Marsellus Wallace on Higher Education

Moody’s Investors Service, a company that ranks the creditworthiness of borrowers, has just issued a negative short-term outlook for the entire sector of higher education. Yeah, the entire sector.

According to the Moody’s report, “state-government appropriations, investment earnings, gifts, research grants, and patient-care reimbursements are all facing economic pressure.” Which basically means revenue sources for colleges are continuing to dry up. For colleges that are already struggling to keep their doors open, it’s going to get worse apparently.

Marsellus Wallace on Higher Education

Is Higher Ed OK?

In a sector that is already cutting dangerous corners with a labor force full of temporary employees, another financial setback could be devastating. Add to that an influx of “educational entrepreneurs” who seek to cash in on this higher education shake up, and the result is a dire necessity to make some changes.

Is higher education OK? Let’s ask Marsellus Wallace.
Marsellus, is higher education OK?


We can’t keep doing things the same in higher education and expect everything to be OK. Overcharging for an education that is facilitated by exploited adjunct labor, while university administrators draw salaries in the hundreds of thousands is finally starting to catch up with colleges. Students are getting rightfully pissed about the misappropriation of their huge tuition bills.

Even the IRS and the Wall Street Journal have entered the discussion as some universities have arrogantly proclaimed that they will be cutting employees’ hours to avoid legislation established by the Affordable Care Act. What infuriating arrogance. And they have the audacity to blame the ACA and President Obama for their own selfish and crass policies.

Just to set the record straight, all these companies who are blaming the Affordable Care Act for the fact that they are shortchanging employees and temp-ifying their workforce are full of crap. They’re trying to drive a wedge into healthcare reform by claiming it’s hurting American workers. No, companies who hire and fire temps for minimum wage and offer no benefits are what’s actually hurting American workers. But, I digress.

The point is the outlook for higher education continues to get worse. And the way to fix it is not to keep devaluing it by staffing with temps and relying on inferior educational models like MOOCs. It’s going to require a complete overhaul of the system and, perhaps most importantly, a serious look at every single line item on the budget. Including the ones that have traditionally been off the table.

PS: Here’s a little something fun I made. Kids these days like the memes, I hear.

Marsellus Wallace on Adjuncts

MLA 2013 Convention and the Year of the Adjunct

Did you feel it?

During the first weekend of 2013, Boston pulsed to the beat of the adjunct. At the MLA 2013 Convention, you couldn’t turn around without hearing about contingent faculty issues in one form or another.

It all began on Thursday evening when the convention kicked off with the historic, first-ever all-adjunct presidential forum. Outgoing MLA President Michael Bérubé presided over a panel that consisted of New Faculty Majority Executive Director Maria Maisto; Beth Landers, a French professor at the University of Missouri; and Bob Samuels, president of the California AFT University Council and a lecturer at UCLA. What an honor it was for me to speak in the company of these great leaders and teachers.

MLA Boston 2013

I had the privilege of opening the forum and beginning what will become one of the most important weekends in history for adjunct justice.

The massive ballroom contained the largest audience I’ve ever addressed, and I confess to being a little nervous. I knew, though, that I had to record the audio of my speech, even if it would be one more thing to worry about. After all, most of the people interested in hearing it couldn’t afford to fly to Boston and attend the conference.

The audio worked out pretty well. Better than I thought it would, in fact. I had my recorder right next to the pages, so you will hear them as they turn, but other than that, everything is pretty clear. In the first minute or so, you’ll hear Bérubé introducing us and then I start at about the 1:20 mark. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Hope you agree. You’ll see the audio player at the end of the post or you can listen here now.

More on Adjuncts From MLA 2013

But my speech was just one of many during this MLA 2013 weekend. Maisto, Landers, and Samuels all gave excellent presentations, as well. Several panels also featured discussions and papers on adjunct labor. Then there was, of course, Bérubé’s presidential address, a rousing call to action and passionate defense of the humanities and those who teach them–all those who teach them, including and especially those who do it for next to nothing.

As soon as he finished speaking, the place erupted. Maria Maisto and I stood up and the rest of the ballroom followed. The speech was well-worthy of the standing O, as was Michael Bérubé for all the work he has done for adjuncts and for the future of university faculty. Audio of Bérubé’s address should be available soon on the MLA website.

As if all this wasn’t enough, The Chronicle of Higher Education and I released the new version of the Adjunct Project to much excitement and buzz. Editor Liz McMillen and I fielded questions and listened to stories during a reception on Saturday, while two marketing professionals from The Chronicle deftly conducted demonstrations of the new site. It was more than I ever could have imagined last February when we adjuncts built our spreadsheet. We’ve come a long way and our level of public exposure continues to grow.

Read more about the weekend and MLA 2013 from William Pannapacker in The End of MLAlienation and What if the Adjuncts Shrugged?

Also, more on the Adjunct Project at Adjunct Project Reveals Wide Range in Pay and MLA Sessions Keep the Focus on Adjuncts.

Were any of you at the conference or following it on Twitter? What were your high points?

My MLA 2013 Presidential Forum Speech:

MLA 2013 Speech