Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Student Resistance

This started out as a companion post to Teaching Unwaged Workers below, but has also morphed into a response to a post by Tenured Radical about RateMyProfessors (RMP) -- the infamous site that collects anonymous student ratings and comments about faculty. My starting premise is that the current state of student evaluations is simply another symptom of students' unacknowledged status as unwaged workers and, like so many symptoms, it is unlikely to be cured without addressing the underlying pathology. But to get from here to there, let me start with some of the issues raised by Tenured Radical.

One of Tenured Radical's chief concerns about RMP is the fact that just anyone can write and post a review of a professor, even folks who aren't students.

what this means is that anyone can register as anyone and leave an evaluation -- for anyone -- that says anything. That's right. You could do it from prison if you had internet privileges, or from Afghanistan, if you were just farting around in between avoiding the Taliban.
Now, I have enough worries in my life without the added concern that anti-Taliban refugees might be gaming my student evaluations. For this to rise to the level of an actual concern for me, I would need some evidence that these sorts of abuses are actually having a real impact on the site.

This is from last week's Inside Higher Ed:
Last year, a scholarly study found a high correlation between and a university’s own system of student evaluations. Now, a new study is finding a high correlation between RateMyProfessors and a student evaluation system used nationally. ... The similarities were such that, the journal article says, they offer “preliminary support for the validity of the evaluations on”
This certainly matches my own anecdotal evidence. The comments I get online at RateMyProfessors are very similar to the ones I get in my more traditional student evaluations. And that seems to be true for many of my colleagues as well. If you think that student evaluations have a part to play in teaching assessment, then RMP may be as useful as any other survey instrument we have, even given the absence of any specific sampling controls.

However, further down in the article comes this interesting observation:
For his part, Sonntag [one of the authors of the study] acknowledged that some reviews are “so mean-spirited” that they aren't worth anyone’s time. But he said that if you cast those aside, there are valuable lessons to be learned.
This, I think, is really the point Tenured Radical objects to. It's that the comments on RMP can be so mean-spirited -- coupled with the fact that they are so very public. But why does this vitriol creep into our student evaluations? Where does it come from?

We like to imagine that we are reviewed by students in much the way we review books in our own fields. What matters is the content and ideas, with perhaps some occasional remarks on the style and presentation. But we would never comment on the way an author dressed, or if we thought they were "hot." We are not literature though. We aren't even pulp fiction. And the reviews we receive from our students are not reviews of our self-worth as human beings in any case even though we often tend to experience them that way.

Instead, we are reviewed more like bosses. And our teaching evaluations read much more like the reviews we write about our own Department Chairs and Deans than the reviews we write about scholarly books in our field. What this should point out to us, is that our relationship with our students is not simply one of teacher to student but that it is also colored by the relationship of boss to worker -- and boss to very poorly paid worker at that. Given this, I think it speaks well for our profession that we aren't more universally loathed by our students. That students resist the conditions of their work is unsurprising. That they find avenues to share their experiences with each other online on sites like RMP is also unsurprising. But if we are truly serious about addressing this particular symptom of student dissatisfaction, then we need to take a serious look at the material conditions of our students' lives in the academy that cause them to react like overworked and underpaid employees.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grad Student Snark

This is hilarious. Even with the drama it's causing the poor English TA's at Iowa State.

The videos feature real Iowa State TA’s — all in good academic standing — in a pseudo-interview format answering various questions. The answers are frequently silly. Asked if “attendance has been a problem,” one TA answers, “I’ve had a really hard time showing up.” ... Asked about his greatest challenges as a TA, one answers that it is “trying not to headbutt or maim” his students.
It's just as well that YouTube wasn't around when I was serving my time in the grad student office ghetto -- some things are probably best not immortalized on video. I do hope the English Department at Iowa State gets over its very temporary embarrassment soon. If they want to look better, they can always put some time and money into making their TA's working conditions better. Or they can just try to make sure no one makes any jokes. It's a toss up.

