Two Steps Forward, One Back

Grand Canyon University, Inside Higher Education reports, has taken the unusual step of giving nearly 100 adjuncts full-time positions (“Adjunct Promotion at a For-profit“) in hopes that “having a cadre of long-term online professors will prove a competitive advantage.” It’s another sign of the ways that the for-profit industry might realign itself in the face of an increased regulatory presence.  Grand Canyon may be the first to try to reorganize by redefining the dominant casualized labor model.

In the old lax regulatory environment the schools made money simply by competing for the huge pool of students who were ignored by the public academic industrial complex. Competition without regulatory supervision led to the abuses which (finally) reawakened the regulatory political will. It remains to be seen if the emerging regulatory regime will have any teeth. Meanwhile the for-profit universities have begun to shift their focus away from the now loosing numbers game and towards building institutional capital.

It’s no small thing to get a full-time job, with benefits, in your chosen profession, in a stalled recovery. That’s a form of employment that capital seemed determined to drive off the face of the earth. On the other hand it’s a deeply paranoid model that only a control freak could love: the teachers are asked to adhere to a specific schedule (8 to 12)  and to work in  a designated work space. On yet another hand, you can organize in that sort of space in a way that was difficult if not impossible with everyone working at home…

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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