Saturday, December 19, 2009

3/4 Classes Graded, and I Need a Break (MLA Meet-Ups, Thoughts on Grad School in English, etc. to follow)

First things first:

I've only heard from like 4 people re: an MLA meet-up on the 27th (which is indeed when it shall happen). If you don't email me at reassignedtime at gmail then you will not get to know where said meet-up is, for I don't believe in publicizing that shit for all of teh internets to see. And I won't be doing any twittering sort of meet-up because I don't do the twittering - which is what I think makes more sense to call it than "tweeting" (even though I did sign up for an account once and like a gajillion people apparently follow my feed, to which I've never posted a substantive update after that first signing up day). So the point here is, if you're into the MLA meeting up with Crazy and other bloggy peeps, you should totally send me an email so that we can make actual plans. I'll be sending a mass email out re: time/location just before MLA, so why not say Christmas Eve is your deadline. Indeed, email me by the 24th or you're out of the loop. (To those of you who've emailed already, I've got you on my list, and in the worst case we will have an intimate meet-up in which we all drink lots of whiskey, or whatever your drink of choice is :) )

And now, for the actual real post that I want to write. I suspect that you've all seen this news from the MLA about the status of the job market. Because I am the bearer of bad tidings at Christmastime, I sent the article to which I linked along to BES, and of course totally made her anxious and unhappy, only then to try to cheer her up. As I said to her, though, it's better to know. But so anyway, Roxie also posted about this, and Historiann linked to Roxie and had a few comments of her own. So I've been thinking a lot about this report about the state of the English job market, especially as I was grading seminar papers for my first ever grad class in our brand-spanking-new MA program.

Let me note this: yes, I'm teaching what are technically "graduate students." But I teach a 4/4 load, and all we've got is an MA program. If I had my druthers, I'd probably not teach in the grad program at all. I enjoy teaching my undergrad students more, and on the whole I think that my undergrad students are stronger students than the grad students in our program. I teach in our grad program as a service to my department, to my institution, and to my region. It is not tremendously rewarding, nor does it really enhance my prestige or my research.

This might surprise you, that I'm saying that. You might think, as is the common wisdom, that all professors are dying to teach grad students. This is often one of the arguments that is asserted when people talk about the "over-supply" of English MAs and PhDs. The "fat-cat" tenured folks just "want to teach graduate students" and so this accounts for the fact that too many people are admitted to graduate programs in a glutted discipline, and this accounts for the adjunct track that currently exists in English.*

Most importantly, let me also note, there is "teaching grad students" in the sense of teaching students who will go on to become part of one's profession and then there is "teaching grad students" who are the cash cow of an underfunded regional university. These two things are not the same thing. The grad students in my department's MA program are not the grad student that I was, nor are they the grad students who would have attended my MA or PhD programs. We started our program not because we had ambitions of sending students on to the professoriate (even the community college professoriate). We started our program a) because we have a lot of high school teachers who need an MA in order to get a pay bump, and having an MA program would allow us to serve those teachers; b) because another audience for our program is people who need an MA to advance in their non-academic jobs, and we can serve them by offering such a program; c) because, in terms of the administration of our own curriculum, we were already offering a graduate curriculum, over which we had no control, to serve other graduate programs at our university, and it was important to us to maintain control over the curriculum that we offer. In other words, in starting our program, we had no ambitions to produce college teachers.

The bulk of the students in our program are unfunded (and I advise all of my undergrads that they shouldn't go to grad school in English without full funding) and even those who get funding are only partially funded. In other words, I would never advise an undergrad student of mine to enroll in our grad program. So the fact that I teach in it hurts my feelings at least and compromises my integrity at worst. But here I am.

The best I can say for myself is that many of my students have their current employers paying for their MA.

But so. I teach graduate students. Most of them have no ambitions toward the professoriate. Those who do, I do my best to dissuade. At the end of the day, this is probably the best I can do.

