• October 30, 2014
October 30, 2014, 9:46:30 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: Talk online about your experiences as an adjunct, visiting assistant professor, postdoc, or other contract faculty member.
 
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 11
  Print  
Author Topic: Another Article on Aging Professors  (Read 43197 times)
daniel_von_flanagan
<redacted>
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 13,289

Works all day. Posts all night. Needs sleep.


« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2012, 2:42:21 PM »

I, on the other hand, have a senior colleague who never mastered the technology involved in opening an attachment to an e-mail. 
It is a good thing then that this has nothing whatsoever to do with one's quality or ability in the classroom or research lab.

Quote
To be fair, we're also likely to lose two people who don't do much of anything.
Sure, but that is always on the table in our system.  You hire and tenure for potential, hope that some fraction meets that potential, and understand as part of the equation that many will not. 

The research that endures is that produced by a miniscule percentage - maybe 1% (to make up a number) - of the people in the field.  However, you don't know in advance which 1% that will be, moreover that 1% can't really operate without being embedded in the work of a significant portion of the rest.

As for genuine deadwood - faculty whose combination of teaching, research, and service is below the weight they should be carrying for the department - that is an issue of bad departmental leadership.  It is the job of the chair and dean to balance the load within a department.  You can't can't really blame a professor who asks for a light load and gets told "sure". - DvF
Logged

The U.S. Education Department is establishing a new national research center to study colleges' ability to successfully educate the country's growing numbers of academically underprepared administrators.
kaysixteen
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,749


« Reply #31 on: March 19, 2012, 3:02:12 PM »

Sure, but what can the dept chair do to Prof Oldtenuredandalazy, even if he is still fully mental competent, if he refuses to do more than the barest minimum of his contractual responsibilities, minimally understood?  Prof Youngandnotmeasuringuptosnuff can be sacked, but...
Logged
polly_mer
practice makes perfect
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 37,440

Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #32 on: March 19, 2012, 5:41:41 PM »

Sure, but what can the dept chair do to Prof Oldtenuredandalazy, even if he is still fully mental competent, if he refuses to do more than the barest minimum of his contractual responsibilities, minimally understood?  Prof Youngandnotmeasuringuptosnuff can be sacked, but...

Oh, there are things that can be done to make people uncomfortable.

The most interesting I just saw was requiring Prof Oldtenuredandalazy to move N0 years of crap from one office (packed floor to ceiling with only a shoulder's width passage from the door to the invisible desk) to another, much smaller and less accessible office with cheerful advice like "Just sort through it and figure out how to make it fit into the new space".

There's also putting classes at inconvenient times (8 am and 6 pm on the same day) as well as sending every single piece of paper or email that could even remotely be related to Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy to him and then phoning daily to ask for his expertise on those matters.

This can be combined with routing every single opportunity that comes up and needs a warm body to Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy first.  Having to say no can be parlayed into "Say, Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy, I signed you up for X.  Oh, can't do it?  Well, you call the provost and tell him you're busy since someone has to go and you are the one with the fewest service requirements who isn't teaching Fridays at 4 pm." 
Logged

I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
federale
Pistol packin'
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,693


« Reply #33 on: March 19, 2012, 6:13:04 PM »

I will say, if scholars just say, I'll retire when I feel like it, it is pretty hard for institutional planning. Here in the federal service, at least we have historical demographic data to help us. Most employees retire, on average, within three years of retirement eligibility, or early 60s for most. Sometimes things can change things a bit (like the recession and 401k hit), but the general pattern is predictable. With academics, I am less sure. It seems like any time between 60 and 80. Hard to do succession planning.

Why not work for six figures well into retirement, when you can call the shots? Because, of course, you can. We see all over America these days.  Those that have, get more. The disparities between those established and those starting out are pretty stark these days.
Logged
proftowanda
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,942

"Righter of wrongs, queen beyond compare."


« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2012, 6:37:06 PM »

I will say, if scholars just say, I'll retire when I feel like it, it is pretty hard for institutional planning. Here in the federal service, at least we have historical demographic data to help us. Most employees retire, on average, within three years of retirement eligibility, or early 60s for most. Sometimes things can change things a bit (like the recession and 401k hit), but the general pattern is predictable. With academics, I am less sure. It seems like any time between 60 and 80. Hard to do succession planning.

Why not work for six figures well into retirement, when you can call the shots? Because, of course, you can. We see all over America these days.  Those that have, get more. The disparities between those established and those starting out are pretty stark these days.


I would bet that six figures is not the average, across all of academe.

The impact of salary compression throughout a career, as well as the more recent factors -- the recession and 401K/other hits, and the legislative backlash of furloughs, salary freezes, actual huge hits in take-home pay, etc. -- is exactly why some of us have not gotten even that high up in five figures and are delaying retirement.
Logged

"Face it, girls.  I'm older, and I have more insurance."     -- Towanda!
daniel_von_flanagan
<redacted>
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 13,289

Works all day. Posts all night. Needs sleep.


« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2012, 8:06:13 PM »

Sure, but what can the dept chair do to Prof Oldtenuredandalazy, even if he is still fully mental competent, if he refuses to do more than the barest minimum of his contractual responsibilities, minimally understood?
He can be assigned additional non-research work so that the research/teaching/service contribution is on par with everyone else, and then if he does not do it, can get sacked.  Tenure does not protect you from having to do your job. - DvF
Logged

The U.S. Education Department is establishing a new national research center to study colleges' ability to successfully educate the country's growing numbers of academically underprepared administrators.
octoprof
Member-Moderator
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 45,149

Love your loved ones while you can.


WWW
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2012, 8:09:38 PM »

The disparities between those established and those starting out are pretty stark these days.

In some fields, the new PhDs are getting more than the established old farts.
Logged

Love your neighbor.
oldfullprof
Ridiculous
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,359

Representation is not reproduction!


« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2012, 10:01:17 PM »

[Sarcasm]  I almost feel bad about retiring because of the fair amount of idiotic people my field produces each year.  I'm not joking.  So youngsters, straighten up. [/Sarcasm]
Logged

Taste o' the Sixties
spinnaker
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,902


« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2012, 10:59:16 PM »


Why not work for six figures well into retirement, when you can call the shots? Because, of course, you can. We see all over America these days.  Those that have, get more. The disparities between those established and those starting out are pretty stark these days.


In liberal academia? Say it isn't so!
Logged

"I never agree with Spinnaker, but..."
nezahualcoyotl
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,221


« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2012, 4:30:29 AM »

I don't have a subscription so I can't really comment on the article itself. However, the issue of retirement is one for which I see no simple solution. On the one hand, I've seen older profs who are still active and productive as teachers and researchers and, morally, it's hard to see why they should be denied the right to keep working if they choose to do so and, from a practical perspective, there seems to be no actual reason at all to force them to retire (yes, there is a need to plan for their eventual retirement, etc, but that's a different issue from making them retire). On the other hand, I've seen older profs that, though they may have been high caliber when they were young, are doing the bare minimum they can get away with, going through the motions of teaching if they can't avoid teaching altogether, and hardly making even a pretence of doing research. I'm reminded of what a PhD student I knew said of his advisor when he finally retired - "Mentally, he retired years ago." I've seen other cases of older profs whose labs are, in practice, run by the senior postdoc and whose PhD students are in practice mentored and overseen by postdocs and more experienced students, with the prof only showing up if there's wine being served. In theory, you compel older profs to either be productive or retire, but in practice older profs tend to be tenured, are experienced at navigating departmental politics, once upon a time mentored people now in influential positions, etc. In principle, good pensions might be enough to entice older unproductive workers to retire, but who would pay for that in practice? Not to mention, some might not recognize they're no longer productive or might delay retirement because they enjoy being in a position of authority, yet not be productive any more.

