Adjuncts on the Diane Rehm Show

The Diane Rehm show out of Washington, DC featured an important segment on adjunct professors this week. The public radio show has an estimated 1.7 million listeners. On the show Wednesday were Maria Maisto, executive director of New Faculty Majority, and Peter Schmidt who authored the recent Chronicle of Higher Education piece on the Adjunct Action national adjunct union. The hour-long show gives a solid background on the current state of academic labor, and it also gives Maisto and Schmidt a great platform to explain the problem.  Some good discussions came from listeners, as well, who called into the show in order to weigh in on the adjunct issue. Other guests on the show included two academic administrators who did their best to obscure the problem and deflect the issue by obfuscating and shifting blame, but Maisto handles them well by continuing to … Continue Reading ››

Featured Job – April 18, 2014

The past few weeks our featured job has been a professor position. This week, I'm mixing things up a little. In honor of the new Flexible Academics group at Vitae, I'm featuring a job this week that qualifies as a flexible academic position. The featured job this week is a Research Editor position for RAND Corporation. This job sounds really cool. If I were on the market right now, I would definitely apply. RAND Corporation Here are the details about RAND's Research Editor:
  • Senior-level Research Editor with a diverse range of editing and communications skills who will be responsible for online developmental editing, copyediting, copywriting, and typesetting and page layout for print, electronic, and web products in support of the publication of final, peer-reviewed RAND research products
  • Also advises writers and researchers in matters of style, … Continue Reading ››

Negotiating Tips Podcast

Just want to share a podcast series I'm learning a lot from. I only found it this week, but the podcast was produced a few years ago by Slate and it's called Negotiation Academy. The series is proving to be a useful tool for thinking about salary negotiations. The whole series is only ten podcasts about 15-20 minutes a piece. Each episode covers a different topic on negotiation strategy from preliminary research to BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement) to asking for a raise. So far every episode has taught me some new piece of negotiation strategy that I can incorporate into my daily life. I haven't quite finished the series yet, but I can strongly recommend it. I've been starting each morning lately with a podcast and a new negotiation tip. Give it a shot and see what you think. I'll probably pull the series all together in a future … Continue Reading ››

Hey Unions! Wake Up!

Yesterday I was unabashedly pro-union. Today I'm going to play a bit of a skeptic. That's pretty much the way I've always dealt with unions. I like them in theory, but I sometimes wonder how much they actually do for their members. I think it's good to challenge the union occasionally to keep it working hard for the people. I have a little union experience myself actually. My first paycheck came from a union job. I bagged groceries at Kroger, and I paid union dues out of every paycheck. $4.23 a week. That was 1996 and I was sixteen years old. As far as I could tell the main thing we got in exchange for our membership was a due process system that basically made it impossible to be fired. Stealing was about the only justifiable cause for a supervisor to can one of us. Truth … Continue Reading ››

Adjunct Action Continues to Gain Strength

There's an excellent piece up today at The Chronicle of Higher Education on adjunct professor faculty unions. No sense trying to replicate the top notch reporting that Peter Schmidt has done regarding Adjunct Action and the SEIU. Just head over to The Chronicle's site and read the article. Peter Schmidt is a senior reporter at The Chronicle, and he is the newspaper's specialist on faculty unions. His stuff is always worth reading, but this in-depth piece of reporting on the work of Adjunct Action is especially strong. Ever since I saw the Adjunct Action Twitter account a year or so ago, I knew the group was on to something big. I've been an outspoken proponent of their work since day one. The first unionization victories in Washington, DC led to the "metro-organizing" strategy which seeks to unite adjuncts by region rather than by school.

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Should I Force Students to Read Paper Comments?

Last week, I wrote about the way I have dramatically reduced my grading load this semester by skipping comments on student papers. As usual, my readers helped clarify my position.  I could have more accurately written that I reduced my grading load by switching to a face-to-face commenting structure rather than attempting to write comments on every student paper. The main problem with trying to comment on every paper is I am inevitably wasting time writing out some comments that are never even read by the students they're intended for. No matter how hard we try as teachers (or how much we deny the truth), there are just some students who don't care about the feedback. These students flip to the bottom of the page, check the grade, and toss the paper in the trash along with all those painstakingly-crafted comments. Maybe I'm too much of a realist---or too cynical---but … Continue Reading ››

Featured Job – April 10, 2014

The featured job this week comes from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC. The job title is unassuming, but it actually sounds like a pretty cool position: Instructor of Humanities. Despite the simple name, this job is a tenure-track teaching position. And it only requires a master's degree. However, the school is looking for a specialized scholar in American Studies, Global History, African Studies, or Comparative Literature. That significantly narrows down the field, so those who qualify have a better chance of getting an interview.

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Here are the highlights of the position:
  • Must have three years experience teaching at a college or a college-prep school. University writing experience especially helpful.
  • Full-time, ten-month appointment in the Department of Humanities, with full benefits … Continue Reading ››

What is a Flexible Academic?

I've never been quite satisfied with the labels #altac and #postac. It seems like they don't do justice to the people they describe. Sarah Kendzior once pointed out on Twitter that these terms define a person based on what he is not, rather than on what he is. In order to be an alternate academic or a post-academic, you have to not be a normal academic. The names suggest that the alternative categories are less important than the category from which they are derived. Ever since I saw Kendzior's tweet, that hierarchical naming structure has stuck with me. I've wished for a new way to describe academics who choose to pursue other career tracks beyond … Continue Reading ››

My Graduate Degree’s Default Setting

I ended up a teacher by accident. At some point during three years of graduate school, I got it into my head that I was going to teach college students. I never even liked teaching or public speaking or even being around people all that much. So, naturally, I decided to become a teacher. Actually here's what happened: Someone told me at some point that teaching was a thing people do after they get a master's degree in English. That's what caused it. Someone said I should do it, and for some damned reason that was all I needed to hear. I remember the day two women came to one of my graduate classes and talked about planning for the future after grad school. It was one of those pep talks or something like it. Come to think of it, though, they were mainly just recruiting future adjunct professors for the satellite … Continue Reading ››

It’s Time for the AAUP to Get Serious About Adjunct Pay

Despite increased attention on the plight of adjunct professors, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is still showing its bias against this professorial underclass. The 2013-2014 AAUP Faculty Salary Survey data was released today and, just as in years past, it does not include a category for adjunct professor pay. This despite the fact that adjuncts and other non-tenure-track professors now make up the majority of the professoriate. As this report reveals, tenure-track faculty members are still prioritized in the AAUP's salary data. By the AAUP's own statistics, tenure-track faculty make up only about 30% of professors now. The AAUP's continued ignorance of the majority in their annual salary data is inexcusable.

Combined Operations

To be fair, the AAUP has begun to get much more involved in the fair pay for … Continue Reading ››

News & Opinions for Grad Students and Higher Ed Faculty