What does all of this have to do with the MLA report? Well, the thing that pissed me off most was not the news about the dearth of t-t jobs. It was the comments of Rosemary Feal and the president of the MLA grad caucus, Alysia E. Garrison, that indicated that the problem was not the number of grad students that programs admit.

According to Inside Higher Ed,
"But Feal cautioned against trying to solve the job market problem by shrinking graduate programs. Many programs are turning out great new professors, whose teaching and research should be advanced. "It would be a shame for academic programs to calibrate the number of students they admit exclusively on short-turn fluctuations. That would be short-sighted and rather sad," she said.

and, for Garrison,

"Still, she said she would oppose any shrinking of programs. "The declining presence on campus of humanities programs would signal a decline in their importance to the university community," she said. "Admitting fewer graduate students may also justify decisions to cut writing programs and to move toward online delivery models of student instruction, particularly for lower-division writing and literature courses that graduate students have traditionally taught."

Look, I agree that individual programs are not to blame for the adjunctification of higher ed generally or of English specifically. But seriously: a field in which 75% of people with the required degree and qualifications have no fucking hope of getting a job is not going to increase the number of tenure-track positions. Nor will a continuation of that increase the status of the humanities in the wider culture and nor will it increase the capital of programs or departments that produce humanities degrees. I do not blame people who end up on the adjunct track for ending up there. I do not blame people for pursuing this degree and this passion, if they can get into a program. I do blame programs for admitting people when they have no reasonable expectation of them getting a full-time job with benefits. This is not a matter of a "short-term fluctuation." This is reality, and it's the reality we can expect into the future.

And as far as writing programs go, if institutions believe in the teaching of writing as a discipline, then they should hire people who are qualified to teach writing, or at the very least offer faculty development opportunities for people across the university to qualify them to teach those courses. Allowing for an entire field of study to be covered by grad students and adjuncts who don't necessarily specialize in that field is irresponsible at best. Look, I have my own issues with the field of composition, and probably because I'm not a specialist in that field, but if we really believe that every student who graduates from college should have a semester or a year of courses in composition, we should probably fund tenure-track lines to support that belief. If we relegate the majority of the teaching of composition to part-timers and grad students, how important is it really? Teaching composition well requires skill and dedication. It requires a fuck of a lot more than the one-semester of grad school I had before I first taught comp, and I'm saying that as a person who actually had a full-semester course in teaching comp before I entered the comp classroom.

Also, I feel like the "online delivery model" vs. face to face is a false dichotomy. Look, I'll be the first person to say that I think teaching online sucks - both for me and for my students - but if you have a dedicated t-t faculty member teaching online vs. an inexperienced grad student or an overtaxed adjunct teaching f2f, I'd say that the online course might actually be superior. Not because the adjunct or grad student was in some way personally inferior, but rather because good teaching happens when you've got resources. Look, I'm a shitty online teacher, and I've got tenure. I'm looking forward to that moment in May when my online teaching duties are done, mainly because I know I've been a bad online teacher. But the fact that I've done it poorly doesn't mean that I don't see the potential for that delivery method. The fact of the matter is, if I had ever had any instruction in teaching online, or if I taught more online courses, I do believe that my online courses would be superior to an adjunct phoning it in (by necessity) or a grad student teaching for the first time.

So, anyway. Enough with that rant. The point is, why shouldn't there be a mandate for English programs to admit only those students that they can fully fund? Why shouldn't we reduce PhDs through that sort of a method? Why shouldn't we say that professors themselves should have heavier teaching loads to support such an initiative?

