Friday, July 31, 2015

Yet another link, but it's a good 'un

This Professor Was Fired for Saying “Fuck No” in Class
M. Goldberg, The Nation, July 2
The misuse of sexual-harassment policies by pusillanimous college administrators is creating a campus panic.
The article outlines examples of student over-sensitivity, not to mention plain old blackmail for a higher grade, that have occurred recently. One professor was told that the student would file a complaint that she felt unsafe in his class unless he raised her B+. Another was fired, without warning, for holding the same role-playing class session on social stratification among prostitutes that she had been running every year for 20 years. “People would be well advised to quake in their boots when they hear they’re being investigated.”

But sometimes things work out in the end...
[The blackmailed professor] gave in to a combination of administrative pressure and fear of being forced to endure the bureaucratic gauntlet of a sexual-harassment investigation. One administrator, he says, told him that while he could fight the potential charges, “at the end of the day he was like don’t bother, it doesn’t even matter. It’s just a stupid grade.” Levinson changed it.

Then, when his fellowship was over and he’d left campus, he logged back in the system and changed it back.
Read it all.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

These Are The People I Worry About. Sid from Santa Fe.

This young woman is not a current student of mine, but the daughter of a colleague. My colleague told me this story and forwarded a blog posting that is excerpted below.

I am not a young man. I'm often annoyed at the way young people act, and when I get kids like this in class, I am equally as afraid for them as I am the planet. 

I'm likely revealing a tremendous lack of empathy by sending this, but I honestly don't know what to make of this world anymore. I don't know how or what I could teach this person. If I am missing something or acting poorly, please forgive me. I just wondered if this strikes anyone like it does me.

She writes:

Last night I was having dinner with my dear friend XXX, and after we finished I took him downstairs to sing him a song in the awesome acoustics of the Wholefoods parking garage. I put all my stuff down in an empty parking spot and then walked around the corner with my ukelele. During the course of one 4 minute song, someone took off with my handbag with all my ID's and cards, keys to my car, some cash, some sacred objects, some really pretty know the whole deal.

The extremely tall cop who did the report said "basically you're S.O.L.". While this has been quite an interesting day of recovering, canceling, letting go of, blah blah blah...the biggest thing I have been sitting with is compassion and SADNESS for the heart and soul of this being, who WHILE I was singing....voice echoing through the parking lot, felt compelled to take my bag...sitting next to my ukulele case...40 feet from where we were standing.

Please if you read, this send a prayer for those who are numb. For those who are hurting. For those who are terrified. For those who have found comfort and safety in apathy and indifference. For those who feel separate and are operating from a win-lose (which is actually a lose-lose) mentality. For those who feel so consumed by the darkness that they have forgotten that they hold the key to allow the light into the cavern of their hearts. In the midst of momentary waves of frustration or feeling inconveniences I am held in the embrace of gratitude for feeling so safe and so loved and so able to give my love...may you be well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Air Up Here

"What's the view from thirty thousand feet?"

This one must really want to be the new deanlet. What else could account for this recent addition of business-speak to his lexicon? Maybe he's read a book called "Speak Like the Boss You Want To Be" or somesuch. I make a mental note to wish death upon the author, then ponder my own predilections, one of which is occasionally to quote a line from a movie. Right now, I'm thinking What we've got here is, failure to communicate.

"Are you asking how it's going?" I demur, trying not to reward his annoying new habit.


"In that case, it's going O.K. at the moment. A couple of hiccoughs, but we fixed them."

"Well, then. My work here is done."

"Oh?" I widen my eyes, flash a sincere yet slightly sinister smile, and alter my voice to match. "Your work is just beginning. You have to carry the ball now." I make a sweeping motion with my hand. "All this we have here now, which is the way you wanted it, well, you get it."

I turn on my heel and beat an unhurried retreat to my office. It being too early for me to go home to drink, my unmedicated brain cannot avoid rehashing the events that got us here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I do my best scholarly work when I'm totally making stuff up

With Fab's gracious permission, I'm going to toot my own horn here.

