3.516 the PhD gap (51)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 29 Sep 89 20:07:00 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 516. Friday, 29 Sep 1989.

Date: Fri, 29 Sep 89 11:02:00 EDT

Some more on the great Ph.D. shortage. On the Op-Ed page of
the NY Times Thursday, September 28, Lynne V. Cheney (the bete
noire of the MLA) has a piece called "The Phantom Ph.D. Gap" in
which she replies to the prediction that there will be a faculty
shortage in humanities and social sciences. She finds the notion
of a shortage ridiculous. She suggest all those "39,000 holders
of doctorates who are working outside the academy as well as
thousands more who now work at colleges and universities part-
time" will be eager for the openings. This argument, to my mind,
is itself foolish. It assumes that those Ph.D.s who have found
employment outside academe and have gotten solid salaries and
seniority will be happy to return to the status of untenured
beginners at beginning salaries, and that the universities and
colleges will give up their demands for publication by employing
individuals who have for the most part been occupying themselves
and honing their skills elsewhere.
But her major suggestion is to reintroduce the three-course
load. Remember that famous time of the so-called "three-course
load." I remember it well from the 50s. The so-called "three-
course load" was in fact five courses. The lovely "two-course
load" of myself and my colleagues now is in fact usually three,
when you throw in the tutorials and other little fringes that
colleges and universities demand. And she concludes with the
notion that all us folks really would prefer to teach and do no
research. I only know that at different points in one's career
one does different things, but that those "good" teachers I have
known who never did anything else, soon began to give the same
lectures now dull with repetition and use the same tired lesson
plans that I so despised in some of my undergraduate classics
teachers (at Columbia no less!).
I hope some of you get a chance to read Cheney's piece and
send along your comments.
James W. Halporn, Classics/Comparative Literature
Indiana University, Bloomington

p.s. Cheney is Chairman of the National Endowment for the