I realize I'm in weird position, in that I teach 4/4 and I'm saying that. My load won't likely rise, while people on a 2/2 or similar would likely see their loads rise. And we might see a change in curriculum: maybe we wouldn't require those writing courses that are now the norm, and maybe that would mean that all faculty - across disciplines - would be responsible for making sure that their students could write. Maybe there wouldn't be so many TAs to grade, at institutions where people have TAs to grade. Or maybe we'd need to limit enrollments in such a way that more and more Americans couldn't attend college. Maybe a college education isn't something that every American "deserves." The point is, the current state of higher ed funding doesn't support every student going to college, plus college profs having 2/2 loads, plus plus plus. Something's got to give. What's it gonna be?

With all of that being said, and with all of the good reasons that we had for starting our MA program, I'd be in favor of entirely getting rid of it, even though it isn't directed at students who seek an academic career, necessarily. Sure, we serve particular needs in our community, but I hate that some students really believe that they will ever become English professors through pursuing a degree at my institution. I'd rather, in some ways, that we totally got rid of our program, even though it serves so many. Let's note that our enrollments since starting have been through the roof, as entirely stupid as that is.

I believe in the necessity of people doing research in my field. I believe that it is necessary for students to read literature. I believe that the humanities are central to a well-rounded education. But should departments continue to admit people to grad programs when they can't fund them, selling them the lie of the t-t job? No. Should programs continue to support lower teaching loads when their general education courses are being taught by adjuncts and grad students? No.

Either we believe in the humanities (in English, in literature) enough to pay for people to teach them with a reasonable salary and with benefits, or we don't. If we don't, then fine. Then change the general education requirements of every university, and let's just state it outright.

Or let's realize that we probably need to think about the enrollments in our grad programs in light of what the hiring conditions are, whether or not sections of comp or intro to lit have instructors. And let's commit to the fact that adjuncts or grad students shouldn't be teaching the majority of our core courses, even if refusing to hire adjuncts for those courses pisses our institutions off, and even if faculty members are pissed off that they're not teaching only courses in their specializations.

The point is, the current market isn't a "short-term fluctuation." Our responsibility is to respond to it in a way that has long-term gains, both for our discipline and for higher education generally. That may or may not mean more jobs for PhDs. But the point is, we need to wake up and realize that we can't afford to wait for a turn-around.

*Note: it is true that the vast number of grad programs in English does produce people who can (and most likely will) serve as adjuncts. I just don't think that there's a causal relationship between the existence of an adjunct track and the number of programs, at least not a simple causal relationship. The buck stops, in my estimation, with funding, and that's not about the number of grad students admitted in any one program or across programs. This is not to say that I think that so many students should be admitted to or receive degrees from graduate programs in English. It is to say, however, that the adjunct track exists not because of individual departments and programs but because of the way that institutions choose to fund the humanities, and the ways in which institutions regard the humanities in relation to the value of a college degree.


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

and -- for every discipline that should help in teaching students to write, English departments should be strong advocates for class sizes that will facilitate that. For now, the classes in which I would do that have 50 students each -- and, of course no TA or anything like it. Giving meaningful feedback on their papers is impossible with a 5/5 load.

Anastasia said...

Why does MLA = Humanities? I'm not saying the job situation is better in my field. It's just different. The exploitation of adjuncts and the use of unfunded or underfunded grad students to staff intro classes is not nearly as bad in my field as it is in English. This is because institutions almost never have a gen ed intro level course that is required for all undergrads in religion unless said institution is affiliated with some kind of church or denomination. In which case, we're almost never talking huge state university with armies of adjuncts. It's a whole different ballgame and we are also in the humanities.

This isn't directed at you so much as it is directed at IHE. I was just thinking it.

Dr. Crazy said...

IPF - I entirely agree with your position. How exactly can we expect that students can learn how to write in classes *other* than their comp classes when their other classes are all housing 50+ students? Again, my feelings about comp come from my position as a non-comp specialist, but the point is, if we DON'T have reasonable class sizes for classes in the disciplines, then we can't expect that those classes will teach writing in a way that is effective. At the same time, comp can't teach writing in the disciplines, if writing courses are taught by grad students or by adjuncts who aren't qualified in the disciplines that need writing instruction for their fields. Writing across the curriculum is supposed to address this, but the reality at many CCs and regional universities is that there is no REAL writing across the curriculum. There is just pushing off writing off onto faculty who are inadequately compensated for the teaching that they do. I would much rather that we had smaller course caps for classes across disciplines, with the understanding that those courses would all deal with writing. Lots of people would disagree with me, though, on that suggested course of action.