Look over there in the sidebar
My first novel, The Musubi Murder, is finally out. It has lots of classic misery: plagiarizing students, corrupt donors, bottom-line-focused deans, and a powerful and a well-funded Office of Student Retention. Also murder.

The folks at Audible have provided some complimentary reviewer codes, and I'd like to give them away.

If you'd like a free audiobook from, narrated by the amazing Nicole Gose, email me at frankie (at) frankiebow (dot) com so I can gift it to you. All you need is an Amazon login; no Audible subscription required.

Naturally, all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Thanks to Fab and to the Miserians who have already downloaded the Kindle version. Now, back to your previously scheduled misery.

Why do academics so often say, "No one ever told me!" when having career trouble?

Approaching mammatus at sunset, bad news for night pilots and astronomers

I got interested in science when I was five years old, at the 1964 World's Fair. I was initially interested in dinosaurs, but I switched fields to astronomy when I was still five, and I've been at it ever since.

All throughout Project Apollo, the '70s, and most of the Space Shuttle program, up to when I finally got tenure in 2005, I was told about nine billion times, "A degree in ASTRONOMY? What are you going to do with THAT?" I was told this by seemingly everyone: relatives, academic advisers nearly every step of the way, friends, and often people I'd just met.

I understood early that many more people want to work as astronomers than there will ever be jobs for them. It's much like making a living as an actor, or a musician—or getting a job as an astronaut. I therefore don't understand why so many academics say, "No one ever told me!" when they're having career trouble.

I don't want to seem hard or mean, since I spent too many years as a postdoc and as an Accursed Visiting Assistant Professor. Fourteen years of never being able to see a year into the future caused me chronic anxiety that was awful, almost as bad as the skimpy paychecks. One particularly unscrupulous boss would yell, "Your work is its own reward!" when cutting my pay. Me yelling back, "So give me your paycheck!" didn't help.

It made my brain want to scream, but still, I wasn't surprised by it. I'd been reminded about nine billion times that this wouldn't be easy, and that risk was involved. I knew this at least since I was seven years old, when a relative gave me a copy of "The Question and Answer Book of Space" (then new), and I read its entry, "Is it easy to become an astronaut?" (It said no, since many more people wanted to be astronauts than there were jobs for them.) I knew that there was a significant possibility that I'd never make any living as an astronomer, much less a decent one.

So, as a veteran of plenty of career trouble, I still don't understand why so many academics say, "No one ever told me!" when having career trouble. Karen Kelsky, on her site "The Professor Is In," reports she often gets this remark from academics having career trouble (although I didn't see any astronomers quoted on her site).

Why do they say this? I never did, since I was told about nine billion times to expect a struggle. But of course, per ardua ad astra. When I was an undergraduate, in the mid-to-late '70s, most of my fellow astronomy students knew it wouldn't be easy. This might have partly been because in the '70s, after the cancellation of Project Apollo, unemployed Ph.D.s were novel.

Many academics today seem genuinely surprised when they have career trouble. Why? Do people not say, "A degree in ______? What are you going to do with THAT?" in fields other than astronomy?

Curiously also, most of my students today seem genuinely surprised when I tell them about the stinky job market in astronomy. Why?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rosemary in Raleigh. Faculty Paperwork Day. A Visit to the Kiosk.

I recently took a full time teaching job at a new institution. It's been 12 years since I was a new hire and I'd forgotten the gauntlet one must run in order to be an official member of the university.

For 4 1/2 hours I've battled, all with perfectly reasonable and friendly people, strait-jacketed by a humongous and labyrinthine set of forms and online portals. HR, benefits, the ID shop (in an absolutely terrifying "shed" in a part of campus where I assume they bury the bodies of those who cannot survive the ordeal), and then finally the parking services kiosk.

