faculty

Qualification: Ph.D. Compensation: $15/Hour

Fifteen dollars per hour is the new target minimum wage among many labor activists, and North Carolina just became the first state to introduce a $15 minimum wage for state workers. But shouldn’t Ph.D.s earn more than that? That’s what many on Twitter said this week, not so politely, after the Social Science Research Network posted an ad for a part-time, work-from-home job reviewing and classifying article abstracts for online journals about transportation. Qualifications include experience in transportation, with a Ph.D. “strongly preferred.” Compensation is $15 per hour.

In response to online criticism about how a doctorate is worth more than the target minimum wage, SSRN tweeted, “This role is part time and extremely flexible for early/late career researchers already reading SSRN content in their homes or anywhere else in the world. Plus it includes significant other benefits.” That response didn’t quite cut it for some, who continued to criticize SSRN, while others commented on what they described as the sad state of academic labor.

Ad keywords: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

George Mason Student Group Loses Open-Records Suit

A Virginia circuit court on Thursday ruled against a George Mason University student group seeking access to donor agreements between a university foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation. The student group, Transparent GMU, argued that agreements between the private GMU Foundation and donors should be subject to the same open-records laws as the public university itself, since it is working for George Mason’s benefit.

Judge John M. Tran wrote in his decision on behalf of the court that the GMU Foundation does not meet the legal definition of a public body, in that it is not an entity wholly or principally supported by public funds, or an entity created to perform a government function or advise the public. To treat the fund-raising foundation as a public entity requires an examination and reformulation of public policy, and that is the purview of lawmakers, not the courts, he said.

The university was previously dismissed from the lawsuit. Gus Thomson, a Transparent GMU spokesperson, expressed disappointment in the decision in a statement, saying, “We believe the public has a right to know the details of our university’s operations, including its relationship with private donors.”

The university in April released other gift agreements from 2003 to 2011 between the Koch Foundation and the campus’s Mercatus Center that, in the words of current George Mason president Angel Cabrera, “raise questions concerning donor influence in academic matters.” Transparent GMU cited those agreements in its statement, saying it plans to appeal the decision to Virginia Supreme Court.

Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

A poem by Laurence Musgrove (opinion)

On the fifth day
Of the meditation retreat
And only the second day
Of Vipassana training,
I found myself weeping
How much I missed my teachers. 
“A thirst for learning
Brings tears of insight,”
The Buddha told me.
“Now think of those
Who never find these tears,
Who never benefit from
The loving-kindness of teachers,
Who never learn the path
Out of their suffering.
Let us weep for them together.

May they hear and find us.”

Laurence Musgrove

Laurence Musgrove is professor and chair of English and modern languages at Angelo State University. His collection of poetry, Local Bird, and a forthcoming collection of aphorisms, One Kind of Recording, are from Lamar University Literary Press.

Image Source: 
Istockphoto.com/LynneAlbright
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Purdue Will Not Punish Professor Who Shared Blackface Throwback Photo

Purdue University will not punish a faculty member who posted a photo of herself on Facebook in blackface, NewsOne reported. The university told the website that it received an anonymous complaint in November about a professor who in 2016 posted a childhood Halloween picture of herself in 1974, and that “her personal social media post of an old photo was not harassment under Purdue policy.” In “any event, what we can say firmly is that, at Purdue, we do not punish speech, particularly when off-campus speech is expressed by an employee speaking as a private citizen,” the university said in its statement. The photo shows two girls wearing black paint, black clothing and bones in their hair.

The professor, Lisa Stillman, an instructional coordinator in the department of biological sciences, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the photo. Several hundred people have signed an online petition criticizing Purdue for its response to the complaint and demanding that Stillman resign. “Rather than letting Lisa Stillman go, Purdue still provides taxpayer dollars to a staff member that is not equipped to work with students of all backgrounds,” the document reads. “Sign this petition to stand up to racial injustice and to create a safe space at universities where all students can be treated with the respect they deserve.”

Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

An academic describes the benefits of bringing children on a sabbatical abroad (opinion)

While you will undoubtedly face challenges, you'll also reap important rewards, writes Yasmine Kalkstein.

Job Tags: 
Ad keywords: 
Editorial Tags: 
Show on Jobs site: 
Image Source: 
Istockphoto.com/lokfung
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 

Competitions push researchers to hone real-life solutions

For academic researchers, seed funding competitions open opportunities that were once the province of young app developers and M.B.A.s.

The importance of not overlooking A students in the classroom (opinion)

Teaching Today

Waving through our strongest students with some minimal comments does a disservice to them, to us as pedagogues and, ultimately, to the future of our profession itself, argues Adam Kotsko.

Job Tags: 
Ad keywords: 
Editorial Tags: 
Show on Jobs site: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 

A professor questions the current approaches to assessment (opinion)

I have questions for people who actually believe in assessment. You know who I’m talking about: administrators, accreditors and federal officials who insist that we generate reports that analyze -- sorry, assess -- whether students are meeting lists of “learning goals.” The assessophiles need those reports so they can verify that we -- the apparently untrustworthy faculty -- are spending our time on things that are educationally valuable. Because wouldn’t it be terrible if we were spending our time on tedious exercises disconnected from teaching and learning?

Here’s what I’d like to ask those people.