Anastasia: MLA surely does not equal the humanities, but I think that the pronouncements of the MLA are often taken as the representative statement of what the situation is in the humanities (rightly or wrongly). To be fair, though, the only gen ed that is universally required in English is composition, which isn't literature, which isn't what a lot (or even most) of people attend grad school to study and which isn't what people are necessarily best qualified to teach. In other words, the situation in English is perhaps WORSE than the people in religious studies, in that they are enlisted into the adjunct ranks doing something that they didn't even go to school to do. In fact, what they are most qualified to do is not something that is typically required for them to teach in a general education program. This is not to say that people in other disciplines don't have a rough time - it's rather to say that there are a good many people with PhDs in English LITERATURE who are not paid to teach literature on the adjunct track. Rather,, those people teach writing, which ultimately their PhD does not qualify them to teach. In that regard, the situation in English is often unique. Not worse than the situation of people in other disciplines necessarily, other than that they are not teaching in their actual fields.

Earnest English said...

English is such a mess. One of the things that absolutely kills me is the idea that people who specialize in lit are necessarily qualified to teach comp. I'm a comp specialist because when I stepped into the comp classroom, I realized that I really needed more more more research and resources and by the time I got that I was hooked. I'm sorry, friends, but writing a dissertation on nosepicking in C18 British lit (to use the example Sis also uses) does not qualify one to teach writing, academic writing, or even academic writing in the English department (and I would say that the academic writing most often taught in the English department does not prepare our students for writing in other contexts, even across the university).

I understand Feal saying that departments shouldn't shrink their graduate programs at this point -- because typically when the economy is depressed, people go back to school. Not that anyone should necessarily go to grad school in English. One thing that has always surprised and irked me is that we English types are usually the first to be upset when our students say they are in school to get a job -- and we critique the idea of the university as job preparation up and down. But grad programs are almost everywhere discussed as job preparation, even when critiqued as woefully inadequate. What about the possibility of someone getting a PhD and not wanting to be a professor? What about a PhD as an intellectual degree, since we know it's not the ticket to a professorial job? Of course, there are very few people in a PhD program without aspirations to the professoriate, but still. Why do we not think of this at all? Only if we decouple the idea of the PhD and professorial job training (or hazing) can we really responsibly entertain the notion that a PhD program should not be tied to job market fluctuations.

Bardiac said...

What I'd like to know is how did I miss Roxie's World for SO LONG?

This is a really interesting post, thanks. I'm in a similar program to yours in many ways (even down to the grad program), and we rely too heavily on adjuncts. And then we produce more potential adjuncts in our MA program.

When I was in a PhD program (at a public U), it shocked me to realize that almost everyone in my program was from an ivy type school. I was one of four or five (in 28) who'd gone to a public school. I worry that if PhD programs eliminate one quarter of the positions, they'll stop admitting anyone from public programs at all.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I had EXACTLY the same reaction to the portions you highlighted, which was pretty much, STFU.

Of COURSE programs are turning out great professors. I would argue that almost everyone who actually completes a Ph.D. program has the potential to be a decent professor. When search committees narrow their field down to the 10-15 people they'll interview at AHA/MLA? Probably ALL those people would be GREAT professors. Searches have become so competitive not because there aren't enough good candidates, but because there are SO MANY good candidates, schools can be insanely picky. If you cut 75% of people from grad programs, there would still be plenty of amazing professors. Departments just might not get to be quite as insanely picky as they can currently afford to be, but that wouldn't be some kind of decline in academic quality.