There's more about the video and its stir in the campus newspaper.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Teaching Unwaged Workers

I've written often about academic labor issues such as the plight of adjuncts, the politics of tenure, or the effects of the academic division of labor. However, there is one group of academic workers that I've rarely written about even though their wages lag far behind even the worst paid adjunct or dining hall employee and even though they outnumber faculty, staff, and administrators combined. These most exploited of academic workers are typically unwaged, and in most cases even pay exorbitant fees for the privilege of laboring. This mass of hyper-exploited workers are commonly known as "students."

Some may hesitate at categorizing students among academic workers, but their behavior gives them away. They act like workers. That is, they resist the imposition of work and resist their low wages. Professors know this since we tend to be the students' immediate supervisors. We are the ones who impose the work, and we are also the ones that experience their resistance firsthand. Every time a student pleads for an extension on a paper, comes late to class, or doesn't finish the assigned reading, they are engaging in an effort to slow down the academic assembly line. Every time a student argues that their paper deserved better than a C-, complains about tuition and student fees, or sells back a textbook before the end of the semester, they are resisting their status as the lowest of low-wage workers.

These observations are occasioned by two recent posts from Historiann and Ortho on "the incentivized university" and "education as a waste product." In a wonderful rant against short-sighted bookstore policies, Historiann writes:

Yes, that’s a great plan: sell your books before you study for the final exam or write your final papers. The incentive for students is to slight their grades and learning in favor of the chance for a few dollars per book. (Is it too much to ask that book buyback schemes start only during finals week?) ... Naively, Historiann had supposed that college students buy books because they’re sort of interested in the ideas inside them, not for their possible resale value. Does anyone else think it’s strange that students would want to try to scrub their bookshelves (and brains?) entirely of course content?
Faculty will sympathize. We tend to want our students to develop a love of learning that makes parting with books, even overpriced textbooks, a melancholy task -- not something students look forward to like an early tax refund. And yet, as Ortho responds:
Historiann’s students are not acting foolishly or illogically when they rush to sell their books back. They are buying into the University. They are saying yes, we agree: "Education is the waste product of this experience." Her students may not realize that saying yes is a subversive, transformative act that shall destroy the University. By buying into the system, her students shall destroy the system.
Although I agree that these student actions constitute a kind of resistance, I don't quite share Ortho's apparent optimism for this particular strategy. Students are behaving like poorly paid workers. They want payday to get here as soon as possible. This is understandable. But like our ongoing enthusiasm for the low prices at Wal-mart, this quest for the best buy in higher education is ultimately a self-defeating strategy. Just as Wal-mart provides us with bargain-basement consumer goods only at the expense of the workers who make those goods, so students' search for the best buy in higher education make themselves into inadvertent advocates for ever cheaper and shoddier education practices.

If you want better students who are focused on learning, and eager to read, write and study, then pay them. Right now, every cut in student aid and every increase in tuition, fees, parking, textbooks, housing, and food creates a cadre of students who can only afford to look at the bottom line and will approach higher education with the same eye towards cost savings they use in a trip to Wal-mart. The result will only be the predictable next cycle of budget cuts and increased class sizes, and students who must become harder workers and smarter shoppers still.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Starbucks Morality

Here's a nice article from Inside Higher Ed about adjuncts at Marquette University:

... there was something wrong — morally — with tenured professors not speaking out about the conditions facing adjuncts who make their research possible by covering so many classes.

He said that a majority of introductory theology courses are taught by adjuncts — typically Ph.D.’s who have been unable to find a tenure track job. They are paid about $3,200 a course, he said, but receive no health insurance. Because they must scramble to find enough courses to teach — at Marquette and elsewhere — they have no job security and thus no academic freedom, Maguire said.

In addition to citing Biblical teaching on obligations to the less fortunate, Maguire cited the practices of well known corporations. “Even corporations like Starbucks (not the expected moral prophets or beacons of justice in our society) provide health care benefits for their full-time as well as their part-time workers,” he wrote in his memo to his colleagues. “Here is the question for this university with its avowed religious commitments: Can we rise to the moral standards of Starbucks?"
I don't hold out much hope of moral arguments winning the day on this issue. I think it will take an organized faculty taking collective action on many fronts, including, wages, hours, benefits, accreditation, and unionizing.