The kiosk, a two person affair where one is made to stand in the sun while molasses-slow - yet smiling - attendants slide paperwork through a chute and then wait, chewing gum, while one tries to negotiate said form against the outer wall of the kiosk, stained and bumpy, with one, two, no, three different pens.

$180 to park. I can pay it. I have a salary; one is not complaining about the money.

But in the sun, and the 90% humidity, one leans in close when the chute opens briefly to feel the cool air - from where? - emanate.

A walk to a parking lot some distance to retrieve the car's tag number, which will change in a week when one finally gets to the state tag office, and then a return to a line. 2 people outside the kiosk now, smiling. One's torn piece of paper held aloft to the kiosk people. One has the number; one is ready to complete.

And meanwhile cars roll on either side of the kiosk while one - and 2 others - scurry and press bodies hard against the stained and bumpy wall to afford passage.

One's eyes blur. One's head beads. The sun now, just 60 feet off the surface of the earth. The occasional gasp of chilled chute air the only thing keeping us alive.

Tomorrow a different building, where one will meet with IT folks - indoors, one hopes.

In my car a gyro and warming tea in a sweaty cup. One can't see my car from here. One has already forgotten in which directions it waits. Seriously, one's brain is fried.

But it is my turn again, the chute opens, I press my head toward it. A hand reaches out, welcoming, welcome to the university. Here's what we promised you. Here is the end of this battle.

A red hang tag. It says "STUDENT" in gigantic black letters.


When I saw that a sociology professor at Baylor had replaced exams with "Celebrations of Learning," I assumed that it was yet another manifestation of the panderocracy, another signpost along the good-intention-paved road along which our handbasket appears to be picking up speed.

Imagine my relief, then, to find that these Celebrations are just ordinary exams, with a friendlier name. And balloons.

The corporate world is way ahead of us on this naming thing, as usual. Thanks to the linguistic innovators in the Fortune 500's HR offices, blood-soaked, livelihood-destroying mass layoffs are now referred to "rightsizing" or "simplifying."

What unpleasant necessities of academic life might we profitably rebadge?

A student who fails a class and has to retake it has been invited for an encore performance.

Plagiarism? How about extremely sincere flattery?

Fellow Miserians, what else ya got?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Incoming herd of geniuses spotted." From Dr. Amelia.

Chit chat on our forum for incoming fresh persons:

Anonymous moose: I hate the common reading.

Anonymous anteater: I'm not doing the common reading.

Anonymous ostrich: Why don't we all make a virtual book club and each just read part of the common reading?

Anonymous snipe: Great, we'll all just read 50 pages and summarize it.

Anonymous paramecium: Awesome - now I don't have to waste like 4 hours of my summer reading this stupid thing.

Anonymous snipe; Hey, look how many people have answered this! We only have to read like a paragraph each.

Anonymous ostrich: I'm making a Google Doc for everyone to post their paragraph summaries.

Anonymous guppy: You are my hero, Anonymous Ostrich!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Next Week: 100% Community Generated Posts!

Starting Monday, all posts will be generated by community members! Those 30+ folks with posting rights should feel free to put something up on the page, and anyone who's a reader is welcome to hit us with an email (also in the sidebar) with any misery you want to share!

Friday, July 24, 2015

RYS Flashback. 8 Years Ago From the Gainesville Sun.

Some college professors have had enough of scathing, mean-spirited reviews by students on, so they're striking back with a Web site of their own.

The Rate Your Students blog gives students and faculty alike a venting outlet.

"Students can tell us why they won't take the iPod out during a lecture, and professors can tell us why their clothes are so frumpy," according to the Rate Your Students Web site,

The site was created in November 2006 in retaliation to Rate My Professors, according to a New York Times article, by a professor at a Southern liberal arts college. After the site was hacked into and shut down in February, the professor handed management over to three other professors, according to The Times.

Since then, there have been over 500 anonymous blog posts on the site. Although some posts are constructive advice, most are complaints that range in topics from the laziness of their students and annoyance with bad course evaluations to inappropriate requests and e-mails.

