• December 20, 2014

On Gratitude in Academe

An Academic in American Illustration Careers

Brian Taylor

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Brian Taylor

Academics are trained to have a negative outlook: We find fault with one another's work, with our institutions, with our society, and, most of all, with ourselves.

Those tendencies confer some strength. The struggle of constantly testing ideas may lead to the most reliable conclusions. Our inherent skepticism can make professors into the conscience of our society. And our professional drive toward higher standing can lead us to accomplish more than we might if we cherished contentment over advancement.

But there is a price for all those advantages: Academe has a culture of ingratitude.

After all, gratitude suggests satisfaction, and we are not supposed to be satisfied. If we are grateful, then it means we are accepting the status quo, which is, almost by definition, always intolerable. In some quarters that I know quite well (and partly support), Thanksgiving is seen as almost a stern command to be grateful with one's meager portion and not to question, for example, the increasing extremes of wealth and opportunity. In that context, gratitude is for suckers.

There is merit to that position. But I want—in the spirit of the season—to reflect on some of the things that make an academic career worthwhile:

Students: They are the reason we exist as a profession. Since we're not immortal, we have to transfer what we know to the next generation. They can be exasperating—lazy, entitled, rude—but they are also, by a wide margin, the most rewarding part of being a professor. I often wonder about the impact of my scholarship or the purpose behind endless committee meetings, but I have never doubted the value of teaching something—even something seemingly small, like the art of punctuation—to a student who sincerely wants to learn and who might benefit from what I have to teach.

Scholarship: It's easy to say that some scholarly work is wasteful, but it is hard to know what may be useful in the future. And the building of scholarly credentials—the maintenance of an engaged academic mind—is essential to good teaching. Scholarly work is never a solitary enterprise, even when one works alone; research requires that we engage in a conversation with other scholars and build on what they have done.

Conferences: Apart from impersonal journal articles, conferences are the primary means by which I connect with other academics. I particularly like small conferences, where most participants have something in common, and where the possibility of helpful suggestions and future collaboration is greater. The larger conventions, like the Modern Language Association, can be alienating. (Who doesn't have sour memories of the academic job searches held at such meetings?) But they can also be places to see the epic struggles of our profession, to present our projects to potential editors, and to reconnect with far-flung colleagues.

Colleagues: Because there is so little mobility in academe, feuds between faculty members can incubate and fester for decades. But such tensions are nearly always minor in comparison to the intellectual, social, and even spiritual support we receive from the people with whom we work. The web of relations between mentors, peers, and junior colleagues is an essential—and deeply rewarding—part of the maintenance, growth, and transfer of knowledge to the next generation.

Libraries and librarians: Our colleagues who are information professionals provide us with the scholarly resources we need for our research and teaching, and they do so with minimal recognition and considerable pressure to adapt to rapidly changing technologies. While the Internet has been a boon to scholarly research, the physical library is—more than stadiums, more than student centers—the heart of the academic enterprise: It's a place for solitary reflection as well as serendipitous encounters in the context of intellectual seriousness. Nothing can replace libraries as places, even if they are no longer primarily based on the circulation of printed materials.

Administrators: They are easily vilified, and sometimes they deserve it (like all of us). We may disagree with their choices, but administrators typically have the larger picture in mind. That is not to say they are always right (particularly some who treat higher education as a for-profit business or an ideological tool). But as a group, administrators work harder than most of us to maintain our institutions in the face of increasing uncertainty, economic stress, constant criticism, and, sometimes, outright hostility.

Philanthropy: While higher education is an indisputable public good—and there is always the danger of undue influence from wealthy donors—many of our institutions have been built and sustained by private support. Since I was an undergraduate, I've benefited from scholarships, fellowships, travel grants, and, most recently, the support of a major foundation to create a program that combines what I most valued in my own education with more recent technological innovations. But behind all of that have been the institutions themselves, which were created by private support long before I arrived.

Shared governance: The opportunity to have a respected voice in the policies of one's institution is what makes academe fundamentally different from a business or a bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the preservation of shared governance requires vigilance—and even fierceness—on the part of faculty members. That ferocity is hard to maintain in a time when most of us feel lucky to be working at all.

Flexibility: Academe is notoriously inflexible when it comes to finding jobs; many of us have to move to places far from anywhere we would regard as home. The problem is compounded if we have partners who need an academic position, too. Once we're securely employed, however, most academics have some autonomy in the hours they work: when classes are scheduled, when we hold office hours, and when we conduct our research. You could say that we have the freedom to work any 70 hours a week that we would like, but having some flexibility makes a large difference for households juggling two careers and possibly some children, as well as all the other responsibilities of life.