But at a Jesuit school, a good moral argument shouldn't hurt.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Cog's Eye View

Academic Cog has a very interesting post on contingent academic labor from the vantage point of a TA working under an adjunct lecturer. Academic Cog writes:

... huge numbers of classes are being taught by people who know they are here only temporarily and who already have an eye on the future and one foot out the door, frantically scrambling to grab a permanent position. Because the adjunct positions are there permanently, only with different individuals cycled in and out of them, what the university ends up with is instructors who are permanently job seeking and distracted. If you put 30 hours a week on an intensive and draining job search, how much time are you going to put in additionally to a job that pays you crap wages? How will that time break down per student given the class sizes?

In short, why invest any more time or effort or collegiality or service into a university that is investing practically nothing in you?
This is yet another face of the current reliance on contingent faculty to teach an ever increasing share of college classes. There are very good reasons to limit the number of years a university can exploit a particular adjunct at starvation wages (and to my mind the fewer years the better -- zero would be ideal). But as Academic Cog notes, the adjunct positions themselves are there permanently. This means that there is revolving door of new faces occupying these underpaid and overworked positions. The result of this is that the institution is buying faculty who cannot afford to invest the time and effort into their teaching that everyone involved -- students, administrators, TA's, other faculty, and not least the adjunct faculty member him or herself -- wishes to be able to devote to teaching.

This is why the question of adjuncts and accreditation begins to loom so large. Adjunct use creates structural limitations on the quality of instruction -- through no fault of the hard working adjunct faculty themselves. Unlike Confessions of a Community College Dean (CCCD), I think linking university accreditation with limits on the use of contingent labor is exactly the right place to apply pressure. Universities cannot be expected to resist the lure of cheap contingent faculty labor without some equally powerful disincentive. Accreditation provides universities with a materially relevant reason to limit their use of adjunct faculty. Moral arguments alone against this exploitation are always doomed to fail when confronted with the realities of a limited budget.

CCCD is rightly concerned, though, that externally imposed limits on the number of adjuncts allowed will simply encourage institutions to game the system and may even force some institutions to increase their use of adjuncts up to the legal limit. This is why I think it will still be necessary to eliminate the existing wage differentials between contingent and tenure-track faculty. As long as adjuncts can be hired on the cheap and without benefits, institutions will continue to exploit them. In fact, the fiduciary responsibilities of an institution's administrators will virtually demand it. Therefore, a twin-pronged strategy focusing on linking accreditation with minimizing adjunct use, coupled with raising adjunct salaries seems necessary.

As to CCCD's other concern about the relevance of limiting adjunct use to the goals of accreditation itself, there is Marc Bousquet's recent article in Inside Higher Ed. CCCD writes:
More to the point, what is the point of accreditation? I've always understood it as a way of assuring prospective students that the institution is what it says it is, rather than some fly-by-night operation. To the extent that it's really about the students, I'm not entirely sure what a magic cutoff number for adjuncts has to do with it.
As Marc Bousquet writes:
First-year students are more likely to persist to their sophomore year when high-stakes “gate-keeper” courses are taught by permanent faculty, and campus unions generate significantly greater undergraduate experience of tenure-stream faculty, observe two studies just released at the annual convention of the American Education Research Association.
This can be coupled with other findings that show that:
A national analysis of graduation and program completion rates at community colleges has found that institutions with higher percentages of full-time faculty members have higher completion rates.
And student retention and persistence to graduation are certainly legitimate and appropriate concerns for accreditation.

Or you can simply look again at the situation faced by Academic Cog who, as the TA for an overworked and underpaid adjunct, sees firsthand the ways students get short-changed by these working conditions:
You know what they call the TA who makes up for this situation by putting in extra time and effort to actually teach the students something about writing and critical thinking and writes lots of insightful, constructive comments on drafts and essays?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Listen to Tim

You can listen to Tim Robbins' address to the National Association of Broadcasters, expletives undeleted. Here's how it begins:

I'd like to start with an apology to Rush and Sean and Bill and Savage and Laura whatshername. A few years ago they told America that because I had different opinions on the wisdom of going to war that I was a traitor ... I was a naive dupe of left-wing appeasement. And how right they were.

