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Life in Academia

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  • Solveig Throndardottir
    Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... Thank you for the thought. The truth is that academe is a rotten business unless you have tenure or are otherwise
    Message 1 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
      Noble Cousin!

      Greetings from Solveig!
      > She already has a solid academic career...

      Thank you for the thought. The truth is that academe is a rotten
      business unless you have tenure or are otherwise firmly established.
      This last academic year, I basked in impoverished unemployment. Thus
      far, I haven't found a gig for next year either. My checkered
      academic career is far from unique. I know quite a few people who got
      out in science or mathematics in the early 90's who are still trying
      to land tenure. You may recall that Bush the Elder was making a lot
      of noise about there being a shortage of such folks. It was actually
      a big lie designed to grease importing people from the former Soviet
      Union and China. The reality is that there is hard documentation for
      unemployment rates of about 50% among newly minted PhDs about the
      year that I got out. This documentation under-reported the actual
      rate as a lot of people were delaying graduation. Meanwhile, colleges
      and universities were combining junior positions in order to offer
      senior appointments to the imported faculty. Eventually, this lead to
      a backlash especially at public institutions which were compelled by
      legislatures to employ professors who could speak English. However,
      senior faculty are very good about waving their hands and claiming
      that incomprehensible colleagues actually speak good English. And,
      yes, while I have taken courses from even recent immigrants who were
      quite comprehensible, I have encountered immigrant faculty who were
      incomprehensible.

      The moral that you should take away from this is that when you hear a
      lot of noise about there being a shortage in one field or another
      they may actually be trying to justify outsourcing, importing cheap
      foreign labor, or otherwise put the squeeze on domestic workers.

      An interesting piece of organizational behavior. The less they pay
      you, the more confident they are that they can evaluate you. The more
      they pay you, the less confident they are that they can evaluate you.
      This is a fairly well documented phenomenon. We are seeing this being
      played out on a large scale at the moment with CEOs being paid
      astronomical sums by failing companies. Meanwhile, the people who
      actually design, make, and distribute products and services are being
      pressed to accept lower pay and fewer benefits.

      Finally, watch Horse Feathers sometime. Things are still pretty much
      the same. The coach of a loosing team at Syracuse University is paid
      something on the order of three to five times as much as the
      Chancellor and about 20 or 30 times as much as they were paying me. I
      forget the exact salaries of these people. But, the orders of
      magnitude are correct. In fact, the athletics department claims that
      the "Orange Men" loose, because the coaches aren't being paid enough.

      Oh well. That's probably far far more belly aching than you ever
      wanted to hear from me. But, the really amusing thing is those
      tenured faculty who whine about how their salaries aren't high enough
      and seek Summer employment to increase their salary. This may be
      justifiable for English full professors at SUNY colleges who make
      about $40K a year and is certainly justifiable for a friend of mine
      who is an adjunct English professor, but I've heard the same belly
      aching from professors with six figure salaries at Syracuse
      University. Me? I'd just like to have a nice quiet secure academic
      gig at a small to medium size school where you can form personal
      relationships with colleagues and students.

      Your Humble Servant
      Solveig Throndardottir
      Amateur Scholar






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Peters
      Solvieig wrote snip
      Message 2 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
        Solvieig wrote > snip<


        And my family and PhD friends wonder why I won't go back to school.8)

        She neglected to mention the unceasing internal warfare/politics and jockeying for position as well.








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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Andrew Trembley
        ... But... that is a solid academic career by today s standards. Seriously, yeah, I totally get this. The politics are horrible. The shortage of real
        Message 3 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
          Solveig Throndardottir wrote:
          > Noble Cousin!
          >
          > Greetings from Solveig!
          >
          >> She already has a solid academic career...
          >>
          >
          > Thank you for the thought. The truth is that academe is a rotten
          > business unless you have tenure or are otherwise firmly established.
          > This last academic year, I basked in impoverished unemployment.
          But... that is a solid academic career by today's standards.

          Seriously, yeah, I totally get this. The politics are horrible. The
          shortage of real management skills makes /Dilbert/ seem like a dream
          environment. I work in administration at a public university, and I've
          followed a few friends through decades of part-time teaching and through
          tenure battles. I've watched psycho deans (a particular one so bad that
          her college was dissolved by the Provost shortly after it's 25th
          anniversary and rolled back into two others when she went on sabbatical;
          that sounds psycho but it was important she had no job to return to and
          she had almost destroyed the college anyway) move tenured professors
          into management positions to make them easier to fire.

          andy
        • Solveig Throndardottir
          Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! Actually, a lot of administrators hold tenured faculty positions. So, they can be pretty hard to fire. You can sack them
          Message 4 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
            Noble Cousin!

            Greetings from Solveig! Actually, a lot of administrators hold
            tenured faculty positions. So, they can be pretty hard to fire. You
            can sack them as dean or department chairman, but they can still go
            back to their old departments with their tails between their legs,
            but at greatly inflated salary. You can either try to force them to
            resign or reorganize them into a department or program and then kill
            the entire department or program.

            Incidentally, student reviews are very influential in retaining
            faculty. However, any complaints about language ability are summarily
            dismissed. So, it is probably easier these days to get tenure if you
            are a non-native English speaker as the students will invariably
            complain about your language ability.

            Your Humble Servant
            Solveig Throndardottir
            Amateur Scholar






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • the.lady.phoenix@gmail.com
            Get around that but complaining about how poorly they presented the material. How they were unable to present it in a way that made it learnable, or something
            Message 5 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
              Get around that but complaining about how poorly they presented the
              material. How they were unable to present it in a way that made it
              learnable, or something like that. I've never filled out those "end
              of semester" pollings usually tossing them in the garbage or leaving
              when the professor did if it was at the end of the class.

