• November 25, 2015

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November 25, 2015, 11:24:59 pm *
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News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
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 on: Today at 11:24:14 pm 
Started by clean - Last post by familydoc
I usually love making a big turkey dinner and my hubby usually invites stray co-workers/grad students for the day. This year, we are in a new (dream) city, he's at a new (dream) University and I'm just getting to know my new coworkers at the clinic. So, for the first time in 21 years of marriage, I am NOT cooking dinner and we are invited to someone else's house for Thanksgiving. I am somewhat at a loss this evening, as usually Wednesday night involves lots of prepping for Thursday. Tomorrow is going to be even stranger--what am I going to do with all the free time until it is time to depart?

 on: Today at 11:12:28 pm 
Started by cremebrulee - Last post by cremebrulee
Responding to what I think is most important in the previous posting:

1. Do not document (write up) anything negative for someone else, such as your chair. Keep notes for yourself, but do not put anything negative in writing. Once it's in writing, it can be used against you.

2. After a meeting with the chair, or anyone, write down notes for yourself. They don't have to be a verbatim transcript, just the essence.

3.  I wouldn't send a summary of what was said in the meeting, especially if anything was negative. Just e-mail with thanks to whoever you met with, and a comment about something positive that's happened with your teaching.

Try to focus on what you've done right. And be aware that maybe your chair was just having a bad day, unrelated to you. Unfortunately, that happens.

The Fiona, very rattled by such convos when I was younger

Thanks a lot for all these suggestions, The Fiona! It's really helpful to see this from a different perspective and be prepared for what might happen next. I've been in my current position for slightly over a year and so it will take me longer to know the culture in order to understand if this is being supportive or what. In terms of teaching, I've always been confident and my previous teaching evaluations have been fairly good. But I did remember sharing frustrations and concerns with colleagues from time to time. That's something I started doing with my fellow TAs, but your suggestion of being more upbeat made me wonder about what I have done. This may have nothing to do with what happened, but I'll definitely be more careful of that in the future.

 on: Today at 10:40:13 pm 
Started by eigen - Last post by k_guy
Research proposals (a research statement) is common in my field, so the first part of that is easy. As is the estimate of start-up costs (well, straight-forward rather than easy).

I don't know as I'd be able to give actual startup costs.  I could list what I would need/want, but they might already be available and so would not be a cost.

 on: Today at 10:03:30 pm 
Started by ursula - Last post by quietly
Pita and hummus.
Radishes or cucumbers sliced thin on buttered toast with salt.
Avocado on toast with olive oil and salt.
Vegetarian bacon ("strippleS") on toast with mayo.
Egg stirred then microwaved 50 s in a coffee mug then placed on toasted English muffin, possibly with cheese.


 on: Today at 09:38:30 pm 
Started by eigen - Last post by ruralguy
I certainly wouldn't go listing 10 new courses. All highly specialized. Just tell the tale of why you add value to the curriculum, both through knowing enough to do the usual, but also bringing in new ideas.

 on: Today at 09:31:08 pm 
Started by atalanta - Last post by drbrt
Drbrt, I would not, if I were you, bring another student's name into the email. I think it will just distract her and have her comparing herself to other students in the class rather than focusing on herself and her own goals for her education and, specifically, her performance in the class. Systeme_D is right about length too.
I wound up sending something about a sentence longer than Systeme_D's. At this point, Stu Dent needs perfect scores on everything left in the class to scrape a C. Stu is supposed to student teach next semester, but no one can student teach after failing this class unless I sign off on it.  I've told Stu the consequences of failure, and I've been clear that failing this class sets her graduation back a year. I'm the only one that teaches this class, so there is no way to get out of here without completing a substantial capstone project. This has been a rough class. Of the 7 capstone students, 3 are doing wonderful projects. 3 are earning C's. but two have straightened out after we had A Talk. Between them and my el ed majors, I walk around muttering "I can't care more than they do." more often than I would like.

 on: Today at 09:29:00 pm 
Started by prytania3 - Last post by ab_grp
I have just spent 1.5 hrs + listening to the recap of daughter's first approximately 1.5 yrs of college that she now feels comfortable telling me.  There is seriously not enough wine.  I am so thankful that we are having these frank conversations and am also so thankful that they are occurring in college rather than in high school or middle school, but still.   I guess next year she will be out of this thread.

 on: Today at 09:14:55 pm 
Started by categorical - Last post by aandsdean

 if the cost/benefit analysis showed that the school was losing more than it was gaining through its use of adjunct faculty, that situation would change. The economic effect on part-time faculty is a part of the calculation, but, sorry, from an institutional perspective it's far from the largest factor.

I don't share your belief that "the market" has determined how universities choose to hire people. People make these decisions. They don't make them in a vacuum and they don't make them without constraints, but there isn't some invisible hand that has determined that everyone should hire more adjuncts rather than permanent full time faculty. This is people making particular decisions about where to put resources based on their ideas of what is important.

Your belief, for example, seems to be that it doesn't really matter whether you employ on a temporary basis who don't get a chance to know the institution and who aren't paid or given the kind of security that encourages them to do anything besides teach their courses. If that is the argument, go ahead and make it, but don't pretend that you have no choice because of "market forces." You are using the idea in the way that it is generally used, as just a lame defense of what already exists.

I already made it--institutions decide what they need to do in the context of the available resources, and proceed accordingly.

