Friday, July 21, 2006

University Shredding


Update/clarification: Sorry, no, it's not my office. (I didn't have an office. I had a cubicle 15 blocks from where I taught. On campus, my office was a trailer, not a sturdy interior like this.) I have my job (complaining will start in September) and I knew I should've been specific--the computer science department was eliminated at Loyola (the reasons are unclear and hardly fit their claim to be thinking about community needs) and this professor was given a month to clear out. He taped the letter to his door as his last words, to show what the administration did. This is going on at Loyola and Tulane and UNO. These are not fly-by-night adjuncts but tenured professors with functional departments.


7/25/06: My "fly-by-night" comment was not a statement of fact or belief but a reiteration of one of the university myths about adjuncts--that they work full-time at other jobs and teach just to keep in touch with academia (
huh?), that they are temporary and disposable, that they are less capable or just starting out and adjuncting gives them a chance to grow as teachers (huh? squared), etc. I have yet to meet an adjunct that fits the university myths.

18 Comments:

Blogger CrankyProf said...

Oh, lord. I am so, so sorry. That's awful.

The bastards couldn't even be bothered to put the letter in an envelope? They had to tape it to the damn door?? How rude and uncaring.

Big hugs to you. If you need anything, let me know. (I don't know if you're willing to relocate, but several Big Eastern Unis are looking...)

Sat Jul 22, 06:14:00 AM  
Anonymous ashley said...

I think this ain't G. Bitch's letter; this was sent to Ken Messa, (former) chair of Computer Science, which is evidently not needed Post-K. Look's like Ken decided to post it on his door.

I gotta call him and take him out for drinks. Him, Denny, Tucci, and the whole bunch of 'em, although Tucci is still there teaching math.

Man, how glad am I that I turned down a Loyola job offer years ago. Great people, but man, I'd be on the streets right now with 3 kids under 4 years old.

Sat Jul 22, 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger ChasingMoksha said...

I cannot read the letter. But there does seem to be an air to it. I hope all is well.

Sat Jul 22, 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

I have often caused chaos. I apppreciate your sympathy and offers, CrankyProf, and will need them soon.

Moksha, there is an air to it, an air of indiffernece, arrogance, disposability....

Ashley, yes, you would be on the street. But "evidently not needed Post-K"? There's still talk of trying to draw technology jobs and we all cannot work cleaning hotel rooms or frying fucking chicken legs. These departments are not being shut down/eliminated b/c they are unviable or have suffered (mostly--physics almost got cut until Loyola realized it needed it, for accreditation, i think) but b/c of a master plan by paper pushing non-academics giving lip service to education, standards and the community at large.
There are ways to cut costs and trim down and then there's cutting stuff b/c a board member doesn't understand why a department exosts or what it does or a dean needs to get rid of a mouthy professor. If they'd done it right.....

Unfortunately for me, the U. wants to keep my ass. Somebody thinks there's something left to drain out of me.

Sat Jul 22, 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could read it...

Sat Jul 22, 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the contents of the letter (for those who could read it):

Dear Dr. Messa:

As you know the Baord of Trustees voed on May 19, 2006 to implement the University’s revised strategic plan and recommendations for restructuring which included discontinuance of certain programs. The selection of programs to discontinue resulted from intense study by the administration, the University Senate, and the Standing Council for Academic Planning, the process provided for in Chapter 9>E of our Faculty Handbook. Regrettably, and as you may have been previously advised, this has resulte in the elimination of your position with the University.

Consequently, as provided for by the Faculty Handbook, the Universityis providing you with severence salary. Your severance will be in the form of paid leave through May 17, 2007, meaning you will be considered as on leave and wll receive your normal pay and benefits until that date. If you secure other employment before May 17, 2007, your leave status will terminate although you will continue to receive the balance of your severance salary, and your continued receipt of Loyola benefits will depend upon your elibibility for benefits with a subsequent employer (it being our intent that you receive Loyola benefits for so long as you are eligible, up to the end of your leav). COBRA will be available if needed upon the conclusion of your leave.

In the meantime, you will not be expected to teach or otherwise perform you normal duties as a faculty member unless agreed to in writing with you, your dean, and myself. We ask that you plan to relinquish your office by Friday, June 30, 2006, and that by then you return all University property which you may have (e.g., computer, equipment, library books, keys, credit cards, identification cards, and parkng pass). For your convenience, we will maintain your Loyola email account through May 17, 2007.

On behalf of myself and the University, I want to thank you for your service and contributions to Loyola. This has been a difficult time for Loyola, its students, faculty, and staff, and we know in particular that this time has been difficult for you. We encourage you to call if you have any questions about your leave or if there is any other assistance we can give you.

Sincerely,

Walter Harris, Jr.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Sat Jul 22, 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...for those who COULDN'T read it, that is...

Sat Jul 22, 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Another Conflict Theorist said...

Extremely Ruthless.

