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Fri Apr 15, 2016, 02:33 PM

Question for those of you who currently teach at the University level.

If you were to choose today would you choose to be a College Professor? My husband and I had this discussion last night, he is in his 18th year as a professor and we are both thinking he should have gone to a national lab or industry.

Sad thing is, he loves teaching, loves his students and interacting with them. However, the federal funding is drying up, no more research money for many people. We lost summer salary when his NSF grant ended and was not renewed. That took a third of his salary. He is teaching this summer, but they could only give him one class, a 4 week class and a payment of $2000 for teaching a class of 100. Not even close to what we lost with the grant.

No raises for the past few years and with no grant right now, (there are 6 in the pipeline to be reviewed), there won't be any. Everything is based on research, not teaching.

I don't think we would choose this path if we were coming out now with student loans. It is hard not to discourage young grad students who want to follow him to the classroom.

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Reply Question for those of you who currently teach at the University level. (Original post)
redstatebluegirl Apr 2016 OP
LisaM Apr 2016 #1
redstatebluegirl Apr 2016 #5
eppur_se_muova Apr 2016 #6
redstatebluegirl Apr 2016 #9
Blue Meany Apr 2016 #2
DeGreg Apr 2016 #3
Eleanors38 Apr 2016 #4
ladym55 Apr 2016 #7
redstatebluegirl Apr 2016 #8

Response to redstatebluegirl (Original post)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 02:37 PM

1. I don't teach at a college, but I agree with your frustration 100%

I do have friends who are college professors, and the current lack of respect for the profession is galling. Money is being tied up in administration, adjuncts are treated like pizza delivery drivers, and schools are blowing money on things like fancy meal plans and spa-like facilities to woo rich students rather than paying their academic stars. Everything is monetized.

I hear your pain, I hope your husband sticks it out, and that more attention is drawn to this topic.

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Response to LisaM (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 04:12 PM

5. I want him to, but it is getting hard to stick it out.

They keep hiring more and more administrators. Every problem is "solved" by hiring a new vice provost or vice president at a very high salary. His teaching load has gotten crazy and they are still pushing him, even with tenure, to write more papers, more grants and do more service. It is nuts to be sure.

He loves teaching, but those are the ones they are running out of the building. They are treated like crap while researchers who can't and won't teach are treated like kings. Crazy times we live in.

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 04:41 PM

6. "Researchers ... are treated like kings" ... where, pray tell, is this Utopia ?

I have been trying to land a position that favors research over teaching since I got my PhD in 1999. They are not to be found. The only positions for which I can get hired are part-time and/or temporary teaching positions, with ZERO possibility of research. It seems the only people who have any chance to do research are those who were hired under "the old rules". As these people retire, there are going to be none to replace them, and our universitites will be such in name only.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 17, 2016, 06:08 PM

9. That doesn't go with what we have seen at our institution.

Not sure what field you are applying in, but if you are hard science or engineering, research is what they want. You will still have to teach, but if you are successful in getting large grants (over a million). you won't be teaching long. The pressure will increase for you to continue to get renewals on those grants, and your tenure will be tied to your grant production.

I don't know what you mean by "old rules", they have changed dramatically since we got here. We have friends teaching at top 10 schools and things are even more research based at those schools.

If you are social science and trying to do research, blame the government, they aren't funding that research much any more, same with education. When biochemistry funding has been cut to the bone you know social science people are hurting.

Good luck to you, don't adjunct long, it paints you with a brush that makes finding a tenure track position pretty hard.

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Original post)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 02:42 PM

2. I have advised my daughter not to go into academia

 

because the corporatisation of it has made in to much like a business, and it is becoming a pink-collar ghetto where adjunct professors do most of the teaching for terrible wages.

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Original post)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 02:51 PM

3. Everything and anything...

 

I have been an adjunct (an issue all on its own) and in order to do the job properly in the hours necessary I calculated I was making less than minimum wage. I could not conscience putting in less work -- so I'm no longer an adjunct.

I believe our nation has lost its conscience, especially the new breed of neoliberals who have decided everything is about the money.
Everything for a dollar, anything for a dollar.

Our universities have been operating with "profit" motives instead if knowledge motives. One need only read up on how schools pushed up tuition in order to push student loans in order to get a percentage just as the Fed Gov does (gets a piece).

I've been disgusted to watch this happen in institutions of "higher learning," but it's no surprise, in a nation and a culture where it's-- Everything for a dollar, anything for a dollar. And conscienceless to boot.

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Original post)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 02:55 PM

4. Got out of college teaching 40 yrs ago....

 

It was all P-TT for three years, averaging 9-12 hrs/semester (up to 4 courses). There is always the promise that you are on the short list for a full-time position when it opens up. Hell, when it did after 3 yrs and I was, iirc, the only in-house instructor applying, the job went to someone new who fitted the college's EEOC imperatives (the head of our teaching "area," or field of study, was out-of-field and nearly full-time in another discipline). I saw the hand-writing on the wall. My Dad, who retired his professorship after 34 years at a major university, saw his experience as an end of an era, and considered himself lucky.

I wasn't looking for big bucks or some ad. job. I was just a very good teacher who was neither wanted nor needed. Fortunately, I was also a good auto mechanic!

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Original post)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 04:43 PM

7. Thoughts from a recent retiree from higher education

My husband and I feel your pain. Higher education needs to relocate its soul. Students and their families need to realize that all the big tuition bucks are going to well-dressed edu-babble speaking administrators and giant money pits known formally as "athletic programs," or those things that apparently EVERY university MUST have for success in the US!!

I don't know what will turn things around. My husband was tenure-track faculty member and loved working with his students. In his later career, he was an administrator and enjoyed mentoring faculty. And actually that ended his career--the HIGH-UP administration did not want administrators who supported faculty. It was very sad.

I was an adjunct, one of that growing number of underpaid and overworked people expected to teach more and more classes to save money for more of those expensive administrators. The students were great, but the working conditions were hellish. Those working conditions had a direct impact on the quality of the class experience for students. Adjuncts do not have access to the programs and technology of a full-time faculty member does. At the end of my career, I worked on the academic side of student support services, which are also underfunded because they aren't cute and flashy.

For your husband--he is facing what so many faculty are facing. The same expensive administrators whine that faculty aren't teaching enough so course loads go through the roof, and at the same time, they whine that class sizes are too small, so class sizes also go nuts. Where I worked, it was determined that if an intro sociology class with 40 people was okay, why not one with 100 students? No one has the time to grade research papers for one section of 100 students, so good-bye writing.

I also think that people don't realize how much grant funding has dried up with the current crop of dummies occupying the halls of Congress. When you have uneducated bible thumpers in power, they can't see the importance of research and what that has meant for us as a country. Then you suffer when the grants dry up and the university squeezes summer incomes.

I think we all need to wake up and pay attention to higher education. You deserve a good life, and you and your spouse should be able to do the work that has meaning for you.

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Response to ladym55 (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 05:25 PM

8. All I can say is AMEN!

And that is not like me at all. I spent 15 years in Student Services, when I left I had over 700 kids I was personally responsible for. It grew every single year. I hear they are up to 1500 now.

My husband is doing bio medical research, but it isn't "sexy" enough for the current crop of program officers. If it isn't cancer, ebola, heart disease or dementia they really could care less.

It is sad that smart people are being demonized, it used to be great to be a professor and looked up to. Now these kids and the administration and parents look down their noses at faculty.

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