't expect us to be preternaturally sane either - you're not.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One More Flake Wins a Battle Of Wills.

I wanted to thank you for taking my course. I appreciate how you persevered through the course despite the many hardships you faced during the last 6 weeks and your total hatred for the subject matter. I wish you and your husband well since you felt it necessary to share with us how you both had been fighting from week to week and this is why your work was not quite what was expected. Hopefully the 4 sessions with a certified therapist the school has provided will prove helpful.

I also hope all the soda you gave your son to sit for the final exam didn't make him sick. It would have been a terrible shame for your young child to be sick at the bar that your husband runs. I truly appreciate how you managed to do most of your assignments there despite the poor lighting.

I just felt you should know you have only been receiving an A for these last couple weeks in the course to get you to shut the FUCK up about your first amendment rights being trampled on or what other manic issue you had each day. I normally don't let a difficult student slide, but unless you learn to keep quite and listen, failure is inevitable and on this rare instance I will have forgiven myself from the rants of the hopelessly oppressed.

If you've still not settled on a major, I'd suggest looking into pre-law. Since you already have shown an interest in your own rights it could be helpful to learn what they actually mean and of course no one would deny your willingness to argue about every irrelevant point just to illustrate your intellectual dominance. I will admit you taught me one thing. It is important to stand up for what you believe, so with that I cheerfully assign you the A-!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"I Know Clever Carla From Cornell." Cinda from CitiBank With Good News On the Strivers and Their Lifespans.

I don't literally know her. But I know her type well enough to feel pity. I'm not an English post doc, but a banker of sorts. I deal with sociopaths all the time.

I follow RYS the same way that I'd witness a nineteenth century Marquesan orgy: it's a fascinating ethnography into a culture that seems a strange to me. But Carla from Cornell inspired me with enough pity that I had to get on my knees in the sand, so to speak, and write this note.

Carla's disdain for the nickel-wrapper is exactly like the hedge fund manager's contempt of the little people who actually make any organization work. Myself not included: I'm a happy middle manager who punches my clock, rides down the dinosaur at 5 pm sharp and is home in time to cook my daughter a healthy organic dinner every day. The dinner that she dumps on the floor, complaining it's not as tasty as the daycare hot dogs. Of such joys is a happy life made.

But Carla's type is the 20-something striver. Only the psychos make it though; the ones without friends, family obligations, a sense of fun or vacation time. I'm nice enough to them (might be my boss one day), but I keep as clear as I can. For their lack of soul, they will burn through a median 3 marriages, 2 kids that they never see, and will die of heart attacks at 60. But die incredibly, unimaginably rich.

Which is what I find so pitiful about Carla. She's got all the incivility and lack of introspection, but none of the earning potential. Instead, she comforts herself with her "narrow and important" field (no contradiction there: perhaps she will love reading my memos on delta hedging commodity-linked derivatives as much as I'd enjoy reading her fine work). Perhaps she just didn't understand how important it is to master math to be a proper jerkwad. A promising pillaging career ruined by an inability to invert a matrix.

So Carla wouldn't ask me for career advice, but it would be thus: be a decent human being and respectful above all. It's how to be happy and healthy. But if you must be an asshole, at least be a rich one. Otherwise, prepare for mockery.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Silver Backed Bucky from Boneta Says: "I See Orange People."

Anyone teaching on a large campus the last handful of years has witnessed a slow immigration of orange skinned youths with inhumanely white teeth. These artificially tanned beings dress in the latest suburb-appropriate fashion, not a hair is out of place, both the male and female of the species are denuded of body hair, and they all emit the same mass produced scent.

Last evening I met with a long lost friend and made the mistake of agreeing to do so at a bar near a suburban mall. There I witnessed an amazing thing—I had found the oompa-loompa breeding ground. The place was packed with the soon to be, if not already, divorced parents of the orange youths. These fifty-somethings-on-the-make were also orange and white toothed, and dressed and smelled the same as their offspring. They appeared to be oblivious to their own grotesqueness as they actually preened and puffed-up their chests to attract a mate. From what I could gather of their mating ritual, possession of the latest consumer products (automobiles, big screen TV’s, and breast implants) was the most critical factor to a successful coupling.

I am currently reading "Mr. Jefferson’s Lost Cause" by R. Kennedy. The author discusses Thomas Jefferson’s rhetorical acclaim of the yeoman farmer, the middling-sort of his time. Jefferson professed that they were the backbone and “pride” of the republican nation. (Kennedy goes on to argue that is was all talk, that TJ actually pursued a course of action that fostered plantation-slavery over an independent yeomanry.) Be that as it may, it all has me thinking about this new, post-modern middling-sort.

One tenet of post-modernity is the rejection of Platonic metaphysics, with its dualism of surface and underlying substance that has defined western thought for two millennia. In the post-modern era everything is superficial, behind every mask there is only and always another mask. “What you see is what you get!” Scholars no longer search for some underlying reality; rather they have become adept at reading surfaces.

