Post Academic

The Tenure Debate, Again: You First. No, You First.

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by postacademic on July 30, 2010
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More or Less Bunk took a page from Bill Maher and set a New Rule: “Any professor who thinks tenure should be scrapped must give up theirs first.”

That rule sure would stop the endless circular debates that never result in anybody doing anything about the number and quality of jobs in academia (or the education provided to students, for that matter). There are a few individuals, though, who are either letting go of tenure or just letting go, period. Consider the following examples:

1. The Self-Described “Worst Professor Ever”: This philosophy PhD got a job and left it. On her way out, she torched her PhD while wearing a Bettie Page wig. Best of all, she shared the photos with the online masses. That’s the best job departure since the one seen in the Dave Chappelle stoner opus Half Baked.

2. The Tenured Prof Who Moved for Love: This professor entered the Hamster World when his girlfriend decided she wanted to get a PhD herself. He said, “It wouldn’t be a story if I were a woman, because thousands of women do this every year.” True, that. But you don’t see professors giving up a tenured job for the Hamster World, either.

3. Leaving Academia and Escape From the Ivory Tower. Okay, no Bettie Page references or romantic undercurrents, but solid advice for anyone wondering what else can be done with a PhD.

The words and actions of just a few people show that tenure may not be the end-all, be-all for the intellectually inclined. Again, I am a Hamster, not an academic, and I am pro-tenure because I don’t want market forces to determine who teaches what when. But skepticism toward institutions is always healthy. Skepticism built more than a few academic careers, didn’t it?

Why Are There So Many Underpaid Adjuncts in Higher Ed?

Megan McArdle’s piece at the Atlantic, which is a response to a piece on the rough lot for adjuncts at Inside Higher Ed asks a good question: If academics are supposedly liberal and pro-labor, why do underpaid adjuncts make up so much of the higher ed workforce?

Here are a few possible answers, plus my evaluation of those answers from the Hamster World perspective:

Tenured faculty members don’t pull their weight when it comes to teaching.
Response: I’m sure there are some tenured faculty who don’t carry their load and give everyone else a bad rap, but those people should be treated as individuals. In the Hamster World, you wouldn’t fire an entire department if it is harboring one slacker. You’d put the slacker on notice and then fire the slacker (or at least give the slacker a hard time since you can’t fire someone with tenure).

That’s what Socialism gets you.
Response: McArdle warned her commenters not to make assumptions and claim the academy made its own bed. First of all, too many people assume that academics are liberals. Anyone who’s been in the academy for any amount of time will tell you that’s not so. The Socialism argument is a crock because the system is obviously broken, and pointing fingers isn’t going to fix it. In this kind of situation, one’s political leanings are irrelevant.

More after the jump! (more…)