Plus, like you say, whatever maintaining these programs does/doesn't mean for "the state of the humanities," it completely SCREWS OVER the 75% of people who will NEVER get a t-t job. I'm not willing for the humanities to "succeed" on the backs of these people. I'm on a listserv for transitioning out of academia and there's been a recent HUGE discussion about the psychological toll of getting a Ph.D. then leaving academia - lots of talk about how it's necessary to grieve the loss and so on. It's ridiculous.

I'm not blaming only departments here - someone one above listserv went to a deans' conference recently and there were deans saying, "Well, we think grad programs need to admit fewer students, but departments resist because they want the TAs." Sure, but they want the TAs partly because universities don't give them enough funding to have enough lines to serve the students without the TAs (especially since departments get rewarded for the research they produce. Whether or not you agree with that priority, you can't fault faculty for knowing that and not leaping up to volunteer to teach and do all the grading for the 300-person gen ed intro class without TAs).

I was totally annoyed by those portions you quote. Am glad to be out of this; law isn't necessarily better, but it doesn't have the same pretensions as academia. (It has its own, of course! :-P)

Shane in Utah said...

A lot to chew on, here...

I also teach in a department that offers an MA but no PhD. Like you, I'd rather teach an upper-division undergraduate class, where the students are generally better readers and writers and more disciplined workers than the grad students I've encountered here. But I would defend the existence of such programs. Most of the students are either seeking career advancement through an advanced degree, or they are making a "lifestyle choice," akin to taking flying lessons or learning piano. I see no problem with students paying full tuition, if that's their outlook.

But with PhD-granting programs, it's a whole different story. What annoyed me about those two quotations is that they seemed very naive (on Garrison's part) and disingenuous (on Feal's) about the economic realities of the profession. Those departments aren't stuffed with doctoral candidates because it adds prestige or legitimacy; they have so many grad students because the departments need warm bodies to staff those sections of first-year writing. And teaching writing in the disciplines will never happen at the big national universities, precisely because you'll never get a trained scientist to teach writing in the sciences for $10k a year...

Sisyphus said...

First of all I must jump in and defend the integrity and yes, even the joys of writing about 18th Century nosepicking! (Hi, EE!)Never let it be said that this is not a worthy topic of research or not contributing to our knowledge about our society and our human natures.

That said, I am a good comp teacher not because of _anything_ I learned in my grad seminars or conferences or my training. As a separate, parallel track of my grad school career I took pedagogy classes, taught writing classes, tutored for the wrt center, at the CC, and the high schools and became a good teacher through my jobs and practice over time. Rather than being useless or incompetent I would say that I and my fellow grad students are so smart and hardworking that we completed *two* sets of higher ed training simultaneously. The sucky thing is that after doing this we end up not getting jobs in *either* training tack, the vast majority of us.

That's what chaps my hide --- I was getting a degree in one thing and saw that it was competitive, so *pretty much on my own time and dime* I added a whole second layer to my degree and all that extra work doesn't help get me a job either!

Oh, and there was a heartbreaking story about UT or some other Texas school a few years back and how it was just a total mess in terms of sucking in grad students and spitting out adjuncts. I'll try to find it.

Susan said...

"the adjunct track exists not because of individual departments and programs but because of the way that institutions choose to fund the humanities, and the ways in which institutions regard the humanities in relation to the value of a college degree."

This is right on target, Dr. C. And NK is totally right about the commands from above about graduate students. We cannot run our university without depending on grad students for teaching. That is now the funding model for a public R1. Since our program is small and not developed, we need to develop it so that we have TAs.

I think there is also a generational thing here. I don't think when I was in grad school everyone expected low teaching loads and lots of money for research and travel. You did research and traveled to conferences on your own dime. You taught your load without always wanting to shrink it. One of the things that has happened (maybe particularly at the publics?) is that the rise of funding in the sciences means that we compare our loads to scientists with grants. So instead of thinking, "Yes, a 2-2 is a very manageable load", people think, "Well, I shouldn't have to teach more than Joe in Physics, who only teaches one course a year."