The post-modern middling sort is as it seems. There is no soul, no intelligence other than the craft and cleverness requisite for the acquisition of consumer goods. They inhabit a suburban world of mall and mega-store culture. Every aspect of their identity is “mega” from their mega-screen TV’s and mega-SUV’s to their temples, the mega-church. And life is best lived at one remove, via the electronic glow of a cathode-ray tube, or I should be more “with it” and say via LCD or plasma. They even like their wars to be mega- and at one remove, remember “Shock and Awe?” Since no one really wants to have to actually go fight a war, they hire private contractors to do it for them. (They don’t even know what “Blackwater” was or that it is now Xe.) Every aspect of their lives is mega- and easily purchased. All of this is readable from their surface; on their teeth, hair, clothing, and their skin. That artificial orange color speaks volumes. Time again to swing wide-open the doors of the academy, the oompa-loompas are coming to increase their human capital. How else are they gonna pay for all this cool stuff?

Due to their sheer numbers, these orange people are still the backbone of the nation, but who today could assert, even as a rhetorical flourish, that they are our “pride?” Eeeeww, that’s just gross!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Angry Archie Arrives To Settle the Score on Salaries, and Why There's Rarified Air Above those Stinky Adjuncts.

OK RYSers, I have one question for you: what the fuck? And I’m not talking about all the people who wrote in to tell everyone else their salary. That’s just bad taste. No, I’m talking about the reactions to yesterday’s salary dump.

Let’s start with the people who thought others were lying about their six-figure salary. What rock have you been sleeping under? And it ain’t just the wankers in the professional schools either like one respondent suggested. I know some literature professors who make north of the two-fifty line. So if you didn’t know that many of your colleagues are making four or five times your salary for basically the same work, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Then there’s the guy who couldn’t believe how little the adjuncts got paid? Again, where have you been all these years, shit-for-brains? And as for the wise old tenured mentor who tells them to “just refuse the number” I’d like to ask that jackass what good that would do when there are fifty other unemployed Ph.D.s waiting in line to take that number? So, sure, they can refuse the fucking number, and watch while someone else takes the classes. At least they’ll have their pride right? What a fucking tool!

People ask me, “Archie, why are you so angry? You have a great job at a great school in a great place. Where’s the problem?” Well, the little salary discussion really wrapped the problem up in a pretty little package. This profession is full of fucking shit, and the salary dump brought it all out. Let me go out on a limb here and guess that the majority of the respondents were good-hearted people with the proper kind of left-leaning politics that most hyper-educated bozos share. You probably don’t like to shop at Walmart because of its union-busting practices, and you wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a non-fair-trade latte, right? But you are shocked to find out that there is exploitation going on here! Here’s a hint for you about what’s going on in our little corner of the world: Walmart could learn a thing or two from you, Mr. “just refuse the number.”

Let’s review for a second. How do you think you got your 2/2 load? It wasn’t because of your supreme meritoriousness. And it isn’t a birthright that those of us like you and me who have the good fortune to teach at good schools enjoy because we are oh-so-fucking-special. It is actually a fairly new development in American higher ed. The administrations went to the faculty and said “you are such wonderful shiny research machines, and we’d like to reward you for being so utterly super. So here’s a 2/2 load, and we’ll just go get some desperate unemployed person to pick up the classroom slack for you.” I mean, what could be better right? Except that then the administrations said to the departments, “oh, that tenure track line, you don’t need that anymore right? I mean we have all those happy adjuncts to teach those classes now.” And the departments said nothing, because they were happy with their 2/2 loads and their research budgets. It was a Hobbesian social contract. Once the departments subscribed to it and accepted the new order, everyone who came after was bound by the new order forever more.

So this is the ugly fucking truth. You, me, all of us, we get to live the vida-fucking-loca on the backs of all those desperate suckers who just want to get their foot in the door and will accept wages a supermarket cashier would spit at because they believe that somehow if they just suck it up and eat shit for long enough, they too will get to ride the tt train. But we don’t acknowledge this, because it would break our little leftist hearts to do so. And what’s more, our refusal to acknowledge what is happening is going to result in our own extinction. If you don’t think that this is all leading to the elimination of tenure and full-time positions at all but the most elite schools, then you are in for a serious surprise. Keep fiddling, motherfuckers, because Rome is already half-burned.

And here’s the real kicker. This state of things leads to little shit-lickers like Ivy and his pal Gonorrhea, or whatever her fucking name was, saying “teaching is for losers, and I’m too good to do it.” Two months ago this pair of short-strokers was getting reamed by their advisors and everyone else in exchange for some miserly little grad stipend. Now they got some shit-job at Ozarks mining college and suddenly they’re too good for all that? I mean Gonorrhea had the audacity to say she just handed it off to her “assistant” so she could get one with the real work of research in her “narrow but incredibly important” field. I guess it’s true what they say, if you want someone to really crack the whip, just hand that motherfucker to one of the subalterns and watch the blood fly. They’ll turn on their peers like no one’s business.

So blame the president, the legislature, the football coach, and whoever else you want. Just don’t blame yourself, because that would be too much like fucking honesty. Why is Archie angry? Because this profession is full of self-deluding assholes who are enjoying the view because they are standing on the stacked cadavers of a bunch of failed gradflakes and freeway adjuncts. The breeze smells fresh up here fellas, just don’t look down.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hiram From Ham Lake Harumphs on Our Salary Hilarity.

