I Am Professor Staff

As “Who is Professor Staff?” makes clear, the majority of teachers in higher education are not only contingent faculty but are part-time contingent faculty.  Moreover, a majority of those the Center surveyed taught at more than one college or university, some taught in several institutions.  This prevalence of part-time faculty is not simply an effect of the overwhelming predominance of two-year community colleges–over half of the respondents taught at a four-year institution (even if in addition to a two-year institution)…. Despite the common perception of higher education populated with tenured and tenure-track faculty it is the reality of contingent and part-time faculty that is the dominant fact in the labor system of higher education.  Reliance on contingent faculty is also the prime mechanism through which university and college managers have sought to cut instructional labor costs.  And, of course, this point does not even address the  importance of Graduate Student Instructors at the university level.

Back to School…If They Need You” Michael Meranze

Last week, during the Republican Convention, NPR aired a brief set of interviews with convention attendees, one of whom seemed to have an almost visceral hate for Barak and Michele Obama. “I just don’t like him.” She said of the president. “Can’t stand to look at him. I don’t like his wife – she’s far from the First Lady. It’s about time we get a First Lady in there who acts like a First Lady and looks like a First Lady.” You can hear her here thanks to the Democratic Underground.

It’s hard to know what could have upset this woman so much (maybe it’s the hoola hoop thing).  This is white supremacy at its most instinctual, the profound disgust felt when non-whites, inherently inferior, gain power and influence. This woman must be livid because I Michelle Obama’s speech last night was one of the most moving I have ever seen at a convention, every bit the equal of her husband. In some ways, I think her speaking style is more engaging than the president.

I do see myself, my family,and the people I know in her story, even if she’s far too successful now to be fully familiar. A few years back, Barack Obama wrote a bestselling book, and then another, and they left  the world of ordinary financial life behind. She was already a successful hospital administrator. What I don’t yet hear in these  stories is my profession, outlined in the report, “Who is Professor Staff?”    Still, reelecting Obama is the only chance for that story to be ever heard in the White House.

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 Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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