Friday, March 27, 2009

Lack of tenure track jobs will drive future scientists out of US universities

A Princeton department chair gets it: treating faculty like toilet paper might seem to make economic sense in the short term, but in the long term it will kill our higher education system.

I would go further than he does and say that lack of tenure track positions for those who choose to focus on TEACHING future scientists (and businessmen, teachers, and political leaders) is already killing them personally.

If someone chooses to teach or be an academic, they don't expect to get rich, but they do expect to be able to pay back their student loans, get health insurance, and support a family


Nation needs recovery plan for science faculty jobs
February 28th, 2009

Even if the economy were to recover over the next one to two years, the academic job market for the next few years is likely to be bleak. It will probably take several years for university finances to recover. Even more significantly, the collapse of the stock market has led many faculty members to defer retirement plans. Many professors in their late 60s and early 70s who were planning to retire in the next two to three years have decided to stay on and work for an additional few years so that they can recover some of their market losses.

While this choice makes a great deal of sense for each individual, it will likely have tragic side effects. If all of the faculty members who were planning on retiring at age 67 defer retirement to 72, then universities will not be able to hire any new faculty for the next five years! (This claim rests on the assumption that universities are not likely to rapidly grow their faculty size during an economic downturn and early in the recovery.) When the current cohort of 67-year-olds and the current cohort of 62-year-olds retire over the next five to 10 years, this wave of retirements may create a job bump; however, the next several years will be a difficult time for any scholar seeking a faculty position.


The lack of tenure-track jobs in the United States will likely lead many of our best young U.S.-trained scientists and engineers to seek faculty positions in Europe and Asia, or to abandon their scientific careers. Many of our promising young Ph.D.s are foreign-born scientists who will likely return to their home countries. Most other advanced nations have mandatory retirement ages at their universities and do not have retirement pensions connected to the stock market.

FULL TEXT (includes his solution)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Majority Faculty collecting stories from part time, contingent, and other non-tenure track higher ed faculty

There's a new NATIONAL group for adjuncts, part timers, contingent faculty, and whatever else colleges and universities call the instructors who do most of the teaching but get few of benefits like job security, equal pay, and often not even health insurance.

They want to hear your story about being an adjunct, and start to figure out what we can do together to change things.

You can post on Youtube, in response to this this video:

(click pic to see flick)

Here's sort of what they're looking for (sound track and other production optional):

INSIDE HIRING: the parable of the faithful girlfriend not chosen as a wife

Once there was a man who was pretty successful in life, but he could not have done it without his faithful girlfriend. She fixed his breakfast, washed his clothes, took care of him when he was sick, bore his children and raised them well, and even helped him with his work when he fell behind.

She was wife in all but name and benefits. She didn't get on his health insurance, would inherit nothing when he dies, and when he went on vacation, he wouldn't take her.

One day, he announced that he wanted to finally get married. The girlfriend was giddy and asked, "When do I get the ring?"

"Well," he said, "I don't know that I'm going to marry YOU. But you are welcome to compete for the position. Just come down to the Harem Hut tomorrow.

When she arrived, she found that it was a strip club. The other women dancing in g-strings were young and thin and sleek, but the girlfriend had stretch marks from having the man's children and she had put on weight because she had often skipped going to the gym to help him catch up on his work. And when it was her turn to dance, she moved awkwardly about the stage in a manner that was hardly seductive at all, especially compared to the young women who still danced every night.

Then the man questioned all the women about how they would keep house and raise his children. The young women all said they would keep his as spotless as an operating room and his children would grow up to be presidents and Nobel Prize winning scientists. This pleased the man very much. When he asked his girlfriend of many years the same questions, "You know how I would clean your house because you have seen it every day. You know how I would raise your children because I already have. I don't know if any of them will win the Nobel Prize or be president, but they seem to be happy people, more successful than you or I, and they will care for us in our old age." Her answers were not as impressive, but undeniably true. Nonetheless, the man refused to judge based on what he had seen with his own eyes, and only take into account what the contestants said.

And so the man chose one of the young women and not the girlfriend who had served him faithfully for many years.

Within six months, the young woman had drained his bank accounts, stolen his car, filed for divorce, and sold one of his kidneys.

He called the girlfriend to his side and said, "I must find another wife. Give me a ride to the Harem Hut."

"Don't you think this a stupid way to choose a wife?" she said in exasperation.

"Nonsense," he said. "This is the best way to do it. Most of the young girls do not betray the men who choose them and sell their kidneys."

"Wouldn't it make more sense to choose me since I have served you faithfully for years?" she said.

"I would have," he said, "If you had answered the questions more artfully, lost some weight, and brushed up on your dance steps. But you are welcome to try again. Some of my friends have actually married their girlfriends, so it's not like it never happens."

She should not have come back because of his ungratefulness, but she had little choice since it was the custom of all the men in the land to ask prospective wives questions and grade their dances, and she was no longer young, so the men who didn't know her would not pick her in any case.

This time the man chose another young woman, and this one did not rob him, but really knew nothing about being a wife (in spite of her clever answers and seductive dance), so she asked the girlfriend what to do. The girlfriend helped her, and their children grew up as brothers and sisters and were equally successful in life, regardless of whether their mother was wife or the girlfriend. Sometimes when they were alone, the wife would even tell the girlfriend that if she ever decided to leave the man, she would tell him to marry the girlfriend.

The wife did leave him after they had been married long enough for her to get half the property in the divorce, but by then the girlfriend was dead, so her promise didn't matter.


This is what the hiring process is like for an adjunct. We serve an institution faithfully for years, teaching the same classes as our full time counterparts, serving on committees when we are allowed, and doing all the things faculty are supposed to do only without receiving the same rewards.

Then when it comes time to hire someone for a full time job, the hiring committee thinks they are doing us a great favor by giving us an interview and treating us exactly the same as someone they don't know. They don't often hire the person who steals their kidneys, but they will pick someone flashy and glib or bubbly because they are just out of grad school, only to then ask the part timer to tell the new full timer how to do their job--but they would NEVER lose their kidneys or hire someone who needed on the job training if they chose based on what they had seen over years instead of over a few minutes.

This is why community college districts must be required to offer full time jobs to part timers before they open it up to outside applicants.

And because hiring committees can't seem to tell the difference between a good life partner and a good lap dance.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Einstein was smart enough to join a UNION

Some Republican congressman posted a video reinforcing the stereotype that all union members are foul-mouthed, ignorant, blue collar goons.

I wonder if that's what he thinks actors like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, his neighborhood cop, firemen, and elementary school teachers are like.

Even Albert Einstein was smart enough to join a union and advocate that others do the same.

click to see full-sized

Thursday, March 12, 2009

VIDEO: Student loan debt crushing students & grads
on Democracy Now!

As the Obama administration continues to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the nations banking system, a growing movement is calling on the government to do more to help students struggling to pay for college.

These are some of their stories.

click pic to see flick

Transcript & links

Tell your student loan story

Take action with Jesse Jackson