Please stop this professorial pay madness. I always knew we were whiners and narcissists, but are we really reachy wannabes as well? How many of us in the humanities couldn't have gone to law school if what we wanted was a six figure salary? How many in the sciences wouldn't be at big chemical firms, how many engineers at defense contractors? C'mon, people, we know how it works--people make what they do in response to rough supply-and-demand type forces, with the occasional union or especially draconian pay freeze thrown in for good measure. More in the sciences and business schools, less in the foreign languages. We get it. You don't need to post any more public institution pay scales--we discovered these at my own uni a few years ago, and it ruined everyone's life in our department, because we couldn't DO anything about it. Anyone who knows can send you a post about what dark machinations are required to raise or lower certain salaries. I repeat--we get it. WE GET IT. STOP.

If you want something to rage about, look up. As in UP. How much does the president of your university make? How many vice presidents are there, and what do they all do? At my institution--which just closed its separate graduate school and built a football stadium--the offensive and defensive coordinators each make over $300,000 to lose half their games every year. The admin buildings have more flatscreen TVs in them than the sports bars that surround the campus, often tuned to static images.

My point is, there are forces at work well above ALL our pay grades, and that's what deserves our scorn and obsession. All that these public institution pay records do is turn us against each other and make us hate our lives. Seriously, stop this bullshit. If all we've got to complain about is how much money we make compared to proffies in other disciplines, RYS has fallen a long way indeed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Thanks for Ruining My Day." Some Salary Followups.