The rest.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This Week's Big Thirsty and a Flashback to 8 Years Ago.

I dare you to publish this on your inconsequential blog!

Ten Reasons To Quit Your Jobs 

(and don't replace my title with your usual glib and unfunny 'attempts' at humor)

  1. Because you think your own 'research' is more important than students. (PS: nobody reads academic books except other academics.)
  2. Because students need guidance not disciplinary punishments and 'rules'.
  3. Because you only work 8 months of the year while many of your students and the rest of the 'real' world work 12 or more.
  4. Because an 'academic' degree means less and less in this world. (Check out to see why.)
  5. Because on this site you all complain so much about hating it. Why wouldn't you choose to be 'happy'?
  6. Because too many of you have taught for too long and are 'burnt out' and have stopped bringing new material into the classroom anyway.
  7. Because too many of you rely on Powerpoint and old notes.
  8. Because I can 'earn' my education through books and the internet without having to pay a dime of your overpriced tuition.
  9. Because I care more about my education than you 'ever' did.
  10. Because you aren't good enough.

I have read most of your entries and am disgusted. I think it's repulsive that an 'authority' figure would stoop to such a low height to make fun of students like you do. I know you'll just delete this, but I think you should have an alternative position on your blog to show what a farce you are.


Q: Which number pisses you off the most?
Which one comes closest to the truth?

The Return Of The Schhhhhhhhhwag!

The "Why I Drink" Mousepad. (Also available on a flask and a sweatshirt!)

from our partners at Cafe Press

Nothing Could Go Wrong Here.

Please correct me.
University of Missouri professors and staff members have been encouraged to confront colleagues who fail to use noninclusive language, the College Fix reported.

A voluntary workplace diversity seminar last week — “The Power of Words: Inclusive Language at Mizzou” — underscored for those in attendance the importance of using “currently appropriate terminology” in order to bolster diversity.

In encounters with language offenders, the goal is to “draw them out” so they’ll begin to use ”correct words in conversation.”


Wednesday, July 22, 2015


"As one report noted, at Wellesley College students objected to "a sculpture of a man in his underwear because it might be a source of 'triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault.'

While the [students’] petition acknowledged that the sculpture might not disturb everyone on campus, it insisted that we share a 'responsibility to pay attention to and attempt to answer the needs of all of our community members.' Even after the artist explained that the figure was supposed to be sleepwalking, students continued to insist it be moved indoors."


"I Can't Tell You How Excited My Parents And I Were To Be in Separate States." From Lou the Lazy.

Finally, stay in touch with your parents. They’ll miss you, possibly more than you’ll miss them (and your Mom will probably cry). Call, Skype, or text them often – not just when there’s an emergency. Talk to them when you’re in a bad spot, if you think you made a big mistake, or you just need a shoulder and you’re homesick. Remember that you’re an adult now but you’ll always be their kid.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

One more for Onion Appreciation Week

MERIDIAN, ID—Students at Union Junior High School reported Monday that eighth-grade history teacher Evelyn Carmody, a tireless educator who has dedicated her whole life to the vocation of teaching, is a total goddamn bitch.

“I f_____g hate her,” 14-year-old Scarlett Ramsey said of the woman who not only stays up well past midnight providing individual feedback on each paper she grades, but also sets aside nearly $1,000 of her income each year to buy books and basic supplies for students who can’t afford them.

“Give us homework over a three-day weekend? Who does that bitch think she is? I hope she dies.”

Sources also stated that eighth-grade English teacher Mark Bradstone, who doesn’t really give a shit about his job and shows up hungover most mornings, is super popular and very cool. This was the whole thing, but here's the link anyway.

Trev the Revelator Sends This In and Finds It "Reprehensible."

While noting that they match 99 percent of incoming freshmen by compatibility, officials from Boston University’s Office of Residence Life admitted Tuesday that every once in a while they get a kick out of pairing up roommates who will absolutely fucking despise one another.