If I had known then what I know now, if I had seen the festive and appreciative faces on the streets of Baghdad today, if I had known then what a robust economy we would be in, the unity of our people, the wildfire of democracy that has spread across the Mid-East, I would never have said those traitorous, unfounded and irresponsible things.

I stand chastened in the face of the wisdom of the talk-radio geniuses, and I apologize for standing in the way of freedom.
But the really good stuff comes when he skewers the broadcast industry itself:
In the 80s and 90s, the FCC under pressure from the Reagan and Clinton administrations changed the rules limiting the number of radio and television stations a business entity could own, paving the way for large entertainment corporations to buy up local stations and put them under the umbrella of the larger corporations. Again the community benefited. Because of these conglomerates innovative approach, listeners no longer had to be subjected to perplexing controversial subjects, or confused varied opinion, or alternative rock.

Conspiracy To Commit

This is from Dan Froomkin on his Washington Post Blog:

President Bush says he was aware that his top aides met in the White House basement to micromanage the application of waterboarding and other widely-condemned interrogation techniques. And he says it was no big deal.

"I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved," Bush told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on Friday. "I don't know what's new about that; I'm not so sure what's so startling about that." ...

If you consider what the government did to be torture, which is a crime according to U.S. and international law, Bush's statement shifts his role from being an accessory after the fact to being part of a conspiracy to commit. ...

From an ACLU press release on Saturday: "The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations by the Bush administration of laws including the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws.

And here is Barack Obama on what he will do about these crimes:
What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can't prejudge that because we don't have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve.

So this is an area where I would want to exercise judgment -- I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General -- having pursued, having looked at what's out there right now -- are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it's important -- one of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I've said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law -- and I think that's roughly how I would look at it.
Obama may be our best hope to bring these criminals to justice. It's a very long way from here to there, but so far Obama has at least shown his willingness to discuss the right thing to do, and not simply the politically expedient thing. Let's hope this one gets done right.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Musical Archaeology

A Date With John Waters is my new favorite CD. Here's the man himself reading the liner notes from this gender and genre bending compilation of twisted love songs:

Leave it to John Waters to unearth a 1935 Swing Band BDSM song, Mildred Bailey's "I'd Love to Take Orders From You."

If you're the captain, I'll be the crew,
'Cause I'd just love to take orders from you;
You blow the bugle and I'll jump through,
Oh, how I'd love to take orders from you.
I know that rules were made for fools,
That's one thing I have learned;
But I'm going in for discipline
Wherever you're concerned.
If you say, "Kiss me!" that's what I'll do,
'Cause I'd just love to take orders from you.
The rest of the album is equally twisted, just like John Waters. I like it a lot.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Academic Taylorism

There's a very interesting post over on Larval Subjects about the academic assembly line:

These days, one of the more frustrating and tedious aspects of working in an institutional setting such as a secondary school, a college, or a highschool has been the shift to constant mechanisms of “quality control” that are implemented from year to year, semester to semester. What I have in mind are the constant calls to codify things such as student learning outcomes, assessment criteria, and curriculum across the body of educators. These mechanisms, in turn, lead to endless meetings, professional development seminars, and piles of paperwork that often have little or no connection to teaching or what really takes place in the classroom.
This post reminded me off another article on Deconstructing Faculty Work that highlighted the ways in which faculty work has become fragmented and subdivided in some damaging ways. It has now become commonplace for faculty to characterize themselves in their annual reports by how much of their time is spent on the various institutional components of teaching, research, and service.
We constructed the artifact of faculty assignment; a quantity set at 100 percent, and then partitioned that assignment into sections assigned to teaching, research, service, and other duties. Although most institutions do not explicitly quantify these assignments, the work recorded in our faculty annual reports make clear that we parcel out our actual effort into categories defined by what we do for teaching, for research, and for service. Our administrative work became defined by the released teaching effort traded for the administrative effort, further subdividing our faculty work. ... We designed accountability systems to measure the cost of teaching as an item separate from research so that we could calculate the return on the investment in teaching separately from the return on investment in research. ... These became the measurable quantities for effective optimization and management in our increasingly accountable world.
I myself am a 50% teaching, 25% research, and 25% service employee this year. My job is structured such that my full-time teaching load of 4 courses per semester is subject to reassigned time for various other duties, typically including one course a semester reassigned time for research (if I continue to publish well) and sometimes release time for other administrative chores. It has ceased to strike us as strange that we should be subdivided in these ways and to think of our work lives as the assemblage of discrete tasks, rather than as the life's work of a single person.

