Category Archives: The Radical Was Once An Adjunct Too

April 19, 2011, 6:40 pm

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun: The Radical Responds To Her Critics

Tenured radical faculty have too much, others have nothing.

This is a follow-up on yesterday’s post, which unexpectedly turned into a brawl. Late-night anonymous commenters had issues with my inability to recognize that they are always right and that I am causing their oppression.  How did this happen? 

Let’s roll the videotape:

I suggested (I deliberately did not make this a law, because I do not believe in coercion and I use my super powers with restraint and wisdom) that people who take full-time visiting faculty jobs should make themselves available to work full time, as opposed to teaching one or two days a week because they are traveling several hours each way from Big City.  Fulfilling this obligation (something that would be a normal expectation anywhere but in academia and e-trading) could mean moving to or near the place of employ, or making arrangements to spend several nights a …

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April 18, 2011, 11:30 am

Are You Getting Your Adjunct On? A Few Do’s And Don’ts For New Members Of The Adjunct Army

Course by course, we build the nation!

Nick Parker’s article about “The Adjunct Economy” in Boston.com is a must-read for anyone in a tenured or a tenure-track job, mainly because our lives are structured so as to obscure the way the majority of our fellow scholars live and work.  As Parker, who teaches at Babson College, notes, adjuncts dominate the academic labor force and have become the new normal.  In Massachusetts, there are over 19,000 adjuncts at work, “nearly 60 percent of the 32,000 or so faculty members in the state,” Parker writes.  “When you factor in graduate-student teachers, who often lead the discussion sections in math and science courses, the figure tops 70 percent.”

This isn’t just a community college, or public university, issue.  For example, did you send your kid to Harvard to be taught by Nobel Prize winners? Think again. “At Harvard, adjuncts accounted for 57…

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May 17, 2010, 12:04 pm

Who — And How Many –Paid For Your Sabbatical This Year?

So what percentage of your faculty is adjunct or contingent labor?

In the first fall faculty meeting at Zenith every year, we vote faculty privileges to a long list of people. It includes athletic staff, librarians, and a long list of adjunct or contingent labor. Some come as post-docs and visiting full-time assistants (relatively well-paid contingent labor with benefits); long-term adjuncts with benefits (mostly in the languages, although there was one women who taught in an interdisciplinary program for well over ten years as an adjunct); and then a string of people brought in to teach a course or two. Lately this budget has gotten hammered as part of Zenith’s attempt to restructure its budget to meet the financial crisis. I didn’t see the list because I was on sabbatical, but it was probably cut to about two thirds of its usual size.

But still: it’s usually about four pages long …

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May 2, 2010, 12:08 pm

Like Sands Through The Hourglass, So Are The Days Of Our Lives: Having The Courage Not To Go To Graduate School

You would think that May would signal the winding down of things at Zenith. In fact, as we all know, the liberal arts college has a tendency to crank things up toward the end of the year. Didn’t spend enough of your budget? There will be a memo asking for suggestions on how to do that. Last year, when I was chair and everyone was in ex post crash-o mentality, we saved a lot of time via a memo telling us that departments and programs were prohibited from spending down at the end of the year, although how they would be able to sift legitimate from illegitimate expenses was not clear. (“Six skateboards? Why did sociology purchase skateboards?”) Prizes and various awards must be given, and we will be solicited for the names of ever-more students to receive them. Committees that have been ruminating on this or that will be rushing legislation to the floor of the last faculty meeting….

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November 10, 2009, 2:18 am

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today


I walked into the second section of my U.S. History survey (1865 to the present, don’tcha know) at Baruch College on November 9, 1989. I taught two sections in a row for $2,000 each which, with the $5,000 I made from the New School, and an occasional donation from my new girlfriend was enough money to live on for a semester. And I was hoping to God that I would get one of the jobs I had applied for.

I didn’t get the big tenure-track job (note to my public: the Tenured Radical has the distinction of losing more jobs to more interesting and highly successful people than anyone else I know.) I did get the one-year job, which was actually supposed to be a three year job, which catapulted me into my current post with Zenith University. But that’s another story for another day.

So I was standing at the lectern in the second section of my U.S. History survey that night after completing my no…

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