So we can't think about graduate programs outside of time, any more than we can think about faculty pay or workload outside of time.

Annie Em said...

Thank you, Dr. C., for the post on this rather important topic: it's one that will be the talk of Philly in a week, no doubt.

This is also an ongoing, not entirely new, subject of concern since the number of job listings that the MLA receives each year does keep declining (and I'm thinking there are other reasons besides the shrinking job market: for example, posting job ads at IHE is more common, and more colleges wait until winter to post job openings, for example).

But yes, the number of TT jobs is shrinking. When I applied to grad schools in the late 80s several sent me letters along with the application materials telling me all about the odds of NOT ever finding a tt job).

I went to grad school despite knowing all that (to a public college's PhD program--so like Bardiac, I'm very much aware of how few of us were from public undergrads, and that the ivy league undergrads in my program all received the "big" financial packages....while I "got" the part time job at the local cc). While I DO think the number of students admitted into PhD programs should be limited, I'm very much aware that I may not have been admitted to any grad programs if that were the case 20 years ago....

I also remember being cornered by tenured faculty at that cc who demanded to know why I was so stupidly even considering working on a PhD in a period where jobs were basically non-existent (again, late 80s/early 90s). I was young, cocky, thought I'd be just fine (and was, frankly, willing to move to Timbuktu if needed for a job, so that was always option C).

What I most like about your post, Dr. C., is your modest proposals of requesting that colleges reevaluate why they even require composition courses, and if the answer is still, Yes, we value them, then the reliance on contingent faculty (even those who are experienced, trained, awesome--yet underpaid and sans bennies and any power) to teach such courses is truly, ridiculously, nonsensical. Get rid of the Comp requirement (and at my college, it is going down from 3 required quarter courses to 2 starting next year) OR make it the priority it is by putting significant resources (full time, tt faculty) there.

The head of the Graduate Student Caucus quoted in that article is no different than I was: of course she believes that grad programs should not limit the number of students in their programs because they are, I was, of course, above average, and not going to be part of the 75% who couldn't get a job.

Professor Zero said...

Great post, thanks for saying these things, and I'd like to underline these comments especially:

"the adjunct track exists not because of individual departments and programs but because of the way that institutions choose to fund the humanities, and the ways in which institutions regard the humanities in relation to the value of a college degree."

"This is right on target, Dr. C. And NK is totally right about the commands from above about graduate students. We cannot run our university without depending on grad students for teaching. That is now the funding model for a public R1. Since our program is small and not developed, we need to develop it so that we have TAs."

FrauTech said...

Brilliant Dr. C. But who imposes the limits? I suppose grad programs are still making $$ off of all the "excess" grad students they are admitting or they wouldn't admit them anymore. I agree they shouldn't support more than they would intent to carry on to T-T in a given year, esp. in humanities where T-T is really one of the few options. But still, if they are making a profit who's to stop them? And if they're not making a profit, then why the heck are they behaving as they are?

On composition, back when I started college many years ago, my college required a two course writing program as part of its GEs. I'm not sure what went into choosing the teachers (they tended to not be PhDs yet, but the two I had were very experienced MAs working on their thesis, one in literature and one in history). But the class sizes were small at about 10 people and it was definitely a rigorous composition instruction. My high school composition was pretty solid, but I felt this would have been good for anyone going into a degree that required writing and formulating arguments, even if their high school program had been lacking. I know I learned a lot.

Deborah said...