The "market" is one of many factors that determine how universities decide to hire people. Others include priorities about what kind of people to hire (for example, do you only want people with top-10 Ph.D.s? That puts you in a very different position from institutions that primarily hire from the local R1. There are many, many things that go into these decisions.) However, once that decision is made, the market absolutely determines what an institution needs to pay to realize those decisions.

When I use the term "market forces" in this context, that is what I'm talking about: what it costs to accomplish a specific institutional goal.

And I will say it flat out:  It is fiscally irresponsible to pay more than you need to to accomplish whatever your specific goal is. If you can get the level of instruction you want in a particular course for $2,000, and you can do it repeatedly and routinely, you should allocate your resources elsewhere that has higher needs rather than paying more. If all an institution needs from someone is to teach a particular course, with no additional work, community engagement, and so on, then paying for more than that is a bad financial decision.

One of your specific goals may involve some specific notion of just compensation. If that is the case, then that goal becomes part of your decision set when you sit down to plan the budget. For example, it's important to me to buy local food where possible; I just got back from the grocery store, where I paid an extra dollar for a pound of butter to accomplish that end. However, if all I wanted was any old pound of butter for my Thanksgiving baking, I wouldn't have done that and I would have saved a buck. That calculation is up to each institution to decide on its own. If enough institutions made that decision, in turn that would alter the market, so that even institutions that couldn't care less about just compensation would have to pay more to compete for the kind of faculty they need.

Now that is a place to change the conversation, and I am glad that some people here are working on that. A proper, reasonable, well-informed unionization drive is a place that can happen. However, at the same time, remember that this conversation is going to take place in the context of a contemporary culture that has gleefully embraced disinvestment in higher education, insists increasingly on a Gradgrindian, utilitarian understanding of its purposes, and is pretty much openly scared of people who know how to think. College and University administrations answer to this culture and the polity that instantiates it with its votes and policy decisions.

It is certainly a tenable argument to claim that higher education should be somehow "better" than dirty old commerce and should incorporate some concept of economic justice in its salary calculations. However, even there, the wide range of disputes in these fora about just how hard it is to teach a course, and how many hours of work, suggest that even that is going to be a place of significant contest. I haven't taught comp for a long time, but if I could pick it up with the speed and ease with which I used to do it, $3,000 or so would be a very fair wage for a class with 18 students for me. It would be about $25/hour. While I make a good deal more than that in my regular job, for part-time work that can mostly be done at my convenience I'd take it. Not long ago I actually did teach an adjunct class (for $2,100) because I wanted to do it, and it was fine. But I was doing it in the adjunct way many have discussed here: I was not counting on that for my primary sustenance; it was a bonus.

And finally, a lot of people are angered by this statement, but c'est la vie:  In terms of moral claims on an institution of higher education, the adjunct faculty are at the very bottom. They are hired to teach a class or whatever other duties the job entails. They absolutely don't elicit the same institutional obligations as the students, the staff, and the full-time faculty. If they did, they'd occupy one of those categories instead, because the moral obligation is coterminous with the position. Part-time is part-time. It's nothing else. The fact that we (pretty much all of us) have some conception of our work as a special calling that we (again, pretty much all of us) think should be exempt from the grubby realities of the market doesn't make it so. The fact that many faculty (part- and full-time) are spectacularly dedicated doesn't change the fact that the job is a part-time job and is not, and will never be, meant to be anything but that.

Again, colleges and universities exist for many purposes, but the employment of faculty (or administrators) is not one of them. It's an effect, not a cause, of their existence.

The economic forces at play in the current financial situation of higher education are massively larger than the entire sum of colleges and universities in the United States. The cultural forces (anti-intellectualism, a pretty clear conspiracy by one of our major political parties to destroy public education at all levels, a national decision to spend more on prisons than on colleges) at work drive a lot of this and not even Harvard can do much about it.

 on: Today at 09:11:38 pm 
Started by larryc - Last post by clean
For those not familiar with MMM, let me take a humble stab at a Reader's Digest summary.

IF your cable TV is $120 a month, that it $1440 that you pay a year.  If you work, you can earn the 120 and keep TV.
You have other decisions.  IF you can earn a real 2% return, then you need 50 times an expense in cash today to pay for it.  In this case, about $72000 will generate enough to pay the bill.

However, you can also choose to cut back, or more importantly, find another way.  They do still make devices that will suck TV right out of the air!  You can get a Netflix or amazon or sometimes even just go to the network's website to watch shows.

The point is, you can cut your expenses back so that you don't need to save $72000, or spend, say 6 hours a month at work to earn the money to pay the bill (assuming you bring home $20 an hour in after tax, take home pay).

You can make a lot and spend a lot.  It is your choice, and there is nothing wrong with that.  OR your can find an alternative lifestyle that requires a lot lower cash outflow, and spend more time doing what YOU want to do rather than earning $20 an hour take home pay (for example) to afford that lifestyle.

Essentially, there are alternative ways to meet your needs that don't require such a huge amount of labor/wages to obtain, freeing you to do the other things that bring you pleasure.

Hopefully that doesn't do too much of an injustice to the MMM followers.  (Ive read a lot of the ideas, but am not a regular follower, so someone else may do a much better job.... Im trying to stay busy while giving an exam, and thought Id take a stab at this).

 on: Today at 08:59:13 pm 
Started by atalanta - Last post by crowie
Drbrt, I would not, if I were you, bring another student's name into the email. I think it will just distract her and have her comparing herself to other students in the class rather than focusing on herself and her own goals for her education and, specifically, her performance in the class. Systeme_D is right about length too.

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