“Most of the time we look at admitted students’ questionnaires on tidiness and study habits to find the most suitable matches, but every so often we let ourselves have a little fun by putting two people together who will make each other’s every moment in the dorm a living nightmare,” said the department’s director, David Zamojski.

Let Us All Heed The Call for Fall, and Remember What's Important.

Long live the misery, and all who sail on her...

On Mental Illness Within the Faculty. From Inside Higher Ed.

Over the years, Inside Higher Ed has published several essays by faculty members who describe the difficulties of being a professor and receiving appropriate support while facing mental illness. These pieces describe the fears and stigma associated with mental health issues, but relatively few faculty members who feel that they have been mistreated with regard to their mental illness publicize their cases or succeed in bringing legal action about them.

In a rare exception to that trend, an associate professor of chemistry at Boston College filed a grievance with a state agency over how he was treated when he returned from a leave he took to deal with his mental illness. And the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has now found that the professor, William Armstrong, was retaliated against when he returned from the leave. Specifically, the department forced Armstrong to have his office away from the rest of the department, and refused to let him attend department faculty meetings, the commission found.

While the commission found that Armstrong's faculty colleagues may have been justified in their anger over some of his behavior prior to the treatment he received while on leave, taking actions against him after he returned from leave was illegal retaliation. A hearing officer wrote that the department's treatment of Armstrong was "highly irregular, hostile and isolating."

the rest of the misery...

The World. Amirite?

from USA Today:

A recent survey posed one of the more difficult “would you rather” scenarios to adults: have your own nude photos leaked online or your financial information stolen or compromised.

According to the May 2015 phone survey conducted by Braun Research for a MasterCard Safety and Security Survey, 62% of Millennials went with the first choice — opting to hypothetically have their own nude photos leaked online in lieu of dealing with identity left or other financial security issues.


from the Columbus Dispatch:

If the 21-year-old college student hadn’t left her laptop on a library table while she ran to the restroom, the computer might not have been stolen.

If she hadn’t had nude photos of herself on that computer, she might not have been threatened with seeing those photos splashed across the Internet.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Parents Dedicate New College Safe Space In Honor Of Daughter Who Felt Weird In Class Once

The Onion is on top of things, as usual.

...the Stigmores spoke openly about the time their daughter attended a class in which her political science professor “completely ambushed” her with standard course material that did not fit comfortably within her world outlook. Feeling unsettled, the college student reportedly had no way of coping with the challenging position that did not require her to consider the opinion, analyze its shortcomings, and think of possible counterarguments.

Alexis, then a dean’s-list student in her junior year, described spending 40 harrowing minutes of class in a distressed state, forced to look at the world through the eyes of a set of people she disagreed with.
Here's the rest.

College Professors Reveal What They Love (and Hate) About Their Jobs. From Business News Daily.

The part of my job that is least satisfying is the increasing demand to translate teaching and learning in the humanities into numbers so that others can determine our success or failure. This is difficult to do, at best, and inevitably causes the loss of important aspects of what happens in the classroom as well as the depth and breadth of subject matter.

We aren't making widgets on an assembly line, and students are neither customers nor products. Professors are caught in a bind: We are experts in our discipline and dedicated, experienced teachers, asked to translate everything we do into numbers by people who are typically unfamiliar with both our discipline and teaching itself.

The rest.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wisconsin Will Poses the Rare Sunday Thirsty. Roommates.

I was discouraged to read this article last month. It talks about incoming freshmen "picking" their roommates through Facebook and other social media research.

Had I been given the chance all those years ago, I would have picked someone quite like myself, and I would have been robbed of the chance of living in a quad with 3 rather dissimilar and foreign roommates who challenged the way I thought about the world and opened me up in rare and extraordinary ways.

Sure, I had some fights and problems and discomfort, but I learned a lot about getting along in the "real" world, something our social-media-obsessed young people seem to avoid now by connecting only with those they already have so much in common with.

Q: What, if anything, did the college roommate experience teach you?



College-bound students across the country are putting themselves out there.