An office: I spent a good number of years migrating between spaces that were never really mine, where I could never put down roots in the form of books, a computer, and maybe a few geeky knickknacks, so having a place at the college is particularly important to me. It pays psychological and professional dividends as a secure, comfortable "laboratory" for my scholarly work, a place of retreat and recharging between teaching and meetings, and a place where my students can find me, and I can advise them with lots of resources on hand.

Luck: Anyone who is a tenured professor has had to make many sacrifices to obtain that position. But nowadays, the qualitative difference between those who hold privileged posts and those who are working part time in contingent positions is smaller, as they say in contested elections, than the margin of error. There are many people who deserve tenure-track jobs and will never get them. Somehow I won the lottery, and I am grateful that I get to be grateful for all the other things that go along with that good fortune.

But I do not want this column to be a lure for would-be academics. During the last few years, I've had an overwhelming feeling that we are entering a period of dramatic, rapid change in higher education. There are many good things about the academic life, as I've understood it, that are probably not going to last, even to the end of this decade. As we are constantly reminded, traditional academic careers—and all the privileges connected with them—are, as many administrators say, "no longer sustainable in this economic climate."

Whatever happens, I am grateful for what I have now. And perhaps the best way to show that is to deserve my good fortune and to try to extend it to others.

Thomas H. Benton is the pen name of William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College, in Holland, Mich. He writes about academic culture.

Comments

1. rear_view_mirror - November 23, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I have appreciated this writer's work before, and said so. I have to say, honestly though, before I'm going to believe that the average tenured person is working 70 hours a week, I would have to see a survey or something. It's not that I want to spit in somebody's eye. It's just that that's what I think, and I doubt I'm the only one.

2. rab60 - November 24, 2010 at 06:07 am

Colleagues: I would add colleagues in the profession but not necessarily fellow faculty members. For example, I have worked with a colleague from the UK since the early 80's. Our families have visited and taken trips together. The good friends that I have made in the profession are some of the most interesting people that I know. This is invaluable. Not many other professions can match it.

3. drjilliantweiss - November 24, 2010 at 07:10 am

It is easy to criticize, and, of course, critical thinking is one of the products we peddle. But it would not be difficult to imagine a far worse environment. My own situation has many faults, but the purpose of criticism is improvement, not destruction. Thank you for pointing out the many things for which we can be grateful, even as we recognize how very, very far we have to go to approach perfection.

4. busyslinky - November 24, 2010 at 07:26 am

The job of a tenured professor in a University setting is the best jobs in the world. Bar none. There are just too many advantages that we have, none is comparable. I guess it is a lot about luck.

5. rear_view_mirror - November 24, 2010 at 07:56 am

swagato: Class preparation time + classroom teaching hours + time spent grading papers + office hours spent consulting with students + time spent at meetings, and doing research, and applying for grants, and anything else that is necessary and required (think form 1040 schedule C) = total time worked per week. It's an arithmetic problem.
If you chat about work in your spare time with friends, that's doesn't count as working.

6. dawford - November 24, 2010 at 08:19 am

Nothing about staff, eh?

Nice.

Good to know all my behind the scenes, boring, bureaucracy-tangled administrative work - work that keeps the department afloat so the "scholars" can concentrate on writing obscure articles about their pet subjects while earning three to four times more money than me - is so deeply appreciated.

7. lotsoquestions - November 24, 2010 at 08:56 am

My husband works in a cubicle with no windows at his nonacademic job. I am reminded every day of lucky I am to have my beautiful office -- with a door!

8. anon1972 - November 24, 2010 at 09:22 am

@rear_view_mirror: You left out time spent on email with students, administrators, and colleagues about strictly work-related topics (reviewing drafts of committee minutes, reviewing drafts of student papers, answering endless questions (and I do mean ENDLESS questions), offering tactful advice or input on those aspects of campus life in which faculty still have some input, etc.); and time spent advising. At any given moment I am academic advisor to 25-30 students, thesis advisor to 2 or 3, and career advisor to all our graduate students (and these are just my *official* advising duties), which adds up to a lot of face time and a lot of email time. During the semester I routinely work 14-16 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus a few hours over the weekend. And my tenured colleagues do too.