  • Full Prof, >30 years experience, flagship state university, Biochemistry: $113,000 for 11 months, if I have enough money in the grants after I pay for light bulbs, chemicals and technicians. Otherwise 9/11ths of that. Teaching load: two team-taught freshman courses (1/3 each), one hundred-student upper-division course by myself, one-third of the introductory grad courses. Five major committees including campus P&T (there goes February and March).
  • I just finished my 8th year--$54,000, in a private, religious (sort of) 4 yr in Midwest. It took going through multiple schools and lots of negotiating, threatening to leave, and gender equity raises to get here. I'm in the sciences, and teach 4/4.
  • Jewish studies (historian), 3-2 teaching load, assistant prof (6th year), $57,000.
  • I'm in my first year on the tenure track at a midwestern urban R1. I teach 2/2 in a social science field and make $62,000.
  • I'm in my fifth year as assistant professor (Humanities, 3/2 load) in a large Canadian university and make just over $95,000 CAD; currently about $85,750 USD. I don't complain about my pay (though I live in an expensive city and carry plenty of credit card debt).
  • I teach 4/4 at a state comprehensive university in the northeast central US. I've been here 15 years and am a full prof. My field is philosophy, and I make $100,000.
  • Someone's never heard of faculty making more than $100 K? Clearly someone has never heard of engineering faculty who are Distinguished Professors (Above Scale) at major research universities. I bet medical faculty do similarly well. Here's the secret: They busted their asses to do hard things not many people want to do AND for which people with lots of money want to pay them. Whereas you humanities types are (nearly literally) a dime a dozen and not doing anything people are going to line up to pay you tons of money to do. And I hope to Goddess you knew that going in. Me? I'm in the social sciences and expect to do better than $60 K but probably not so well as $150 K. (My secret? I'm not stuck with faculty jobs as my only option.) And I am totally fine with that. I made sure I knew the score going in.
  • 3/3 load at a SLAC in pacific northwest, $70,000.
  • "I must confess I don't have any experience with part-time adjuncts, but the numbers people are reporting simply can't be real. I don't know anyone who'd teach for $3000 a class as some of your quoted numbers suggest." Well let me tell you it IS real. And those of you who make more and apparently only surround yourselves with others who make more should get your heads out of the sand and realize how hard it is for some of us to earn a living. My Northwest community college pays exactly $3,163.80 to teach a 5 credit class. I feel bad for the poor saps who are assigned the 4-credit classes (which is most of them) which pay less than $3000 per class. Teaching four such classes would be considered a full time load but being paid per class amounts to a whopping $12,655.20. AND no benefits. I even have to pay for a damned parking pass at my school. We part-timers are abused. And to the guy who said "Don't accept the number" and "Nobody put a gun to your head" ... Could you please come on over to my house and pay my mortgage and buy groceries for me while I'm negotiating a better salary? Thanks. It may take a while because there are ten other shmucks in line behind me willing to take the tiny salary. The college doesn't really care whether or not they are getting the best teacher, they just care about enrollment numbers and profit margins.
  • Psychology, $95,000, ordinary private uni in the south.
  • Salaries over $150K are possible and worth it for some superstars. We have several profs who make more than our university president and he’s happy to let everybody know it (if only because we might think his salary is small). Schools get about 20% overhead from all research grants and can hire an adjunct to teach for you while your grant pays your full salary. Patents are the big prize. Plus, the publicity of having a world-renowned scientist is valuable too, especially for schools that don’t have good athletics programs – I mean, don’t get free 3-hour commercials on fall Saturday afternoons and in March.
  • I get $2412.34 per class at a crappy community college in Pennsylvania. And I teach exactly that hard, at about 10% of my ability, training, and inclination.
  • When I was hired, I was shown my salary on a cute little AAUP salary graph that showed me "roughly" in the middle of the new assistant professors. Fine, I thought. Now ten years in, I'm making $54,000 in the humanities, and we just hired two half-retards fresh out of grad school at $58k and $61k. Who do I call about that?
  • Humanities, poor me, $41,500, fourth year, 4/4.
  • As a grad student, I taught (not TA'd) a whole ton of seminar classes at a wannabe-Ivy research university. I was paid between $1500 and $4500 per course. I later taught 2/2 as an adjunct in the same department at the same university and made $42,000/year. Then I took my Ph.D. and got the hell out of academia; I now make $61,800/year working in industry. And for once, I believe in what I'm doing. Rumor had it that my grad school advisor was pulling in over $250,000/year--because he brought in lots of grant money, he threatened to leave the university, so they gave him some kind of big award and big salary to make him stay.
  • Religion proffie, brand new, first contract for $61,000, negotiated up from offer of $52k.
  • Oh good, another reason for me to hate my fucking life. $49,000, 5/5 load, fifth year, Sociology.
  • I'm starting my 6th year about to apply for tenure in the Physics Department at a small uni in the South. I typically have 12-14 contact hours per term. Started at $47,940 in 2004 and am making $52,220 now. Might have been more but our former President left us in some financial distress. I get more if I pull in a grant and have summer salary. I don't teach in the summer so that salary is for 9 months. For those at public institutions - you can usually get a copy of your uni's budget (and faculty/staff salaries) at the library. Interesting reading!
  • Art history, $39,500, second year at a state college in the south.
  • Okay, you want the dirt. One weekend I went to do photocopying for a class in the main office of my department. (A totally useless state school in Michigan.) As I was waiting for copies to collate, I noticed a file cabinet ajar behind the department secretary's desk. Of course I shouldn't have, but I strolled over, saw my name on a personnel file, and picked it up. By the time the orgy was over, I knew the salary of ALL of my colleagues. Deadwood Dick made $120,000. Sexy Suzie made $70,000. I made $66,000. The range was astonishing, and blew my mind. Three people on the exact same year teaching the same load, had salaries of $80,000, $67,000, and $50,000. Is there that much negotiating going on that I don't know about?
  • Adjunct teaching 6-7 a year at $2200 a class. (Class size 35+.)
  • I may be hopeless naive, and just a sweet Southern belle who doesn't like to think about these things, but I'm nearly apoplectic over the fact that you've reported someone in my own discipline who makes nearly FIVE TIMES my salary. Thank you for ruining my day! I swear I wish I could find that person and beat him/her with a Louisville Slugger.
  • $59,000, Communications, big state school in Midwest.
  • I'm starting my 6th year about to apply for tenure in the Physics Department at a small uni in the South. I typically have 12-14 contact hours per term. Started at $47,940 in 2004 and am making $52,220 now. Might have been more but our former President left us in some financial distress. I get more if I pull in a grant and have summer salary. I don't teach in the summer so that salary is for 9 months. For those at public institutions - you can usually get a copy of your uni's budget (and faculty/staff salaries) at the library. Interesting reading!
  • $42,000, first year t-t in English, SLAC in south.
  • $47k. I'm in a teaching-only term faculty position, 6 large lecture classes and supervision of one lab course a year, state U in the upper South, 10 years experience as a professor and had tenure at a previous university. It's a living and I'm glad to have it.
  • Been at a Midwestern Community College for 6yrs. Grossed 75,000. Teach 6 classes. Will hire a new person for next fall – we have a scale, but a PhD with a few years of teaching could start at 4
  • Great survey and very informative.....although it makes me feel SORRY for myself. I wish more people identified the region of the country they live in and the area in which they teach. Anyway, I'm in the humanities and teach a 3-3 at a small comprehensive college in the Midwest. I'm starting my fourth year and make (almost) $49,000. (I was hired at $45,000).
  • $43,000 - Assistant Professor starting 3rd year in Arts/Humanities at "Flagship" in SW State. No raises at institution in years (except for upper admin). Mandatory furloughs loom.
  • Full time, 3/3, all freshman composition, at a big state uni. Non-tenure track. Four years in: $37,900.
  • The strangest thing happened. I got a 12% pay raise this year. I'll make $89K if I don't teach in the summer. No, I did not get a promotion - I made full a few years ago. We have a equity clause in our union contract that kicked in this year despite state budget cuts and declining enrollment. I teach 2/2 in a science related field at a mediocre state research Uni in the middle of nowhere.
  • I teach 4/4 at a state comprehensive in the east central US. I've been here 15 years and am a full prof. I make $100,000.

Humanities Prof Writes: "Salaries? I Thought Some Of Those Figures Were GNPs."

Our "poorly designed," "silly," "worthless," and "crude" survey of salaries has generated quite a bit of mail. The first set of numbers went up this morning, of course, and we're still eager for you to write with your salary, teaching load, AND discipline.

But we also want to share some recent notes that have come in that might move the discussion out of mere math to theory.