They're not looking for love; they're picking who they're going to room with during their freshman year in an increasingly popular process known as roommate self-selection.

While the majority of schools still assign roommates, either randomly or based on answers to questionnaires, many are empowering incoming freshmen to find their own through Facebook, apps, and housing software.

Roommate self-selection provides benefits for students and schools alike, creators of these services say. But detractors believe the traditional experience of bunking with someone random offers life-long benefits.

The Rest.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Bright Spot of the Day. From Suzy.

I was debating whether to write about my students who think they can get around my no-laptops policy by using their mobile phones under the desk (Guess what? I see you!) or about the latest idiotic IT-System mismanagement case or the admin-flakes driving me insane, when this floated into my inbox yesterday:

Dear Dr. Suzy,
I am very happy to have received my master's diploma, and I would like to thank you for supporting me in the adventure of applying for this master degree.
Yours, Freddy

Oh my. That was a fight to get Freddy admitted. He was missing some paper that can only be issued in Betelgeuse or whatever and the adminflakes didn't want to admit him. I had looked at his application packet and was pleasantly surprised that he seemed to be a young man who knew what he wanted and he wanted into our Master's program. I fought tooth and nail to get him admitted, and had the pleasure of having him take two of my classes. He was always a great participant, came to class prepared and willing to discuss, and was always glad to help the lazy SOBs who were also taking the class.

Geez, and then he takes time to thank me. Makes me be willing to go to bat for the next ones, and my anger at the IT department cooled back down to only boiling [email is not working today and no one is in the support center].

That was the bright spot of my day, Freddy, thanks!

Suzy from Square State

New Student Questions. From Amelia

Hi everyone,

My uni has a Facebook group for the new students and it's delightful. Here are some real freshperson questions asked on the board. You can try to give your answers:

1. How do you do college and not look like a freshman?
2. Do you want to be my roommate?
3. Is there a Moe's near campus?
4. Do I really have to do the common reading?
5. What are the floors like in the dorms? Are they gross? Should I wear flip flops?

Have a great weekend.

Your pal, Amelia

Friday, July 17, 2015

Emails on the Eve of the Big Deadline

Most common subject of student emails the night before the big paper is due: "I've revised those things that we talked about in conference (and which I'm briefly summarizing for you here). How's it looking now?" [hey!  success!]

Second-most-common subject of student emails the night before the big paper is due: "I'm completely confused by the assignment for the big paper, which I just started, so I'm thinking maybe I should go back and catch up on those missed 3-point discussion-board assignments from a month ago.  What do you think? Or perhaps I could do something for extra credit?"  [sigh.] 

Behind the Door at The DERP -- The Summer Persuasion

Yet another session of perhaps several. (An earlier session was published here.)

[Lights up. Profs. Feta and Stilton are already seated.]

Stilton: How many more today?

Feta: This will be our last one.

Stilton: This could almost be a full-time gig.

Feta: I know, right?

[A knock is heard.]

Feta: Come in!

[The door opens; a student enters.]

Feta: Good afternoon, Student Diagnostician Camembert. Please sit.

Camembert: Hey Doctor Feta . . . Doctor Stilton.

[Stilton nods as Camembert sits.]

Feta: I suppose you're wondering why we called you in to meet with the Diagnostic Educational Review Panel today?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A New CM VidShizzle. Freshman Advice for 2015. Roommates, Textbooks, Staying Fit, Dating! (Apparently Some Rain Kept That Fucker Cal Off the Golf Course Today. Does He Ever Do Any Work?)

This Week's Big Thirsty.

What's the #1 Problem In Higher Ed?
What Is It In Your Department?

‘Scarlet Letter’ would mark transcripts of college students convicted of assault. From WashPo. A Link Sent In By Darla.

Oh, the poor dears. They've committed assault and they're going to be held accountable? Isn't this college? I saw Animal House. Why is the government coming down on us? Man, we're just trying to have a little fun!