9. m_c_mdelta - November 24, 2010 at 09:50 am

As an undergradtuate who spends an exorbitant amount of time in the Sociology department at my university, and who has several friends working on Ph.D.'s while also teaching two classes (and watching their funding being cut out from under them) I undestand and apprectiate the work of our professors. On several occasions I have intruded on a professor's time and have never had one tell me they were too busy to talk about my life and my goals and offer serious advice. I want to go on to get my graduate degree and eventually teach and do research and I hope that the environment of the acadame does not disintegrate before I get there....

10. pannapacker - November 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

I do regret that staff are not mentioned here; they were in the original essay, and I specifically described the work of technologists on whom I depend as much as librarians, administrators, and colleagues. Some sections were cut for reasons of length, and, no doubt, a dearth of eloquence on my part.

I should add here, however, that staff are often paid more than faculty, and they often have more job security and benefits, since most professors are now part-timers.

Regarding 70 hours per week: I know some professors work that much, particularly if they are chairs or directors of programs. I believe the average for professors is 50 hours per week, although most of us have busy periods during which 70 hours is about right, too. My reference to 70 hours here is an old cliche about academic flexibility, not the outcome of a research project.

Happy Thanksgiving, Academe!

11. frankschmidt - November 24, 2010 at 10:34 am

You also left out the joy of never being bored.

12. impossible_exchange - November 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

I once did a stint as a manager at a major restaurant chain. The base schedule was 55 scheduled hours a week (this is pretty standard) and no good restaurant manager leaves on time; there is always something else to do. So those long days always ended up being longer.
I'd worked in restaurants for years and actually had worked much longer hours in other positions for years without burning out, however, I'd never had such an inflexible 55 hour minimum. It was miserable and I didn't last that long at that job.

I have worked 70-80 hour weeks as a manager in a handful of restaurants, often for weeks and months on end.
But I have never worked more hours over longer spans of time in my life than I do now as an academic.
But I have never had more flexibility about those hours.
I typically only have about 20 or so "scheduled" work hours. The rest are self-driven (which is much harder than boss driven) and self-scheduled hours of grading, misc-research no my own but for obligations, misc-other work for obligations, and then literally as much time as I can give is spent on my own scholarship.
I could work every waking minute, heck every minute and still have things that I wish I could do but can't.

13. catliu - November 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm

As a mother and tenured prof, I learned the value of taking time off and I am grateful I don't have to work 70 hours a week. Why so masochistic academics?

14. stinkcat - November 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

All these tenured academics working 70 hours a week and they still have time to make comments on chronicle.com. How do they fit it all in?

15. procrustes - November 24, 2010 at 01:19 pm

All of these claims of 70 hour weeks remind one of the joke about the lawyer who shows up at the Pearly Gates saying how can I be dead, I'm only 32. St. Peter responds that according to his billable hours he is 103.

16. jrllanes - November 24, 2010 at 01:36 pm

My colleague down the hall says he works 24/7
Twenty-four hours a week, seven months our of the year.

17. jthelin - November 24, 2010 at 02:34 pm

Author Benton characterizes academics as "negative." My small but important distinction is that they are and should be "critical." Being negative or mean spirited or unfair or ungrateful are not appropriate.

I share the gratitude author Benton cites for many roles and experiences in academe -- but here is one where I respectfully disagree when he writes:


"Administrators: They are easily vilified, and sometimes they deserve it (like all of us). We may disagree with their choices, but administrators typically have the larger picture in mind. That is not to say they are always right (particularly some who treat higher education as a for-profit business or an ideological tool). But as a group, administrators work harder than most of us to maintain our institutions in the face of increasing uncertainty, economic stress, constant criticism, and, sometimes, outright hostility."

Speak for yourself and your own institution. I think at m any flagship state universities the central administration is aloof, highly compensated and, above all, they most certainly do NOT have vision. They do not enter into significant conversations in the campus or public forum. I wish I were wrong.

18. df1995 - November 24, 2010 at 05:06 pm

The three best things about an academic career: June, July, and August.

19. rear_view_mirror - November 24, 2010 at 07:08 pm

Some people have a preoccupation with their job that may cross the line into addiction. They talk as though going beyond what is required is a requirement.
I looked around on the web for information about how many hours per week are put in by the average professor. All rely on first hand accounts, rather than someone else observing. That doesn't mean they're false, but it is relevant.