Something I don't understand. How do people get away with having these very light schedules? How do they get away with "hardly even making a pretence of doing research?" (I take it you are in the UK, but this sounds familiar). I guess it's just not my world. My experience is you have a job with specific requirements and if you fail to meet any of them you're taking a chance at getting fired.

The "mentally, he retired years ago" was a UK case though I'm not in the UK. The thing is, the bare minimum legal requirements in a contract vary from place to place (even in the same country) - I know of one institution where contracts don't actually require research, so although there's a big financial penalty for not doing research, it's not something you can be fired for. Even where it is a firing offence, the powers that be may prefer to avoid confrontation with people who are tenured, who often  have built up significant networks over the years, who have plenty of experience in departmental politics, and who aren't getting any younger and will leave or die eventually anyway. In contrast, younger faculty are often untenured, less experienced in departmental politics, etc, and as they might continue there for many years, the leadership has more incentives to take on the unproductive ones as well as fewer obstacles. A common tactic by those in the "should retire but won't" group I've seen is to take credit for research that is effectively planned for, carried out, written up, etc by their postdocs, junior collaborators, technicians, students, etc, they effectively become figureheads. Or they have accumulated lots of equipment, lab space and material over the years and effectively are renting it out - use of it in exchange for authorship in publications.
Also, it's possible to do "going-through-the-motions" teaching rather than any attempt to be any good at it, uphold standards, etc (the most extreme example I've seen is just getting a student to read out loud from the textbook and just assigned problems from the textbook for homework - granted, this wouldn't fly at many places but you get the idea).

Quote
Also, a moral reason to force people to retire? I don't know about that, but a moral reason people should think about retiring instead of hanging on, with a light schedule, to maximize their pension is a no-brainer.

Yes, but not everyone will do the moral thing if they can get away with doing something else. Not everyone will even recognize that they may no longer be productive.


It's interesting also to note how field-dependent much of this is - I don't doubt that in some fields, it may be very difficult to replace someone in certain specialities, and thus the problem with mandatory retirement isn't so much about losing tenure lines, but losing an entire speciality, but in my field (and in much of STEM I think) academics, except for the superstars, are easily replaced.

I, on the other hand, have a senior colleague who never mastered the technology involved in opening an attachment to an e-mail.
It is a good thing then that this has nothing whatsoever to do with one's quality or ability in the classroom or research lab.

In my field, the norm is for submissions to journals, funding agencies, etc to be online, and the internet is the standard way of searching and accessing the literature, and of sharing data, manuscripts, etc. In my field, if you can't do basic IT stuff like opening an attachment, you're not fit to be a PI.
Although the best HE teacher I ever had relied on overheads, and some pretty good ones on chalk-and-talk, email is important for communicating with students, etc. Even if your teaching is pretty low-tech, things like email are important for teaching-related duties.
Logged

'Education is like a venereal disease; it makes you unsuitable for many jobs, and then you have the urge to pass it on.'
-Terry Pratchett

I do solemnly swear to obey all the laws of thermodynamics.
daniel_von_flanagan
<redacted>
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 13,289

Works all day. Posts all night. Needs sleep.


« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2012, 5:59:38 AM »

In my field, the norm is for submissions to journals, funding agencies, etc to be online, and the internet is the standard way of searching and accessing the literature, and of sharing data, manuscripts, etc. In my field, if you can't do basic IT stuff like opening an attachment, you're not fit to be a PI.
I'm an editor for an online-only journal, and even we make accommodation for paper submission.  NSF is tougher, but my school's understaffed office seems to be willing to help successful researchers.  I have colleagues with multimillion dollar grants who don't know how to use Fastlane.  However, maybe your grants are so much bigger than this that you are in a position to declare them unfit to run a lab.

That said, anyone who is 65 now was a young 40 when academic email was starting to penetrate most STEM fields, so I expect all the stories about email-unaware senior colleages that people are retelling are either extreme outliers or memories from 10 years ago.

