9.452 the fate of young scholars

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 12 Jan 1996 19:37:34 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 452.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: RJOHARA@steffi.uncg.edu (38)
Subject: The fate of young scholars

[2] From: Pamela Cohen <pac@rci.rutgers.edu> (42)
Subject: the fate of young scholars


From: RJOHARA@steffi.uncg.edu (38)
Subject: The fate of young scholars

Please excuse the bluntness of what follows, but I can't allow this
recent message to go unchallenged:

>The question is not whether there are more
>properly credentialed people applying for jobs than there
>are jobs to go around--everyone knows that. The real
>question is whether there are enough really good human
>beings to fill the jobs being offered.

This remark is extraordinarily demeaning to the hundreds of young scholars
who have been trying for years to get permanent jobs, who typically spend
much more time with students than do senior faculty, and who often have
published more than existing senior faculty who received tenure when the
competition was not nearly as severe and jobs were more plentiful. It is a
perfect example of why so many junior and part-time faculty hold senior
faculty in low regard as disgraceful stewards of the profession. Perhaps
the question is not whether there are enough really good human beings to
fill the jobs being offered, but whether there are enough really good human
beings among the ranks of the senior faculty running our universities.

Here's one simple way of improving the academic employment situation: cut
senior faculty salaries 25% across the board, and use the money saved to
hire 25% more junior faculty. "But the senior faculty will all leave for
other universities or for the business world!" Fine, let them go; there are
a hundred rising people waiting to fill every one of their positions, and
for less money. Here's another way: eliminate the entire division of
"Student Affairs" (or whatever it may be called locally) at your university
and transfer all that money now used to pay non-academic advisors,
counselors, and the like, to junior faculty salaries with the understanding
that those junior faculty would spend half their time doing the work
formerly done by Student Affairs. Divisions of Student Affairs are
bureaucratic creatures of the 1960s that allowed faculty to divest
themselves of all responsibility for the lives of students on the condition
that non-academic counselors would be paid to do that work for them (see a
recent editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the subject). The
1960s are over and that agreement ought to be cancelled, not only for the
benefit of half a generation of junior and part-time faculty, but also for
the benefit of the undergraduates whose lives have been woefully neglected
by faculty for years at many large universities.


Bob O'Hara (rjohara@iris.uncg.edu)
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 11:05:08 -0500
From: Pamela Cohen <pac@rci.rutgers.edu>
Subject: the fate of young scholars

A bit more grist for this mill, from a young scholar.

Those who, like myself, entered graduate school in a humanities discipline
in 1990 probably remember being complemented on having such good timing. It
seemed that there would be a lot of retirements coming around the time we
would be completing our degrees. We are still waiting for that wave of
retirements. I have seen talented graduates of my department (art history,
Rutgers University) search _aggressively_ for teaching jobs for up to three
years before finding jobs. I have heard that the average number of
applicants for a teaching position in my discipline is about 200/job.

Last year I accepted a one semester teaching position at a small New Jersey
university, so as to have some outside teaching experience on my cv. I was
paid $1300 per course, and a parking permit on campus cost about 10% of
that! Although I was working on a part-time basis, I was told I could not
get a part-time permit; I'd have to pay the same price as full time
employees. In addition to this, their slide collection was poor, so I had to
supplement with my own slides, at my own expense, of course. I don't like
to calculate what my net pay was. I love my discipline, but I am not a
martyr. I decided that once was enough for this kind of treatment. Many
subscribers of this list will remember an NY Times article from a few years
ago which described dedicated young scholars piecing together a meager
income from various part-time appointments, sometimes travelling to opposite
ends of a state in one day, or slaving away at Appalachia U for peanuts.

I did not enter graduate school with the intentions of becoming rich, but I
want the satisfaction of being able to pay my bills with the money I earn.
Somewhere along the line I began to rethink my initial career goals, and I
decided that entering the academy would not be the be all, end all of my
existence. Living in the same city as my husband began to sound like a good
idea. I value my graduate education highly, and I will never be sorry for
having pursued my PhD, regardless of whether or not I "use" it. A graduate
degree has intrinsic value for those who value learning. I don't agree with
Maris Rose that graduate departments should further limit enrollment, but
they _should_ be more upfront with entering students about the job
prospects. I underline Gregory Murphy's suggestion that colleges and
universities develop better resources for educating students about
employment possibilities in the private sector. I was glad to read that
Norm Holland is encouraging students to seek other lines of work, and I
encourage more faculty to do the same. But graduate students should not be
looked upon as disappointments for pursuing alternate careers, as I fear is
often the case. We are not prodigal sons and daughters, or traitors who
have have abandoned ship.

Pamela Cohen
Library Associate, Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
and Doctoral Candidate, Art History, Rutgers University