20. fergbutt - November 24, 2010 at 08:09 pm

70 hours. Not just an estimate, but a cliche. Add the contact hours to the office hours, add that to the prep and grading time, and I come up with 8 hours a day. For 2 or 3 days per week. C'mon professors, quit counting the wandering around, sitting around, hours spent just thinking.

21. 49k95 - November 24, 2010 at 08:31 pm

In addition to teaching, office hours, research and class preperation we should add department meetings (such a waste of time).

22. ethnowilliams - November 25, 2010 at 01:50 am

The department secretary, who manages 22 of us, just sent us all an e-mail letting us know that she'd come in and watered our plants for the Thanksgiving weekend. She's retiring at the end of December and won't be replaced (we'll have no support staff in our building at ALL!), but today she came in on a 20 degree day when the college was closed due to heavy snow so that she could get our book orders finished for next quarter. We will miss her, and we are grateful for her years-long stabilizing presence in our lives.

23. silvan - November 25, 2010 at 02:41 am

I just had to say something regarding the disbelief about academic's working hours: I joined Chronicle just for this.

First, any academic could fill any amount of time with useful work: it is not a question of finishing what one has to do, but deciding what of the things one could do that are not important enough to actually accomplish. This is a decision I have to make daily. I get misunderstanding about this from students all the time: but it would only take you 30 minutes, why can't you... Because that particular thing is not more important than the item I did spend those 30 minutes on.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are so many things that are important and cannot be skipped that working hours can get out of hand. It just so happens (as part of my obsessive-compulsive personality) that I've been recording exactly what hours I work and various other heath things for my doctor. I recently had a week that I felt I did *way* too much work, but it was all absolutely necessary. I just added up the hours: 108!! Now, that was ridiculous, and a combination of being behind due to a period of ilnness and also a major failure on my part to correctly estimate how long a particular task would take.

This week is aiming to be what I would consider on the "heavy" side of normal: it looks to be 61 hours if I can get done the times I expect this week (I'm in Europe, no T-day holiday here). Based on that count, I think I'm working maybe 7 hours more than I'd ideally do this week, so my "normal" work week is probably around 55.

But when the base is 55, any pushes beyond make the average higher. However, being in Eurpote, I do get 7 weeks paid holiday -- I probably about 4 weeks of that, but I believe it is considerably more than my US colleagues.

(And June, July, August? The months when I get the most research done, and often spend more hours than normal because it's the only time I have that I can spend uninterrupted time on research.)

24. rear_view_mirror - November 25, 2010 at 09:52 am

silvan: Let's suppose someone with a different approach to work had your job. The hours put in could be many fewer, correct? Your attitude that you have never done enough is just one type of person.
I have known tenured people who indeed work very hard, but mostly at something else. The teaching gig is treated as a second job.

25. deptlanguages - November 25, 2010 at 02:18 pm

rear_view_mirror: I have been following your comments with interest. You claim to know stuff about tenure professors. Why don't you reveal what you are? Adjunct? Visiting? Instructor?
You seem resentful of tenure faculty.
Just asking,
D.

26. rear_view_mirror - November 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm

deptlanguages: regarding the individuals that I had in mind when I wrote #25, I don't like what they did. They routinely blew off office hours and spent research days at other employment. As for the individuals referred to in reply #20, I have plenty of respect for what they do though I think there may be diminishing returns in such a high level of preoccupation with one part of life. But, as professors, they cannot be faulted. I wouldn't recommend anyone work 108 hours a week; it seems unhealthy. But then it's not for me to say.
From casual reading and acquaintances, I gather that 50 hours per week is closer to the norm, but if Dr. Benton says seventy for him, then I believe that.
I don't think my feelings about tenured people would influence a trend, but I think tenure is better protected when people write things about it that the public is likely to believe.
The author reiterates that his reference to seventy hours a weeks was not the result of a study. But if he's going to throw numbers around, questions may be raised.

27. silvan - November 26, 2010 at 02:39 am

rear_view_mirror: how funny! (meant in all honesty as gentle amusement) I did not follow up my post with other observations that I had thought of, but now perhaps I will: I would say that I consider that I, in fact, spend less hours working than many. For sure, less than my colleagues in the US. I am very jealous of my time for my family and my hobbies--I'm distressed this week that I am still slightly "over working", but know that as I am still filtering through the repurcussions of my illness this is to be expected and things will return to normal soon. I take weekends off except in extraordinary circumstances (no email, even); I walk away from my office at the end of the day and do not do any additional work at home; I do take about 4 weeks of my 7 weeks holiday, whereas I have collegaues that take only 1 or 2 weeks.