In other words:

"Dear Dr. Messa:

Through some combination of crytic voting and arbitrary decision making, we've decided that we don't want you here anymore. We're only paying you through May of 2007 because we have to. Give us our shit back and get out.

Sincerely,

Walter Harris, Jr.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Complete Asshole"

Sat Jul 22, 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ray in New Orleans said...

The talk of trying to draw in technology jobs at the same time that they're gutting the comp sci departments shows that they have a 3rd graders understanding of how the technology industry works.

This is a great article on what makes a city a good place to grow a high tech hub:

http://paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html

Surprisingly, New Orleans is not too bad of a match, *if* Tulane and UNO and Loyola were working on improving their CS/EE programs. Instead, they're cancelling them outright.

Kiss high tech goodbye forever, peoples. Palo Alto and Austin and Boston are smarter than the powers-that-be here and they don't want to send their jobs and VC money here. They'll just come here a couple times a year and get drunk and then leave.

Sat Jul 22, 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Right on, Ray! Exactly!

The powers-that-be at Loyola are PROUD of themselves, proud of this stuff.

Sat Jul 22, 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

Yes, proud to be ruthless, short sighted, destructive to the institution and the city, and on, and on.

Sat Jul 22, 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Schroeder said...

"A master plan by paper pushing non-academics giving lip service to education, standards and the community at large" is right on the "MONEY"!

There may no longer be engineering programs in a city with the world's biggest engineering problem, there may no longer be computer science departments in a city that's ripe for growth in computer technology and needs more of it to plan solutions for the future, they're may no longer be cultural education programs in a city that profits from its cultural heritage, but Tulane, Loyola, and UNO will sure have some nice-looking new buildings.

Sun Jul 23, 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Schroeder said...

And by the way, adjunct instructors who are in a less secure situation are being totally screwed over without even the benefit of a letter telling them that they won't have a job this fall.

Sun Jul 23, 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

And by the way, adjunct instructors who are in a less secure situation are being totally screwed over without even the benefit of a letter telling them that they won't have a job this fall.

Pretty typical in my experience pre-Katrina, much less post-. I know things were better and more secure at Tulane and Loyola specifically before Katrina but they were lucky adjuncts. The rest in town were doing 5+ classes, all semester-long contracts, for $1300-2000 a course, busting ass for $20K/year.

After Katrina, Xavier, Dillard, Tulane and Loyola essentially fired all adjuncts. Some folks were kept here and there, some had to be rehired, some still get to wait until the last minute to find out if they are "needed."

Now tenured professors have the same sense of security as adjuncts. (I haven't spouted about adjunct-ing, I guess. Yet.) I don't see the progress there.

Sun Jul 23, 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Z said...

Statewide they seem to be raising teaching loads so as to get rid of adjuncts. The luckiest few adjuncts will get kept as instructors, more security than before. Or so I hear.
This is to save money post-hurricane, supposedly. Construction, however, continues, and all faculty who stay, have more work.

Mon Jul 24, 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

As the aforementioned adjunct, (by Schroeder), I'm feeling pretty good about how much I was paid by UNO in comparison to the $1300-$2000 per course figure. Business school adjuncts get paid more than those in liberal arts, where I had a friend who did the 5 classes per semester thing (at more than one university) for more than five years, paying dues while waiting for a tenure track offer. And after all that, he's probably gone now, too.

I feel like I've been paying my dues as well and the possibility of a full-time instructor's position has been dangled before me repeatedly in the last few years. And now, with less than a month to go before the semester begins, I have no idea if I'm actually teaching the four classes I was asked to teach in March. Nothing's been confirmed. All my courses are still listed but with no instructor's name. Am I supposed to take the time to prep for these classes while they try to figure out whether or not they have the enrollment and budget?

I love my work, but I can't keep playing this game. I need health insurance and some job security, but clearly that's all pie in the sky.

I know I'm just a lowly adjunct, a microorganism at the bottom of the university food chain. (But I worked consistently in my department for the 4+ years before The Storm. Not all of us are fly-by-night.) I really do feel for the big fish who had tenure and contracts and obviously a false sense of value and security.

Mon Jul 24, 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Lisa, I feel for you, I really do and have been in your situation and at the U., I scowl, sneer and spit acid when the U and my chair not only wait until the week classes start to confirm (or give) adjuncts schedules but get Attitude when adjuncts have taken other jobs, moved or have decided not to take an offer so late in the game.

As an ENG/liberal arts person, we are the bottom of the hiring and pay pole. What else is new?

Hope you hear something soon. Hope it all works out for you.

Mon Jul 24, 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Thanks, G-Bitch. This is the first time that I didn't know whether or not I was teaching anything at all, but I can't count the number of times I've been asked to teach a class with less than a week's notice, and at least twice I've been asked during the first week after classes had begun. I've bailed them out every time.

I just got an e-mail from my Chair saying he's repeatedly asked the dean, the classes have more than enough students enrolled, but he can't get a committment. He's going to ask again. The budget situation is critical. Theirs and mine.

Oh well...

Mon Jul 24, 07:43:00 PM  

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