              Sara

              On 01/06/2009, Solveig Throndardottir <nostrand@...> wrote:
              > Noble Cousin!
              >
              > Greetings from Solveig! Actually, a lot of administrators hold
              > tenured faculty positions. So, they can be pretty hard to fire. You
              > can sack them as dean or department chairman, but they can still go
              > back to their old departments with their tails between their legs,
              > but at greatly inflated salary. You can either try to force them to
              > resign or reorganize them into a department or program and then kill
              > the entire department or program.
              >
              > Incidentally, student reviews are very influential in retaining
              > faculty. However, any complaints about language ability are summarily
              > dismissed. So, it is probably easier these days to get tenure if you
              > are a non-native English speaker as the students will invariably
              > complain about your language ability.
              >
              > Your Humble Servant
              > Solveig Throndardottir
              > Amateur Scholar
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
            • Sonny Scott
              In one class, we were told that the evaluations went to the Dean, and the teacher didn t see them. The next class the teacher ranted for 20 minutes about the
              Message 6 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
                In one class, we were told that the evaluations went to the Dean, and the teacher didn't see them. The next class the teacher ranted for 20 minutes about the poor evaluations he received and tried to defend his persistent tardiness.

                _______________________________
                From: "the.lady.phoenix@..." <the.lady.phoenix@...>
                To: sca-jml@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Monday, June 1, 2009 3:17:07 PM
                Subject: Re: [SCA-JML] Life in Academia


                Get around that but complaining about how poorly they presented the
                material. How they were unable to present it in a way that made it
                learnable, or something like that. I've never filled out those "end
                of semester" pollings usually tossing them in the garbage or leaving
                when the professor did if it was at the end of the class.

                Sara
              • the.lady.phoenix@gmail.com
                They don t see the evaluations you do they are Sanatized typed up, and then turned over to the instructor so they can know what students liked and responded
                Message 7 of 13 , Jun 1, 2009
                  They don't see the evaluations you do they are "Sanatized" typed up,
                  and then turned over to the instructor so they can know what students
                  liked and responded to and what they didn't.

                  However, I don't belive that they ever do that, I think they say that
                  and then hand the forms over to the professor.

                  Sara

                  On 01/06/2009, Sonny Scott <onesoni@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > In one class, we were told that the evaluations went to the Dean, and the
                  > teacher didn't see them. The next class the teacher ranted for 20 minutes
                  > about the poor evaluations he received and tried to defend his persistent
                  > tardiness.
                  >
                  > _______________________________
                • Solveig Throndardottir
                  Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... The exact procedure depends upon the school in question. In some schools the professors receive the originals back.
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jun 2, 2009
                    Noble Cousin!

                    Greetings from Solveig!
                    > They don't see the evaluations you do they are "Sanatized" typed up,
                    > and then turned over to the instructor so they can know what students
                    > liked and responded to and what they didn't.
                    >
                    > However, I don't belive that they ever do that, I think they say that
                    > and then hand the forms over to the professor.
                    The exact procedure depends upon the school in question. In some
                    schools the professors receive the originals back. In others they
                    don't. However, disclosing their contents to the administration is a
                    common feature of reappointment and tenure at a lot of places.
                    Further, a lot of places are demanding to see them during the hiring
                    process. This all makes for eviscerating "higher education". The
                    book, Grade Inflation, documents studies proving that these tests at
                    best measure student anxiety at the end of the academic term. All of
                    this motivates professors to reduce student anxiety. The easiest way
                    to do this is to water down courses. For example, a tenured professor
                    of my acquaintance told me back around 1995 that she had recently
                    looked at a test she had been using a decade or so previously. She
                    said that she could never give it to the current crop of students
                    even though students had previously done well on it.

                    Your Humble Servant
                    Solveig Throndardottir
                    Amateur Scholar






                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • the.lady.phoenix@gmail.com
                    sounds as bad as standardized tests in the lower grade levels. Sara
                    Message 9 of 13 , Jun 2, 2009
                      sounds as bad as standardized tests in the lower grade levels.

                      Sara

                      On 02/06/2009, Solveig Throndardottir <nostrand@...> wrote:
                      > Noble Cousin!
                      >
                      > Greetings from Solveig!
                      >> They don't see the evaluations you do they are "Sanatized" typed up,
                      >> and then turned over to the instructor so they can know what students
                      >> liked and responded to and what they didn't.
                      >>
                      >> However, I don't belive that they ever do that, I think they say that
                      >> and then hand the forms over to the professor.
                      > The exact procedure depends upon the school in question. In some
                      > schools the professors receive the originals back. In others they
                      > don't. However, disclosing their contents to the administration is a
                      > common feature of reappointment and tenure at a lot of places.
                      > Further, a lot of places are demanding to see them during the hiring
                      > process. This all makes for eviscerating "higher education". The
                      > book, Grade Inflation, documents studies proving that these tests at
                      > best measure student anxiety at the end of the academic term. All of
                      > this motivates professors to reduce student anxiety. The easiest way
                      > to do this is to water down courses. For example, a tenured professor
                      > of my acquaintance told me back around 1995 that she had recently
                      > looked at a test she had been using a decade or so previously. She
                      > said that she could never give it to the current crop of students
                      > even though students had previously done well on it.
                      >
                      > Your Humble Servant
                      > Solveig Throndardottir
                      > Amateur Scholar
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                      >
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