I did not say that I have never done enough, just that there is always the possible of doing more in an academic job. This is true whether a person feels they "should" be doing more or not. I personally do feel I've done enough. I regularly make decisions that a particular thing I could do related to my job is simply not worth doing, and I am confortable with that. Other people's threshold may be set differently. However, it is the people without a threshold, who for some reason think they must accopmlish it all, that are in real trouble: it's just not possible. I think that might be the type of person rear_view_mirror is referring to who has never done enough.

I believe on the scale of academics, I am on the lower end of hours worked. I know I am in my particular building at least, as I can see their working hours. There are surely people who work less and do a worse job; there are probably people who work less hours (and probably much more efficiently than I, as well!) and do just as good or better a job.

I agree: 108 hours in unhealthy, and I only mentioned it because I was completely blown away by the sum when I calculated it. I did not even imagine it was *possible* to work that many hours, but, apparently, it is. I do note that nearly all those hours were teaching related: I just could not face the thought of letting down 180 students in one class and 258 in another, and that is why I did it--perhaps not the best decision, but one I made and am comfortable with. I'll never get my self in that place again, however! It was a rather drastic learning experience.

28. rear_view_mirror - November 26, 2010 at 02:57 am

Silvan, they're lucky to have you. Maybe one of us will find a study about average number of hours worked.

29. prof291 - November 26, 2010 at 08:50 pm

An article and an essay (based on survey data) supporting the argument that faculty work long hours:

Jacobs, J.A. and Winslow, S.E. 2004. Overworked faculty: Job stresses and family demands. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 596: 104-129.

Jacobs, J.A. 2004. The faculty time divide. Sociological Forum 19: 3-27.

I participated in another discussion like this where someone demanded non-self-reported data. For the moment, there is no study like that, and unless you want someone following you around your house or office, there won't be. Average faculty work weeks are 50-60 hours. That's not the worst among jobs out there, but it's not trivial. There is no credible evidence of any sort supporting the myth of the slacker professor.

30. stinkcat - November 26, 2010 at 09:58 pm

Surely you don't suggest that there aren't plenty of slackers in academia?

31. lutoslawski - November 27, 2010 at 12:17 am

Being a tenured college professor is truly the best job there is. I felt like I had won the lottery when I was offered my current position, and that feeling has not diminished in the fifteen years since then. Thank you for the reminder; I'm a very lucky guy.

32. rear_view_mirror - November 27, 2010 at 03:47 am

Re response #30: I can't see anything in these articles about whether the number of hours per week referred to is during the semester, or throughout the 52 weeks of the year, so I guess it is just during the semester. So 55 hours a week times, say, 28 weeks, product divided by 52 weeks, is just under 30 hours per week. Makes sense?

33. rear_view_mirror - November 27, 2010 at 10:37 am

Sorry double post. I am sure some, maybe most (probably not all) professors are busy with research all summer. How much though?
At any rate the author's gratitude is appropriate. Many folks work, if not greater numbers of hours, many hours, at jobs that are closer to drudgery, for poorer money.

34. 12068801 - November 27, 2010 at 06:46 pm

Of COURSE there are slackers in academia, just as there are slackers in any line of work. But I've noticed that a clockwatcher in (for example) a receptionist position who spends half a day playing Solitaire or on Facebook is still considered to be 'working', just because he is at his desk, but to many people I may only be working half a day if I'm in my office only for 4 or 5 hours. Nobody but other parents can see me putting a lecture together at swim practice, or opening up the books after I get the kids to bed! Much of my job feels more like piecework, in that I am judged, if not compensated, on the basis of the work I do rather than the scheduling of my hours.

35. rear_view_mirror - November 28, 2010 at 08:02 am

There are slackers, there are workaholics, there are the chronically underpaid, and there is sinecure.

36. rear_view_mirror - November 28, 2010 at 08:17 am

And there are satisfactory employees who are paid about the right amount.

37. stinkcat - November 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

Very well put rear view mirror.