Quote
Even if your teaching is pretty low-tech, things like email are important for teaching-related duties.
I tend not to use email for teaching-related activity.  Students who need to talk to me can put their trousers on and come to my office hours. - DvF
Logged

The U.S. Education Department is establishing a new national research center to study colleges' ability to successfully educate the country's growing numbers of academically underprepared administrators.
jonesey
All-Purpose Savage, Barroom Sociologist, and
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,982


« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2012, 7:22:26 AM »

I tend not to use email for teaching-related activity.  Students who need to talk to me can put their trousers on and come to my office hours. - DvF
[/quote]

You must work for one of the last schools left where the student is not your customer.

I have to email back within 24 hours (or call them).  At one point, we had to email/call any student who was absent, in an effort to increase retention by "showing that we care."
Logged

Jonesey, I know you're a being of sensitivity and refinement.

Hanging out at the home of leftist zealotry.
daniel_von_flanagan
<redacted>
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 13,289

Works all day. Posts all night. Needs sleep.


« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2012, 7:39:20 AM »

jonesey, you still at a for-profit?

Mine is an against-profit. - DvF
Logged

The U.S. Education Department is establishing a new national research center to study colleges' ability to successfully educate the country's growing numbers of academically underprepared administrators.
spinnaker
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,902


« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2012, 8:49:30 AM »

Sure, but what can the dept chair do to Prof Oldtenuredandalazy, even if he is still fully mental competent, if he refuses to do more than the barest minimum of his contractual responsibilities, minimally understood?  Prof Youngandnotmeasuringuptosnuff can be sacked, but...

Oh, there are things that can be done to make people uncomfortable.

The most interesting I just saw was requiring Prof Oldtenuredandalazy to move N0 years of crap from one office (packed floor to ceiling with only a shoulder's width passage from the door to the invisible desk) to another, much smaller and less accessible office with cheerful advice like "Just sort through it and figure out how to make it fit into the new space".

There's also putting classes at inconvenient times (8 am and 6 pm on the same day) as well as sending every single piece of paper or email that could even remotely be related to Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy to him and then phoning daily to ask for his expertise on those matters.

This can be combined with routing every single opportunity that comes up and needs a warm body to Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy first.  Having to say no can be parlayed into "Say, Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy, I signed you up for X.  Oh, can't do it?  Well, you call the provost and tell him you're busy since someone has to go and you are the one with the fewest service requirements who isn't teaching Fridays at 4 pm." 


Instead of treating an employee like an enemy to get compliance or to get him to leave, it would be nice if you could get him to do his share just by invoking rules which he has to agree to, as a condition of employment.
Logged

"I never agree with Spinnaker, but..."
octoprof
Member-Moderator
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 45,149

Love your loved ones while you can.


WWW
« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2012, 8:53:34 AM »

Sure, but what can the dept chair do to Prof Oldtenuredandalazy, even if he is still fully mental competent, if he refuses to do more than the barest minimum of his contractual responsibilities, minimally understood?  Prof Youngandnotmeasuringuptosnuff can be sacked, but...

Oh, there are things that can be done to make people uncomfortable.

The most interesting I just saw was requiring Prof Oldtenuredandalazy to move N0 years of crap from one office (packed floor to ceiling with only a shoulder's width passage from the door to the invisible desk) to another, much smaller and less accessible office with cheerful advice like "Just sort through it and figure out how to make it fit into the new space".

There's also putting classes at inconvenient times (8 am and 6 pm on the same day) as well as sending every single piece of paper or email that could even remotely be related to Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy to him and then phoning daily to ask for his expertise on those matters.

This can be combined with routing every single opportunity that comes up and needs a warm body to Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy first.  Having to say no can be parlayed into "Say, Prof. Oldtenuredandalazy, I signed you up for X.  Oh, can't do it?  Well, you call the provost and tell him you're busy since someone has to go and you are the one with the fewest service requirements who isn't teaching Fridays at 4 pm." 


Instead of treating an employee like an enemy to get compliance or to get him to leave, it would be nice if you could get him to do his share just by invoking rules which he has to agree to, as a condition of employment.

That's what the contract is for.
Logged

Love your neighbor.
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 11
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.