  • Whoa dude, Wow. Can you guys say what fields you're in more specifically? I'm a grad student and I'm *very* interested in understanding the differences across fields. I know it's not statistically valid and all that stuff, but still, I'd love to know if the responses are in French vs. Sociology, vs. Law vs. Chemistry, etc. I'm a grad student in Business (management). Adding up fellowship, RAship, etc, I take home $30,000. I am humbled that this is more than some of the responses from actual proffies.
  • I’ve wondered about this too, primarily because humanities people complain so much. I am a first-year T-T assistant in the social sciences at a research university on the east coast, 1/1 load this year and 2/2 every year after, starting at $70,000, with the option to teach 2 classes each summer, which would take me up to $84,000. Maybe they do have something to complain about.
  • I must confess I don't have any experience with part-time adjuncts, but the numbers people are reporting simply can't be real. I don't know anyone who'd teach for $3000 a class as some of your quoted numbers suggest.
  • Salaries? Those 6 digit numbers are salaries? For a college professor? I thought some of them might be the GNP for a small country. Explain to me how ANY proffie is worth $154,000?
  • I have a simple solution for those folks who have small salaries and who don't like them. Don't accept them. That's long been my solution for part-timers who I occasionally have to mentor. I tell them, "Don't accept the number." It's fine to complain about making $30,000 for a full time job - which is simply ridiculous - but nobody (I assume) put a gun to your head.
  • I don't believe your "sruvey" for one minute. I've been a college prof for 20 years and I've never even HEARD of one making more than $100,000 a year. Are you sure someone's not just pulling your leg? Perhaps they're not mathematicaly inclined?
  • These 5/5 people? How do they have time to write in? I teach 2/2 and am swamped all day every day.
  • You really shouldn't lump in juco or adjunct salaries with the salaries of full time professors at legitimate universities. It skews the results. I think if you look at your own numbers, regular professors at established and well funded schools make $60k+ and then people who are "freeway flyers" or juco teachers make less. There's less range than your scattering of statistically insignificant numbers would suggest.
  • That list of salaries is so discouraging. I get finished the PhD next semester, and I don't want to be one of those sub $30,000 people. Seriously!

Money - Real Numbers. Completely Unscientific Gathering of Non-Matching Data Sets, But What Exactly Did you Expect Here? We Half-Ass It All the Time.

Thanks to all for fessing up your salary numbers. We got so many in the first 90 minutes of the posting that we thought we'd share them now. Please keep sending info in, though.

And in response to countless notes from the more wonky readers: Yes, we know none of this data is statistically significant or valid or whatever. We know that we didn't collect the "right" information or "matching datasets." But then again we did shoot an 84 yesterday with pars on 16, 17, & 18! And that's really all we care about.
  • $42,500 in your fourth year for a 4/4 at a SLAC? That's hard to believe. We would pay newly graduated adjuncts more than that for a 4/4. I teach at a university in the South in the sciences. I alternate between a 1/1 and a 1/2 load. This year I'll make $105,500; though that includes summer salary off of grants. I'm an associate professor in my eight year.
  • $55,000.
  • I was just hired as an assistant professor at a small state college in the South, in the humanities. Starting salary: $51,000. 3/3 load. Spending freeze in effect: no travel money, can't even get compensated for business cards.
  • I took a full-time job at a University in the Midwest. I am the coordinator for a major ‘weeding’ course and teach about 18 contact hours a week. I make just over $31,000 – plus another $2,000 for giving up half of my summer.
  • $57,000 in chemistry. I occasionally teach summer which pays extra. I do research occasionally with funded summer salary. I still need to sell a gazillion textbooks to make ends meet.
  • I was very fortunate to get a VAP spot at a cool school in upstate NY. $60,000 plus a ton of perks.
  • $47,000, but no raises in the past 3 years.
  • I am starting my second year of T-T at a New England state college, I started at $52,000 but after I was hired I heard I might have been able to negotiate to $55,000 for previous fulltime adjunct work. I was so happy to get hired I basically took their first offer.
  • I teach at the R1 flagship in my state. I'm an assistant professor with a 2/2 load and going into my fifth year. I make $72,000.
  • I teach as an adjunct at a colossal community college in the southwest. I normally teach 8 classes a year (4/4) and my gross (!) pay is $19,000.
  • 3/3 load. $65,000.
  • At my SLAC in the Midwest, I'm fully tenured, teach 4/4, and make $49,500.
  • I'm in my second year at a faux-Ivy in the NE. I teach 2/2 and make $77,750.
  • Non-tenure-track instructor in a very cold state. $32,000.
  • I'm in my tenure year in a large California university. I teach 3/2 (1 release for administration) and make $94,000.
  • $12,000 per annum.
  • I'm in my third year as a Business proffie at a non-descript state university in the northwest. I make $82,000.
  • I'm at a nice community college in Washington State. I make $47,000.
  • I really don't think it's any of anyone's business, but $60,000. And I'm worth every nickel.
  • I'm a second year assistant professor in the social sciences at a medium sized university in the intra-mountain west. I make $68,000.
  • I can't afford a nice car, but my salary sounds pretty good for the 8 months a year i work - $62,5000 for a total of 5 classes.
  • $74,250 as an associate at a very good regional university in the midwest. My salary next year as a full "proffie" will be about $80,000. Not bad for a kid who flunked freshman Psych 2 times and was a Beer Pong champion.
  • I live in Wicked Walter's state! 2/2/1 load, $69,111. (Exactly.)
  • My salary this year is $38,750. I teach 5/5.
  • My salary got CUT this year from $80, 250 to $77,750 and I STILL have to teach 3/3, including 2 freshman sections.
  • I am a part-timer only, but usually teach 10 sections a year (including summer). Last school year it added up to $26,700.
  • Full professor at a Big 10 school. $154,000.
  • I've spent my entire career at a chuch school in the deep south and I make $87,250 as a full professor.
  • I am a humanities prof, so therefore try to remember that I don't teach for money...that'd be obvious if you did my taxes. 4/4 load, 6 freshman classes, $40,000.
  • I finished my Ph.D. three years ago but am still adjuncting in a large northeastern city. If I'm lucky I get about 4 classes a year for about $15,000 per year. Not surprisingly, I have other jobs.
  • 4/3 teaching. Service, of course. $45,000.
  • My very first contract as a t-t prof in math shows a starting salary of $72,500. I want MORE, though...of course.
  • Midwest private liberal arts college; science; second year; 2/2/2; $52k. More if I get a grant.
  • Junior college in the northeast. $70,000, but I've been here forever. Our new hire will make $45,000.
  • I'm not telling YOU. But around $50,000 and I teach 1/1 but have a lot of administrative duties.
  • This is a stupid question and survey. You won't get any usable data. I make $90,000 and I don't teach nights, weekends, summers, or Fridays. Boo-Yah. And, yes, Economists Rule.
  • 3/3 at a large Canadian uni. $66,000.33. (And I'm not kidding.)
  • I know you probably don't want a narrative, but I thought it would help. I am a trailing spouse and left a 2/2 job at $65,000 for part-time adjunct work teaching 6 classes a year that TOTALS $14,400 for the year. So, yeah, I'm pissed off.
  • 5/5; $56,000.
  • 4/4 - $70,000.
  • 2/1 (full research load including grad student mentoring) @ $97,5000.
  • Party school in the southwest, $48,000.
  • $77,700, about to be cut to $72,000, for a 2-2 load at a public R1 institution in a high-cost-of-living state. I am an Advanced Associate about to go up to Full, and have been there for 10 years. Includes publish-or-perish performance reviews every 2-3 years and a serious service burden.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Bitchy Bear From Boston Swings By To Straighten Us All the Fuck Out on Coupling, Ambition, and How We Spend Our Careers.