This subdividing of tenured and tenure-track faculty also tends to facilitate and justify the use of contingent faculty. It is the logical extension of a system organized around the outcomes of specific, and seemingly unrelated tasks.
For the institutions, however, the deconstruction of faculty work offered a great incentive to reduce their commitment to an inflexible work force of tenured faculty and increase their investment in short-term, highly efficient faculty dedicated to specific purposes for specific periods of time and whose productivity and performance could be reliably maintained.
If the teaching me, the research me, and the administrative me cannot actually exist separately and independently of one another, then it makes a certain administrative sense to seek specialized workers whose functions can actually be compartmentalized in exactly this way. Of course, I actually only do any of these jobs well because I do all of these jobs. But that complexity makes faculty assessment and management much more difficult. The pernicious fantasy of the fungibility of faculty work is only perpetuated by the current ways in which we evaluate faculty.

Virtual Whiteboard

By way of academhack, here's a new web-based virtual whiteboard called Twiddla.

Twiddla is a virtual whiteboard. I have been waiting for this to be done right, as it is an extremely useful tool, and not everyone has Mac OS 10.5 which allows easy screen sharing. Twiddla is extremely easy, as they say “no plugins, no downloads, or firewall vodoo.” (Firewall Vodoo? Haven’t heard that before, but think I will now use it regularly as a catch-all phrase.)
Give it a try. I can almost see myself using this in class with the digital projector. I've never really bonded to the smartboard interface that enables all the drawing tools. And using Twiddla would just be pulling up another web page. It allows you to have multiple users, or an entire class, collaborate using it. Very cool.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rumor Has It

I have been told a very excellent rumor. And I have a blog. So I will do what comes naturally.

I have it on high authority from low sources, that Led Zeppelin will in fact be be playing at Bonnaroo this summer. Trust me. Professional philosophers know these sorts of things.

Since this is just another round for a rumor that has been bouncing around the inter-tubes at least since December, I don't really expect anyone to take the word of an obscure academic blogger seriously.

I'll try to remember to come back to this and fact-check my first attempt at rumor-mongering later this summer. We'll see how well I did...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lumpen Haiku

The Doctor Isn't
finds a blog haiku machine
curious and strange

Haiku2 for lumpenprofessoriat
predations there are
certainly problems with work
in academia
Created by Grahame

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

No Redeeming Social Value

... but I think I was at this show back in '86.

I actually first heard Dino Lee much earlier with Los Whirlybirds, and since that time he's been one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. He is also one of the last folks on earth I would have pegged for a reunion concert.

He's Got Soul?

Unemployed Negativity has a post reviewing the film Southland Tales. I don't know anything about this movie, but this bizarre clip of Justin Timberlake singing The Killers' "I Got Soul, But I'm Not a Soldier" (All These Things That I've Done) has me intrigued.

Plus, evidently there's also a dance number with Sarah Michelle Gellar and the Rock. Very odd. I may need to rent this one.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Signs of Life

I find this news very encouraging:

Boston University students have won what one lawyer hailed as a "David and Goliath" victory after challenging one of the recording industry's most aggressive tactics: lawsuits targeting people who illegally download music.

US District Judge Nancy Gertner ruled this week that the university cannot turn over the names of students to several major record companies that sued for the information until she can do a more in-depth review. The ruling, for the moment, quashes the companies' efforts to hold the students liable for copyright infringement, which could have resulted in thousands of dollars in fines. Lawyers who supported the students said the decision would make it harder for record companies to win some 20,000 similar cases they have brought nationwide.

"This is definitely a step in the right direction," said Raymond Sayeg, a Boston lawyer who represented one of the four BU students who challenged the record companies. "The court has recognized the right of privacy of the students."

