Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Faculty Have a Branding Problem

…as New Faculty Majority VP Matt Williams reminds us on his blog, Akron Adjunct, no words minced in title, posts or here as reposted from Matt's blog (also listed in the blogroll on the left sidebar). There's a lot more than just posts on The New Faculty Majority blog. After this cautionary tale, we're waiting for the higher education faculty version of A Christmas Carol. Consider CCAC course cutting shenanigans as the trailer. Stay tuned for the next installments.

College faculty in America have a branding problem.  When even the Vice President of the United States disses you publicly, scapegoating you as the reason that college tuition has skyrocketed over the past twenty years…and when the vice president is supposed to be your ally…and when the vice president’s wife is a community college professor (i.e., he should know better)…well…like a Jeff Foxworthy joke…you might have a branding problem.

The rise in the use of contingent faculty on American college and university campuses over the past thirty years is shocking.  We’ve gone from about 30% contingent employment in American higher education nearly 70%.  It has occurred through a continual process of erosion.  Drip, drip, drip…the canyon is carved one drip at a time.  The frog is boiled so slowly that it doesn’t even recognize its predicament before it’s too late.

But there is something that tenured and tenure track faculty in America can do.  They can work to re-balance the equation.  They can insist that any calculations of their compensation include ALL faculty in the denominator.  [The tenured] can voluntarily identify with their lowly contingent colleagues–starting, of course, [with] recognizing that contingent faculty are their peers–and project a picture of the profession that is accurate and complete. Contingent faculty have become the majority faculty in America, and the crisis is not abating, it’s accelerating.

Tenure track faculty have a branding problem, because they are seen as overpaid, privileged, and unaccountable.  But that all changes when you add contingent faculty to the mix.  The question, of course, is whether lumping oneself in with the unwashed masses is too much of a blow to the ego for the privileged few. The reality, of course, is that unless tenured and tenure track faculty find a way to change their image, they may, themselves, discover what its like to beg for scraps.

Faculty Have a Branding Problem by Matt Williams

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