Ok, so now we are talking about Mike's decision to 'settle' for lack of a kinder way to put it. These types of discussions are interesting to me because I am ambitious. I wasn't held enough as a child so now my sense of self depends entirely on success, or the trappings of success. I already know this. I tried therapy and didn't work. Now I go with dirty martinis and scoring one now and then on my main grad school rival. He and I are not unlike Mapp and Lucia, our petty rivalry enacted with operatic fervor. I should be more evolved than this, but I am, alas, not. And neither is he. Oh, it's delicious fun, and since there hasn't been anything good on TV since they canceled Dynasty, it gives me something to do. So I scored one off him by finishing sooner. He scored one off me by getting a better first job at a higher salary in a much better institution. I scored one off him by getting a job an expensive private and turning down the job he moved to this last year in a state with steep pay cuts and furloughs.

Yes, some misguided souls may think life is about being happy with who you are and what you have, but we all know it's about the ticks in the win column and the toys which accompany those.

This is in stark contrast with my nonacademic spouse who, having no ambition to speak of, quit the game he was in to follow me. Well, not so much quit as retired by 40 because he had made so much money as a cubicle rat (oh, wait: cubicle "flower") that he could afford to just ... stop ... working. This is in addition to this wonderfully useful thing called "family money" that certainly doesn't exist in mine. So he is all of four years older than me, he's retired, and I am in a job where my title still involves the word "assistant." For many of you, this will not compute because you got your PhDs going straight through, and you started as an assistant in your 20s. For those of us who went out into "the real world" to work for awhile and then went back for the PhD, we were older when we started down the academic road, which is slow going anyway. All of my friends who started with me down my original professional trajectory have titles like "Chief" and "Directing" and "Managing" and "Poobah" while my title is "Assistant." This is even more depressing because even though I am in a professional field which loves to give lip service to valuing the faculty's professional experience, the silverbacks treat me like an older, uglier, yet-fully-in-need-of-condescension version of the shiny new 27 year-old assistant proffies in my cohort, who are all perky-breasted, wide-eyed young things that hang on the silvers' every word. Nice kids, all of 'em, but kids nonetheless. I am an (old) woman without a country.

Thus the academic-nonacademic marriage does provide a reality check about ambition. Still, nothing gets my back up like the phrase "the reason academic politics are so petty is that the stakes are so small." Would you spare me? The reason why Dilbert is so funny is that we all basically work in the place with the same people, from incompetent Peter-principle bosses to shiftless coworkers. It's not the assumption that academic politics are petty which sets me off; it's the idea that office politics everywhere else are somehow non-petty. While academics supposedly fritter away time on silly things and inconsequential squabbles, people in the Real World are engaged in struggles of life-or-death import, like figuring out how to do Lady Gaga's hair, improve pre-packaged cake frosting, and developing pharmaceuticals to help silverbacks get it up. Get the picture? Oh, I'm sure it's unheard of in the Real World to scheme over things like office space and salaries, right? Uh-huh. This is not to say that all of the "real world" is silly; people do work that saves lives every day. But so do we in academia. Some of us are, in fact, working to try to cure cancer and AIDS and prevent car crashes. And just like the people who try to figure out how to make cake frosting and sex better, many of us academics work at things which make this rotten world sweeter and more pleasant, like the life of the mind.