I have been appalled at how eager most universities have been to rat out their students to the RIAA. A university should have been fighting this battle on behalf of their students, but I'm glad to see at least someone is fighting.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


There's post about a very interesting, and very ambitious, student Wikipedia assignment over on Posthegemony. The project involves students writing and editing articles for Wikipedia from their semester's work with the aim of getting their articles to "featured article" status. Posthegemony writes:

I decided to include wikipedia as a central part of a course I was teaching in the belief that it was only by actively contributing to the encyclopedia that students would learn about its weaknesses, as well as its strengths. ...

the assignment was that, in groups, the students should edit (and in a couple of cases create) wikipedia articles on the texts and authors that we were covering, and that over the course of the semester they should bring these articles up to what in wikipedia parlance is called "featured article" status.

When setting that assignment, I had not really comprehended how ambitious it was. Wikipedia defines a "featured article" as an article that "exemplifies [its] very best work and features professional standards of writing and presentation." And its standards are, in fact, impressively high. Indeed, it is a central paradox of wikipedia that its standards are impeccable, even as its actual performance so often lags far behind these standards. To give some indication: fewer than 0.1% of wikipedia's articles are featured articles. ...

I liked the idea that students would be engaging in a real world project, with tangible and public, if not necessarily permanent, effects. In the end, an essay or an exam is an instance of busywork: usually written in haste; for one particular reader, the professor; and thereafter discarded. ...

I declared from the outset that a group that turned its article into a "featured article" would receive an A+, no questions asked; and that groups that achieved "good article" status (a lower hurdle, though good articles still account for only about 0.15% of wikipedia's total) would receive an A. The assignment grade, in other words, would be determined by collective, public, peer review. ...

As of April 1, 2008, with still a couple of weeks of the class to run, they have now brought four articles up to this standard: The President (novel), The General in His Labyrinth, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Gabriel García Márquez. ... I can't tell you how proud I am of these students.
I think this is a wonderful, and wonderfully useful, course project. I've been guiding students through the process of writing a large wikipedia article this year. Next year, I may consider having the next class aim at improving the article to "featured status."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Raising the Bar

And lest we think concern about ever escalating tenure standards is overblown, here is an article from today's Inside Higher Ed:

When assistant professors talk about the ever more stringent standards for winning tenure, one of the favorite metaphors is of colleges “raising the bar.” At Baylor University, assistant professors who came up for tenure this year believe that not only did they face a higher hurdle, but they were forced to jump while blindfolded.

That’s because, several university officials said, senior administrators have come to believe that departmental standards were not rigorous enough and so applied new standards, which have never been shared with faculty leaders, let alone with those who submitted tenure portfolios under the old standards. Largely as a result, tenure denials at Baylor this year — which have been about 10 percent annually in recent years — shot up to 40 percent.

Twelve of the candidates were denied tenure this year, and while some are always denied, two statistics are raising particular concern at the university:

  • Nine of the 12 rejected candidates had the support of both their departments and the universitywide faculty committee that reviews candidates after the departmental evaluation. In the past at Baylor, it has been rare for the president to overturn recommendations that had solid backing at all the levels of faculty review.
  • The rejection rate was particularly high for women. Of the nine women up for review, six were rejected.

Matt Cordon, chair of the Faculty Senate and a law professor, said that this year’s tenure cases raise significant issues on both fairness and the faculty role in shared governance. “The administration determined that the departments’ standards weren’t enough, but the departments used them, and the tenure candidates used the standards,” he said, adding the no one knew of the new standards until deans reported being told of the change by the president and provost.

My own tenure experience had a similar thrill injected into it when our new administration took up the torch of raising standards and unilaterally created new standards for tenure.

In my case, because I had already spent a dozen years teaching and publishing, I was able to meet these new, surprise, tenure standards imposed from above without much additional worry. Others were not so fortunate. Sadly, those of us who could jump over this higher bar have been used as evidence that the new standards are both possible and fair.

What always gets left out of these discussions is how many years of work it actually took to meet those standards. Very few of us had been brand new Ph.D.'s only six years ago.

Custom Time

I need this.

"The entire concept of 'late' no longer exists for me. That's pretty cool. Thanks Gmail!"