First, do you think that the question “Does this test or assignment get at what it really means to learn this subject?” can be reduced to a rubric that was written to satisfy outsiders and their regulatory imperatives? Do you think that this question can be substantively answered via your report-generating processes?

Also, when you’re evaluating rubrics and learning goals for programs outside your field, and it’s 2 a.m. and your report is due soon, are you really paying attention to anything besides the presence or absence of “action verbs”? Be honest. Are you truly interested in assessing the students’ learning of my subject, or are you really just checking my competency in the use of those verbs? If my mastery of parts of speech is all that you care about, can’t you just peruse my publications? Or should I also dig up my GRE verbal score from 20 years ago?

Do you think that faculty members who eschew your exercises don’t pay attention to how students perform when we try new things? Yes, we all know someone who drones on for an hour thrice weekly, never sees students in office hours and gives only multiple-choice tests. But are all the rest of us similarly suspect? And if an honest assessment effort demonstrated that students weren’t learning anything from Professor Droning On, what concrete steps would you actually be prepared to take?

Do you really think we don’t make changes in response to what we observe in the classroom and to how our students perform? Do you think we don’t talk to colleagues about what we’ve observed or share ideas for improvement?

If you acknowledge such introspective activities and collegial discussions as positive aspects of academic culture, do you have suggestions for turning them into reports that would satisfy you? Could we do so without making it tedious and unsatisfying for people who pursued this modestly compensated career for the love of the subject and the joy of sharing it?

Speaking of modest compensation, how much of a stipend will you pay the poor sucker who agrees to produce the reports that you claim to want? Any bonus if the reports are actually meaningful?

Besides, what if we, in fact, found evidence that freshmen aren’t learning the foundations that they’ll need to truly understand the more advanced material? Would you want us to grade accordingly? What if we were to write a report showing that seniors nearing graduation have disturbing gaps in their knowledge? Would you want us to withhold the passing grades that they need in order to receive their diplomas? Or would you want us to bury this embarrassing information in some report that nobody will actually read?

Are your answers to the last few questions in any way influenced by the state legislature’s concerns about graduation rates?

Oh, I see; you want us to improve classes so that students do learn. Great! Will you give us the budgets needed for offering smaller classes? For reconfiguring lecture halls into active learning centers with round tables for small-group discussions, and other “best practices” that you heard about in a TED talk? Would you fund more assistants to help us teach -- I mean, facilitate -- those discussions?

Ah, you heard about this one guy who managed to transform, flip and disrupt his class, or whatever the current jargon is. Well, this one guy just happens to teach one course per semester, and most of his publications are about best practices for the same class that he gives TED talks about. Can we have 1-1 teaching loads like him?

Speaking of job descriptions, can assistant professors stop publishing in whatever specialty they were hired for and start publishing on pedagogy like the TED talker does? Will they still get tenure?

If we want to try something new that we heard about at that workshop that you sponsored (in the overly air-conditioned conference room with the broken coffee machine), can we just do it, or will you still want course revisions to go through umpteen layers of curriculum committees?

Oh, and we tried to do the paperwork for a course revision, but it turns out that nobody’s actually handled the learning outcomes documents for that course since the Bush administration. (Don’t ask which one.) Do you know where those files might be?

Finally, have you done an assessment of assessment? Do students learn more when faculty members perform these rituals? Do frequent assessment activities via administratively sanctioned rubrics lead to better learning than faculty members who experiment on a regular basis, bringing a variety of approaches in accordance with their variety of specialties and perspectives?

And do assessment budgets correlate with how much students learn? With how much they earn? With how well they’re prepared for productive work, the life of the mind and active citizenship? Do graduate and professional schools find that students are better prepared if their undergraduate institutions devoted substantial resources to formal assessment processes?

Why don’t you write a report on that and get back to me?

Alex Small is a professor of physics at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He likes asking uncomfortable questions. For some reason he doesn’t get invited to a lot of parties.

Image Source: 
Istockphoto.com/erhui1979
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Tip for effective informational interviews (opinion)

Category: 

Many students are unclear how to conduct such conversations and are potentially sabotaging future career prospects, writes Thomas Magaldi.

Job Tags: 
Ad keywords: 
Topic: 
Editorial Tags: 
Show on Jobs site: 
Image Source: 
Istockphoto.com/Julief514
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
4
Advice Newsletter publication date: 
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Email Teaser: 
3 Informational Interview Mistakes

Professor Arrested for Allegedly Stalking Student

An assistant professor of computer science at the University of Central Florida was arrested at his office last week and faces two charges of stalking, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The professor, Ali Borji, allegedly sent 800 messages per day to a Ph.D. student, watched her exercise through the window at her gym and followed her in his car. The student said Borji originally reached out to her on Facebook and offered to help her with her studies shortly after she met him, last summer. She said they went out several times before she told Borji that she did not want a relationship, but he did not stop contacting her.

After she threatened to inform the police, Borji allegedly sent the student an email saying, “We are just one step away from eternal happiness,” according to police. The woman said she left the campus in the fall to escape Borji but that he continued to contact her and seek her out when she returned to campus in the spring, even threatening to create an artificial-intelligence facsimile of her and “do anything he wanted.” He also allegedly told the student that she should be "happy that somebody likes you this much to stalk you." Borji resigned from the university prior to his arrest and may not trespass on campus, a Central Florida spokesperson said.

Ad keywords: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - faculty
Back to Top