Saturday, April 13, 2013

Open Letter from a [Rutgers] University Lecturer

Discovered via Margaret Soltan, who titles her post pointing to the letter "Well, this guy is out of a job."

His key points, I think, speak for themselves:

I teach core curriculum classes to between 80 and 90 students per year and earn $18,000 for two semesters. . . .In other words, Rice, for leading a handful of students in a non-academic activity through a single season, earned as much as 38 times my annual income — before his healthcare and benefits are accounted for (I receive none, which at least simplifies the math at my end).
Set aside that Rice’s behavior was characterized as criminal by his former colleagues, while my student assessments (to which I assume you have access) show that I regularly score above the average for instructors for the course, the level and the department. Also set aside that my work, like his, involves numerous unpaid hours of preparation and external stresses. Let us look only at the matter in terms of what students receive and experience.
Students playing basketball — indeed, undertaking any activity — at the University deserve to be treated with respect, and it was clearly with this need for respect in mind that you made the decision to terminate Rice’s employment. I suggest, however, that there is another measure of respect that can be assessed in this situation: that students studying writing or pharmacology or art (and even those who are undeclared) deserve the respect that is implied by paying their teachers a living wage, that the activities to which they devote themselves and their futures not be dismissed as only one-thirty-eighth as important as those of a sports team.
The whole letter is here.  It is also probably worth noting that the Daily Targum has a Mike Rice scandal homepage.  Do they do that when a faculty member wins a Nobel Prize, or MacArthur, or similar award, I wonder?  Still, it's good to see they're covering the story, and I must say I've been pretty impressed by student papers on embattled campuses lately. The Cavalier Daily did a pretty good job with the UVA mess last year.   Maybe journalism isn't dying after all?  If so, it's a good thing, since blogs, which are supposedly the alternative, are highly derivative of, and hence dependent on, more traditional journalism.  Now to figure out how both journalists and proffies can make decent wages at reasonably stable jobs in this brave new economy.


  1. Conjecture: Let C be a county in the US where the largest employer is a public university with NCAA basketball or football teams (men's, of course). Then if you list the county's public servants by annual salary, the top earner will be a coach, by a wide margin (certainly higher than that of the U's president or chancellor.)

    To verify the conjecture, if you work at such a U just go to the local paper's website and look up the salaries of public employees (if you haven't done so already.) Of course, no number of examples is a proof, but I'd be curious to hear of a counterexample.

    1. For non-US readers: the acronym means Not Concerned with Academic Achievement.

    2. I haven't done the research, but I would concur with the conjecture. Things really are sadly out of whack.