38. cincinnatus - November 28, 2010 at 04:06 pm

While I do not doubt (nay, I know from experience) that there are intervals when one is required to complete 70-hour work weeks, I find that figure as a blanket average to be highly dubious, even for untenured faculty members. It's not plausible. I would suggest that somewhere around 50 hours seems appropriate and realistic. Of course, my "data"--like that of other contributors here--is "merely" anecdotal. But most other faculty members I know and associate with--again, including untenured folks--have vibrant family lives, something that is simply not possible if one is averaging 70-80 hours per week at work. I do not imply that faculty are swimming in free time (obviously not), but suggestions that we're all frayed workaholics seems misleading. Obviously, some faculty members _are_ workaholics, but, ultimately, I see no reason why this _must_ be the case for those who choose the academic profession, including for those who wish to do well in their fields.

39. rear_view_mirror - November 28, 2010 at 05:38 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong: two things no one seems to dispute, so far: (1) in academia and particularly after tenure, the number of hours worked per week is to some degree, left to the discretion of the individual and could vary substantially, and (2) the situation where this is the least true is the adjunct who makes his living primarily, or completely, as a college teacher.

40. cincinnatus - November 28, 2010 at 05:41 pm

rear_view_mirror: No doubt true. And?

41. rear_view_mirror - November 28, 2010 at 06:04 pm

And while we believe the public grossly underestimates the amount of work that it takes to teach in college, from their point of view, a lot of it works on the honor system. How wrong are they?

42. staffmember - November 29, 2010 at 03:10 pm

I admit I have always doubted the claims about how many hours faculty members work. But my own observations are anecdotal, too, so who knows? Perhaps it is that I get tired of faculty asking me how my summer vacation was, not seeming to understand that, at most, I took 2 weeks off, not 3 months.

But I do find it annoying that so many faculty reference their dreams of being staff members who are "lucky" to have "9 to 5" jobs. Newsflash: salaried professionals in any field (and that includes support staff and administrators in the academy) do not necessarily work 9 to 5. We, too, bring our work home at nights and on weekends. That is, after all, part of the definition of being "salaried." Our work is done when our work is done, not when the proverbial bell rings at the end of the day!

Sometimes I suspect faculty members' accounts of their hours are inflated by the fact they are comparing themselves to the hours they believe their support staff are *not* working.

It's interesting, amusing, occasionally infuriating.

43. rear_view_mirror - November 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Jacobs and Winslow are working on a new study which will examine the question "does having a job interfere with your spare time?"

44. cincinnatus - November 30, 2010 at 09:41 am

rear_view: I'm not quite sure what your agenda is here. Like you, I am skeptical of claims that faculty members _average_ 70 hours of work (unless they are workaholics, in which case the system does allow for that). But, on the other hand, to buy into the stereotype that the average tenured faculty member is a spoiled sinecure who begrudges putting in more than his allotted 20 hours is equally absurd. Not that you are doing this (buying into that assumption), but you do propose that, aside from the minimal duties of actually showing up for class, etc., the rest of a professor's work, contractual, expected, or otherwise, occurs on the "honor system." This, I think, is a gross mischaracterization of academic work. The "honor system" implies that no one is checking up on faculty, that no work (or lack of work) can be traced back to those responsible, and that, ultimately, no one cares how much work a faculty member does--and one couldn't do anything about it even if he did care. This is obviously not true. Academic work comes with expectations and tangible results. Those results--which are expected--require much intellectual labor, even for the smartest among us. Those faculty who aren't fond of completing the necessary labor are _not_ admired by colleagues. They are _not_ typical, and they are called dead weight. Just because faculty aren't required to materialize strictly between the hours of 9 and 5 doesn't mean they are doing less work than the average staffer or administrator--or that they are underworked.

45. rear_view_mirror - November 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Cincinnatus: My agenda is the same as yours: discussion, challenging assumptions, and finding out what others think. Where did I buy into the stereotype you describe? I asked how wrong is that stereotype, and I might have added, what do we expect the public to believe about the number of hours the average tenure works, year round, and just how do expect them to know the truth when it appears even we don't?
"Sinecure" from reply #36 refers not to the majority of tenures, but to the person you describe above:
"Those faculty who aren't fond of completing the necessary labor are _not_ admired by colleagues. They are _not_ typical, and they are called dead weight." Unless they are taking a real risk of being fired, the academic expectation of their level of productivity is to some degree moot.
The reference to the honor system is about public perceptions and also may suggest that some of us don't love our work as much as we advertise, or may have to do with the public not understanding what it's like to really love your work.

46. jeffery2468 - December 15, 2010 at 09:01 am

Is anyone having problems posting?

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