So even though we are all in the academic context, there are really really different jobs within that context. There is usually at least one essay a year in the Chronicle berating young graduates not to think they "are too good for teaching jobs." That essay makes me want to barf every single time because it's not that I think I am "too good" for a 5/5 teaching load, it's that I don't want that job, just like I don't want a bunch of other jobs ranging from US President to homicide detective. A friend recently got tenure at a nearby community college, and he's been swaggering around attempting to rub it in. I'm happy for him, but I really wish he would stop acting like I'll crumble into a fit of jealousy at any moment. I don't want tenure at a community college. It's not that I think I am "too good" for it; it's that I don't really enjoy teaching that much. I prefer writing. If I were faced with the choice of a teaching job or going back to my profession in the "real world" I would go back to the real world. Is that so wrong? If you yearn to be in front of a classroom, rock on, and who cares what your advisor and peers think. Frack 'em. But let's not pretend the questions Mike has grappled with are all just a matter of irrelevant ambitions and specious hierarchies, though some types of academic jobs and settings do (unfairly) have more status than others.

These questions also come down to what you want to spend your time doing, and that is a reasonable criteria on which to make a life decision.

Mike, from one regular columnist/punching bag here to another: Best of luck. It takes time to figure out what you really want given the hand you're dealt. Now I've got to go and figure out how to make sure my rival knows I just got asked to give a keynote. Maybe I'll circulate the program via the proffie listserv...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carla Flood.

A fair amount of material has come in the past 2 days concerning Carla, Mike, and the current battle between the Ivies and the "rest of us poor fucking schlubs who went to East Central State University of Podunkville." Below are some of our favorite bits.
  • I pity your assistant; what is he supposed to learn from you with your callous disregard for teaching? Or perhaps he's just another "nickel wrapper" whose existence serves to furnish a comfortable room for you in the Ivory Tower?
  • Don't forget, Carla: you would never have gotten as far as you have today without teachers. Try and show a little gratitude.
  • Oh, I see. Carla's a LOSER.
  • Carla, you and Ivy can piss off to whatever self-congratulatory circle-jerk you two so graciously took time off from. Your disdain for teachers, students and the classroom in general is nothing short of morally repugnant and I hope to the Sweet Lord Jesus (who is the Christ) that you never inflict yourselves on anyone who actually gives a goddamn about your field - whatever the hell that might be. I don't hate you because you're both from an Ivy league. I don't hate you because you're ambitious. I don't hate you because you've got nice jobs. I hate you because you're insufferable fucking pricks.
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to focus entirely on research instead of teaching, raising a family, or growing tomatoes. But Carla is banking that she'll produce produce brilliant research that will change the world, like the smallpox vaccine, the Internet, and theory of relativity. The vast majority of research is read only by a handful of specialists as a professional courtesy - tracts on gender politics in country-house poems, ten-year studies that produce no conclusions. The odds are stacked against her, but Carla is prepared to work hard and not complain. She may very well succeed; I have to admit that she seems fiercely driven and her reasoning is sound: teaching isn't less valuable than research, just different.
  • Good for you, Carla, that you're just so much better than everyone else. Way to go. Yay you - I'm sure your Nobel is already in the mail. My question to you is: Why do you feel such a compulsion to convince everyone of how important you and your work is? Why do you have to beat the dead horse about what an elite school you went to?
  • This sort of nonsense drives me crazy -- the idea that career trumps life, that one measures one's life in conference papers given and articles published, that intellectual banter is only to be had with other careerists. But what really bugs me is her talk about training. I hear such talk often as part of a rhetoric of humanities professionalism -- "our training," "our graduate students are trained to," and so on. In humanities study, I'd suggest, there's no such thing as training. Training is systematic, rigorous. Reading and learning are relatively haphazard matters, with courses taken for all sorts of reasons, and works read in no uniform sequence. Thomas Merton had a great story about walking into the wrong room and ending up in a great class with Mark Van Doren. Of course if "training" means something like what people do with dogs -- obedience, all that -- maybe Clever Carla has been well-trained. Paper-trained.
  • I suggest that Mr. Ivy and Clever Clara get together and groom each other like the apes they are. Even if their scholarship has some social utility, which they have not even suggested themselves, these people are cancers on the body politic. Teaching the young, now, there is something with some actual value. And on a personal level, can you imagine engaging in some "intellectual banter" with either of these smug little creeps? Okay, back to rolling the nickles . . . I can do it on the backs of my four published books, stacked atop the pile of leading journals containing my publications.
  • I will bet dollars to doughnuts that neither Carla nor Mike's respondent attended Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Don't these writers know that "Ivy" is code for "second-tier ag school in upstate NY" or "Penn?" And also strongly implies, "I went to a shitty undergraduate institution and am now pathetically trying to overcompensate?" Can't we just agree to abandon the word "Ivy" to the desperate parents seeking to impress their neighbors with their kids' college admissions?
  • Ivy and Carla make me want to shoot myself in the face! Since when does having an Ivy League degree exempt you from being a person and make you a special superhuman research machine? I attend graduate school at an Ivy, and though I would probably not ever admit it to my adviser, my greatest ambition is just to be a happy person. And if having a few publications is a part of that, then fine, and if having a dog and living in some tree-lined town in the Midwest and teaching at a third-tier liberal arts college is a part of that, then that's fine too. Your scholarship won't ever change the world, but your behavior as a person and a member of your family might.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dr. Mindbender on the Crying Burden.

