Academic Nadir

I am not sure why I believe this, but I think that academia has to reach some final bottom– like a drug addict– before it can even begin to address its own recent history, particularly the steady destruction of full-time faculty positions. At some point– 50% or 75% part-time?– the problem will become so self-evident that it can no longer be ignored. I sometimes wonder if it will become evident to the public before it is self-evident to academics.

It’s hyperbole, of course, to equate American teachers with an Indian caste, but this piece (“When Adjunct Faculty are the Tenure-Track’s Untouchables”) suggests that full-time faculty complicity may be one important reason change can seem so distant:

Truth is that ladder-rank faculty are growing old and we are not prepared to pick this important fight with our administrations or UCOP. We are edging towards retirement, counting our beans in our pension funds, and just holding on until we escape amidst encircling doom. Safe in retirement, many of us will tut-tut and speak of the halcyon days when ladder rank faculty were little gods with real rights.

“When Adjunct Faculty are the Tenure-Track’s Untouchables” Chris Newfield

Newfield is referring to California universities; as goes California, the saying goes, so goes the United States. The article is worth reading, although it does little more than repeat the obvious: in recent years: our fight is increasingly not simply against an administrative culture overly concerned with markets and business models but also with status-bound, complacent full-time faculty. Maybe that last complaint signals that rock bottom is closer than ever.

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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