Thanks for always being a realist, Dr. Crazy. Many grad students, myself included, don’t catch on to the realities of the job market until we’re actively looking for a job. Regarding what you called “selling the lie of the t-t job,” here’s what’s bugging me at the moment:

My program does make an effort to provide support – funding, training, mentoring, etc. – to grad students. I’ve benefited from all of that. At the same time, a kind of idealism is encouraged that I am now finding not very helpful. Three years ago, in a workshop for those of us who had just entered candidacy, I looked over sample CVs from people in our program who had recently gotten t-t jobs. From my perspective back then, they looked impressive, and they were presented to us as models – models as in, “If you do X, Y, and Z and have a CV that looks like this when you go on the market, you’ll get a t-t job, too.”

I admit to having been idealistic myself and somewhat clueless, but I depended on advisors and other people for an accurate picture of how things were. I wasn’t told a “lie” exactly, but what I needed to see then were the “model” CVs of all the equally qualified people who DIDN’T get jobs, who remained adjuncts, who left the profession. Because my CV now looks like the ones I saw back then, and…I just got a letter (no doubt the first of many) informing me that “more than four hundred and fifty” (!!!) people applied for one job – one job at a small state college in the middle of nowhere.

Given the way things are right now, everyone should be encouraged to have a back-up plan. I wish someone had said to me three years ago, maybe in the context of that workshop, “Definitely, work on getting your stuff published and go to lots of conferences, but, now that you’re done with your coursework, consider using your tuition remission for acquiring some other credentials. You know, just in case you don’t land a teaching job.”

PhysioProf said...

You have a motherfucking major conference between Christmas and New Years!?!? What douchecornet came up with that brilliant plan?

Doctor Pion said...

Ah, where to begin?

1) I like your comment about grad -vs- undergrad students. The biggest distinction between top-tier programs in the sciences and the others is whether the grad students are better than the undergrads. Mid-range regional programs send their undergrads to better schools for their graduate education.

2) Make no mistake about it, we have experienced a depression. [Four quarters of negative GDP growth.] Not a "great" one, but any student of history should know there were lots of them like this one in the late 1800s, all triggered by one bubble or another. Unemployment may not top the 10.8% of Reagan's recession in 1983 or the one circa 1975 that was almost as bad nationally (and worse in some regions), but that is only because the government (both Bush and Obama) jumped on it early and with vigor.

This is unprecedented. Now that the need for "jawboning" is over, it might help if more people spoke about it in these terms. There have been worse times to get a degree, but not in my lifetime.

3) I have blogged extensively about jobs in physics with particular attention on the crash in 1970 (when academic employment went from 90% to 5% for those getting a PhD) as well as the current situation. The problem in your field is that you don't have the option of working in aerospace or other industries that value our technical skills, but you share the problem that the faculty have no ZERO nada clue about what non-academic jobs are available and how to penetrate that market through connections with former students who succeeded in it.

4) I have blogged about the economics of higher ed a little bit, enough to know that some assertions here in the comments are naive. The only way that the adjunct rate can drop is if the teaching load of faculty increases and their pay decreases, particularly at major universities. Even in a CC, where salary/student ratios are a tiny fraction of what you find at a university, it is not possible to put full time faculty in every classroom. Just work the numbers, and remember to add at least 40% to the salary to cover minimal fringe benefits.

5) It is not just your field where adjuncts are heavily used. Math is just as bad, and for many of the same reasons.

6) Ever since computers with mail merge software came along, the number of applications sent per applicant has skyrocketed. You need to know how many jobs each of those 400 applied for to get a sense of the glut.

7) You have to look a lot harder to find the t-t CC jobs. We have several in the humanities but we don't advertise in the Chronicle or (afaik) MLA. These days it might only be on our web site and in the local paper.

Dean Dad said...

Dr. C -- I'll just add that it isn't restricted to the humanities. The social sciences have been hit hard, too.

I'd amend the statement about what's valued. It isn't just about the humanities; it's about education that isn't specifically vocational. That includes History of Political Thought as well as 19th Century British Lit or Comp 1.

Flavia said...

Hey, did I miss the MLA meet-up email? Am pretty sure I emailed you directly, some weeks ago.

But am looking forward, in any event!