2007-08 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession

Surprisingly, and unfortunately, the second and third largest growth rates in higher education personnel are in the categories of full- and part-time non-tenure-track faculty—both of which increased by over 200 percent. These two categories comprise the contingent faculty. Contingent faculty are ostensibly hired to provide universities with a flexible labor pool that can be expanded or reduced when enrollments in particular programs fluctuate, but the enormous growth in contingent faculty relative to full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty and relative to the growth in student enrollments is far greater than might be justified by an argument for flexibility. Other factors are driving this trend.

AAUP Annual Report on Faculty Salaries

I’ve know about these numbers all of my professional life, but each time they are reiterated my shock is renewed. “Full-time, nonfaculty professional staff grew,” for example, “at the highest rate—281 percent between 1976 and 2005.” Perhaps part of that, as they say, is due to the new high-tech, labor intensive system. And, of course, the country and the university system itself has grown.

“In sharp contrast to the dramatic growth in employment of contingent faculty members and full-time nonfaculty professionals,” the report says, “the number of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty grew by only 17 percent over the last three decades.” Inside the chasm created by these two numbers lies the real story of the remaking of the U.S. University.

It’s a very traditional kind of de-skilling, accompanied, of course, by a gradual but inevitable speed up: “And data from the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty on hours worked by full-time faculty show that the average workweek actually lengthened slightly, from 52.7 to 53.4 hours, between 1987 and 2003.” This helps to create a kind of self-regulatory pressure.

The post-public University system has to earn its profits somehow, and in order to do that it has to marshal its resources carefully. “In 2007–08, the average salary of the coaches is $1,040,863, a 12.4 percent increase over the $925,683 average paid in 2006–07.” Even the superstar professors, it seems, cannot compete with the superstar athletic programs.

There are some interesting regional differences, but in general these sports mega-complexes are, perhaps like all corporations, less profitable than they seem. “National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) data for 2002–03 indicated,’ for example, “that 68 percent of Division I-A programs reported profits, 28 percent reported budget deficits, and 4 percent reported breaking even.”

“By contrast, the average salary of full professors at these universities in 2007–08 is $104,523, 3.5 percent more than the $100,998 paid in 2006–07.” These are those professors Charlie Gibson was ridiculed about; he had a good idea of what a reasonable salary might be for them but no sense that it’s very rare it is to find a reasonable university.

Being Christian

Let’s be clear here: The church has been the primary source of the oppressions that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people have experienced through out their lives. Just as Scripture was used to justify slavery as recently as 150 years ago, just as Scripture was used to keep women out of leadership positions in the church . . . Scripture was used to fight both of those movements of the spirit. And so, indeed, the Church has been the source of most of the pain that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people have experienced. And what we try to say to the Human Rights Campaign and others is, if the church is the cause of this oppression it needs to be church people who undo this oppression, and that is what we are trying to do here.

Let’s also be clear that the religious right, both within our church and in other churches, are still proclaiming those kinds of oppressive things that are causing our children to grow up doubting whether indeed they are beloved by God or are an abomination. . . . Only religious people can undo that oppression and that is indeed what we along with the Human Rights Campaign are trying to do in this day and time.

Bishop V. Gene Robinson, June 14, 2006, at the 75th Episcopal General Convention

I’m not sure why, but my partner’s daughter has decided that she’s an atheist and it drives some of her Christian classmates up the wall. I admire her tenacity but I worry that the ongoing struggle will convince her that no good can ever come of faith. One day I want to take her to see Bishop Robinson.

Top Intellectual Property Developments of 2007 for Scholars of Composition, Rhetoric, and Communication

Introduction

Clancy Ratliff, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Co-Chair, 2008 CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus

The year 2007 carried quite a few key developments for those who follow issues and debates related to copyright and intellectual property. For the third year running, then, the CCCC Intellectual Property Committee is pleased to publish this annual report in the service of our first goal, to “keep the CCCC and NCTE memberships informed about intellectual property developments, through reports in the CCCC newsletter and in other NCTE and CCCC forums.”

Top Intellectual Property Developments of 2007 for Scholars of Composition, Rhetoric, and Communication

They don’t make it too easy, but this series of reports is worth reading, if nothing else because they illustrate the general disarray that dominates intellectual property rights. It’s a shift, of course, echoed in broader shifts over ownership underwritten by the mass availability of cheap computers.

The rhetoric of the titles tell the story. A report by Traci A. Zimmnerman, for example, is called “McLean Students File Suit Against Turinin.com: Useful Tool or Instrument of Tryanny.” Jeff Gain’s “Bosh v. Ball-Knell: Faculty May Have Lost Control Over Their Teaching Materials” also suggests serious trouble, at the very least.

“The Importance of Understanding and Utilizing Fair Use in Educational Contexts: A Study on Media Literacy and Copyright Confusion,” (Martine Courant Rife) and “Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video” (Laurie Cubbison) hint at the shifting ground on which property rights now stand.

And finally, “One Laptop Per Child Program Threatens Dominance of Intel and Microsoft,” (Kim Dian Gaine) and “The National Institutes of Health Open Access Mandate: Public Access for Public Funding,” (Clancy Ratliff) suggest the ongoing vitality of programs that directly challenge the old property paradigms.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

MANILA, April 11 — More than anywhere else in Asia, the soaring price of rice has become a good-vs.-evil drama in the Philippines, one of the world’s largest importers of rice.

Traders who fiddle with the price of the nation’s all-important staple now face life in prison. Police are raiding warehouses in search of hoarders. Soldiers and police have been mobilized to help sell government-subsidized rice to the poor.

Philippines Caught in Rice Squeeze, By Blaine Harden, Washington Post Foreign Service,Saturday, April 12, 2008

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Peace Corps in the late 1980s; in fact, this story was brought to my attention by the discussion list started last year by the organizers of our 20th anniversary reunion.

I keep thinking about how they used to dry the rice on the roads. I’d go for bike rides and have to go around these patches of grain laid out to dry. The farmers had an incredible sense of balance, too, walking over these slippery, mud-covered ridges that separates one rice field from another.

I hate to invoke the old adage of the right-wing economists, but it is ironic that these farmers are now suffering exactly because their crops are suddenly so valuable. Even more ironic, the scarcity of rice seems linked to the demand for ethanol in the west. Maybe the appropriate saying is some variation on ‘feed the fever, starve the cold.’