Newly proposed D.C. legislation would require colleges to put a permanent and prominent notation on the academic transcripts of students who are convicted of sexual assault or who try to withdraw from school while under investigation for sexual misconduct — a “Scarlet Letter” that would follow them to new schools and graduate programs or into the workforce.

The rest.

Never Heard From This Cal Protege Again, But We'll Always Have This. Three Years Ago Today.

Well, Sure. Perfectly Reasonable.

Utah Valley University is giving its students a lesson about texting while walking.

Matt Bambrough, the school's director of creative services, is taking a stand against the multi-tasking trend that has been "sweeping the nation" by giving texters their own lane on one of the university' staircases, KTVU reported.

"You have 18-24 year olds walking down the hall with smartphones, you're almost bound to run into someone somewhere; it's something we're dealing with in this day and age, " Bambrough told Fusion. "But [preventing collisions] isn't the reason we did it -- we did it to engage the students. It's meant to be there for people to look at and enjoy."

Rest of the misery...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Early Thirsty. What's the Best Policy on Smartphone / Computer Use In Class?

Don't you want to expand that stupid fucking syllabus of yours?

Sample from UNC-Charlotte:
  • The use of cell phones, smart phones, or other mobile communication devices is disruptive, and is therefore prohibited during class. Except in emergencies, those using such devices must leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period.
  • Students are permitted to use computers during class for note-taking and other class-related work only. Those using computers during class for work not related to that class must leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Many Millennials Would Quit If Not Allowed To Do Personal Tasks At Work. More Breaking News.

The Contingent Faculty Train Picks Up Speed.

So my department, after a pretty good period where we've tried to be humane in our use of contingent faculty, has decided to offer 3 positions of "full time instructor" for 5 classes per term for a grand total of $33,500.

The part-timers are lining up for them, too.

It's a matter of a slight increase in our student body and a recent t-t retirement.

Many of us fought this notion, hoping to keep the tenure line open. But when that was lost we fought to make these one year jobs something people could actually live on.

We don't live in a very expensive part of the state, but I got my calculator out and realized only a monk could live on $33,500, especially when said monk has to meet our our new "business casual" "requirement/suggestion" from the Dean.

I don't know. Obviously I'm lucky to have a good job, but I also feel like I should be an advocate for how our department does stuff.

These instructors are going to be stuck in one shitty office in a shitty building barely on campus. AND, part of their re-hire guidelines (1 year to start, 3 years available after a good year) involves some campus service. It seems like too much.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Holy shit, did anyone know this?

The term “contingent faculty” includes both part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty. Their common characteristic is that their institutions make little or no long-term commitment to them.

Today, more than 50 percent of all faculty hold part-time appointments. Many faculty classified as “part-time” actually teach the equivalent of a full-time course load.

To support themselves, part-time faculty often commute between institutions and prepare courses on a grueling timetable, making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students.

Since faculty classified as part-time are typically paid by the course, without benefits, a sizeable number of college teachers lacks access to health insurance and retirement plans.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Six skills to learn in college

I am planning to hand out the following to my large, general-ed, intro-astronomy-for-non-majors class. What do you think? It doesn't need to be longer, since it's probably too long for many of them to take the time to read. What should I cut?


Six skills to learn in college

Have you heard the old saying that college is just about getting a fancy piece of paper? This is no longer true. For an education to be worth anything for employment after graduation, students need to learn skills.

No matter what your major, while you are in college, learn these six skills.

(1) Think critically and carefully, which means reason and question.

(2) Read carefully and closely, with good retention.

(3) Find things out by doing serious research. Google and Wikipedia do not count.

(4) Write something that someone might actually want to read.

(5) Become proficient in mathematics. Math is your friend: employers will think you are valuable if you can use mathematics well enough to solve real-world problems. Computers and statistics can help here.

(6) Speak effectively in front of a group of people.

If you graduate without at least three of these skills, you have wasted your time.

This class is too large to help you learn public speaking. It can help you learn the other five skills. You can learn all these skills in most majors.