Crying students happen. I take no pleasure in making them cry, and even though I’m a rat bastard by nature, I try to channel my well-stifled inner Buddha and have compassion when dealing with distressed students. Kent’s column about a crying student gives rise to two questions, though: First, why did it take so long for “Jason” to realize he wasn’t going to pass, let alone get a C? Second, why did “Jason” stick around and cry in front of Kent? The first question’s answer probably has something to do with generic student idiocy, so we can let it pass. The second one, though, puzzles me, ‘cuz the one time that I realized I’d utterly fucked myself, I didn’t stick around.

Back in the day, when I was a wee undergrad, I took a speech class. And boy howdy, was it great. I loooooved that shit. Getting up in front of people and pontificating? Hellz, yeah. The catch was, this class met at 9:30 AM, and I wasn’t so good at getting to it on time, partially ‘cuz I’m a night owl by nature and partially ‘cuz I got seriously loaded most every evening, making mornings come right early.

Disaster struck at midterms, when the instructor, Ms. Schickelgruber, scheduled the exam for 8:30 AM, an hour before our regular class meeting. No one, least of all myself, was surprised when I slept through it. But then I slept through the makeup test. And the makeup test for the makeup test. That’s when Ms. Schickelgruber’s patience wore out. She said, “No more makeup tests,” when I cruised in at my usual 9:32 arrival time and begged forgiveness. Stunned, I planted ass among the other students and tried to play it cool, but my brain started to blare, Failure, Will Robinson! Failure!, and sniffling commenced. Seconds before the waterworks opened up for real, I scuttled for the exit, found an empty office, and holed up for a cry. I even called home and blubbered to Dad.

After class ended, I returned to pick up my backpack and talked to Ms. S. about my grade. The news wasn’t good: if I aced the final exam, I would scrape a C, by tenths of a point. This brought me down even further and made me want to cry again, but I just nodded and went on my miserable way back to the dorm, where I snorfled some more.

What I specifically didn’t do was stick around and cry in front of the professor. Even though Ms. Schickelgruber was ssssmokin’ hot and seemed to like me as a person, she wasn’t my mom. Ms. S.’s job was to lead the class, evaluate my work, and dole out a grade at the end. I did appreciate her kindly demeanor when I collected my backpack after class was over -- and in that respect, I’m down with Kent’s compassion kick -- but as far as class went, the lady cracked the whip over my ass; I both deserved it and knew I deserved it, and I didn’t burden her with my tears. Is it too much to expect the same courtesy from my own students?


Moderator Note: And, yes, like, OMG, that IS Dawson Leery. Good grief. You can't BELIEVE how many people wanted confirmation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another Swipe at The Recent Ivy League Idiot. (And We Confess There are LOTS of non-Ivy Idiots Just Like Him Who We Hear From As Well.)

"I see this in so many of my older colleagues. I tell them about my recent publication and they tell me about their family or their golf game. As if it's the same thing."

Has it occurred to you, ambitious douche bag that you are, that for them, it IS the same thing? That they consider their families -- GASP -- as important, achievement-wise, as you think your publication on Einstein's Theory of Booger Dimensions, or Hegel's Fart Assonances? I know this may come as a shock to you, but not everyone is a publication-grubbing toady who would put gaining another CV entry or a citation in someone else's pissant little paper as more important than a round of golf with an elderly parent, or making their eight-year-olds school performance of "The Three Piggy Opera."

"But teaching is so low on my list of priorities, and was instilled upon me by my mentors all through grad school."

It sounds as if you're the one with priorities out of whack, and it sounds as if your mentors have the same issues. Let's be realistic, Researchflake. How many people are really going to read your article? Maybe two dozen will pay close attention -- and half of those will be reading with their knives out, looking to carve out a piece of publication turf by proving that you're an idiot who doesn't know she s/he's talking about. Maybe a few dozen more will skim through your article out of idle curiosity. Your spouse or partner will read it, stifling yawns and feigning enthusiasm because you're so chuffed, and your parents will probably read it, as it's the only way they can make any connection with you at all, as you've been so busy -- "Cats in the Cradle-style" to actually interact with them. That might make you "mediocre."

I'll bet you that Mike -- teacher that he is, and that you contemptibly call a loser -- has more of an impact and more influence on those who filter through his classrooms than your piddling publications.

Success as a teacher is not mediocrity. It's those teachers that toil in the classroom that make it possible for you to ruminate on your fungus-addled toes in your Ivory Tower, pondering your latest publication praising Plato's puckered prepuce. Success as a teacher does not equal mediocrity. It means his priorities are different -- I'd argue more realistic and more noble -- than yours. Certainly more worthwhile than "publication whore bingo" game which you seem to think is the pinnacle of success.