Well it has been fun

(Of course I would mess up the last post)

I’ve read through some of the reflections and for many of you its the requirement and its your first and only, as a business student who doesn’t have to sneak over here and do one of these this is my third. This was a very interesting class that had enough curve balls to improve my writing even further. I’ve taken all three of these classes from fall to spring to this summer and have noticed progressively less red on all my papers. The English department must be doing something right then.

While tweeting is something I have done many a time actually writing down opinions in a blog post was something new. As was of course the various public writings throughout the course. I now have a much wider range of material that I can take with me into my career as I go forward. I know that I didn’t realize how many different ways you can format writing in the public sphere that may only be seen by a few people but can make a big difference.

Then the theme. Well even though I may have been in the staunch big wig supporter camp for most of the semester it certainly was an interesting read into how wide pay actually is. Its enough to raise questions and read more. I don’t know if that was the goal but I think that it sure accomplished that. Not just because its a requirement but actually looking into it for personal reasons. As a business student I really liked my adjuncts that had day jobs. I just assumed they took this on as something to do and really became I little numb to it. I can safely say at least half if not more of my chosen business professors wound up being adjuncts teaching on the side. Many were ultra successful in there own right which made the issue of adjunct pay seem like an afterthought. The common first day quote of “I’m not teaching for the money” takes on new meaning after a class like this.

I feel like I have defiantly got a lot out of this class. The people were awesome and Noel yes you were to. I personally like this quick 6 week format as it was just a month and a half ago I was wondering what in the world are we going to be doing in this class. I think the speed and pace of the class was something that actually helped rather than hurt. I cant say that I would have got the same things out of it should this have been a traditional two and a half hour class in the evening or twice a week for about 90 minutes. The pace made sure to keep things rather new each and every time.

Best wishes Noel and to the rest of you.  As Ill be finishing up by the end of the year I think this class will be in the top of my memory going forward.

(Celebratory Cat Picture)celebrating-earth-day-with-your-green-cat

Advertisements

Animals and Budget Cuts

It seems the animal analogy played well last time so Ill elaborate on it a little for the second blog post.

The average lifespan of an S&P 500 corporation has dipped from 67 years around the 1920’s to a paltry 17 years in 2012. The average lifespan on the super massive, multi national, Fortune 500 hundred companies is around 40 years. Take care of yourself and you will outlive most companies seen on the Fortune 500. These are not small mom and pop shops which only have a 50/50 shot of seeing their second birthday but large companies that produce goods and services seen everyday. While I have a built in bias in favor of the business I think it’s a pretty safe bet you have heard someone complain about a business owner having too much money in some fashion or another. (“Pay their fair share” is the easiest quote to target) I hope this little factoid will at the very least let you understand why businesses have one ultimate goal, survival.

While the life spans of typical businesses is 3rd world dire, Universities do not necessarily face the same immediate peril. Why then make the connection? It is because they conduct themselves on the same premise, survival. “Corporation” can be traced back to ancient times applying not just to businesses but to universities and townships as well. The goal being that this grouping of power would outlast the lives of any one of the members. The primary goals top survival may vary now a days compared to back in the ancient times but the ties are there. Many Universities, foreign and domestic, receive some sort of public funding. This then  provides a constant source of food that businesses don’t have. This supply then is supplemented from tuition dollars, donations, endowments, and other factors which pay the universities overhead and yearly costs. While Universities in Europe can be traced back a good thousand years, any budget cuts can create a situation where the food supply dries up and the university is forced to close. Hence even the noble oxford will still take a survival mentality when discussing strategy.

So what about this weeks papers? Well Williams twice cites the Regan cuts to education as the cause of the student loan crisis. He also cites numerous ways we can remove student loans from the equation to improve the educational experience. Without picking aside he doesn’t seriously address where the educational money is coming from. I hope it is fair to say that his opinion is that higher education is a community investment in the community and not a market investment that should be paid for by consumer. He twice how a not necessarily small amount but small from our military budget would certainly solve the problems of student loans.

On paper it sounds ridiculously simple. So did his other examples right?

– Social Security Administration’s own trustees project disability insurance to be depleted by 2016 and the Medicare portion to be depleted by 2030

-The Works Progress Administrations, while successful in its goal lasted 8 years and was not re launched after the war.

-The GI Bill has morphed from an assistance to war time vets to a college grant dependent on time served or other factors.

-The Peace Corps, while the most stable of these programs, was still hampered by a 32 million USD loss in 2013.

I specifically do not disagree with him on the prospect, but it goes back to the food source that I have been harping on. While Williams uses the military budget as a place to fund his ideal state of no student loans, I would hope he has a more concrete idea for this plan. As of 2010 there are at least an estimated 4800 mouths to feed. That number inherently lower then the overall total when including all post secondary education. A dash of money from the military budget can turn into a full cup with a helping of tax increases in no time flat, sometimes through no fault of the government itself. My final word on this half of the post, good intentions do not constitute good planning and solid execution.

Ill work adjuncts in on my third blog post.

Infographic

I picked this info graphic because its a very easy read. While the metal content is overlooked a bit I think that was intentional. Its almost a two fold thing as first pass you appreciate the value the Olympic medals actually are, which cause you to look at the not as bold content of the metal. My only thing is that the gold, silver, and bronze labels could be bigger. Just looking at the medal and then the monetary value can be confusing  and may not get the point across right away.

James Field Blog Post

Paying adjuncts more and offering benefits is a short sighted solution. Noble? Needed? Very much so. Solves the problem? Absolutely not.

Something funny happens when we unionize and demand higher pay for the adjuncts. It doesn’t fix the problem of actually hiring well over 50 percent of university professors as adjuncts. I mention in my memo that adjuncts are, to be ultra blunt, easy. As mentioned in both articles these adjuncts still love to teach despite deplorable working conditions. I cannot argue against the need to pay these part time professors better with benefits and frankly I wont. But the question that will need to be asked is what happens in 5 years when there wages are treading the federal minimum line and they are relegated to a minimum wage job. What happens when the unions cant get the universities to agree to the terms needed to support these part time professors. Most importantly what will prevent administrators from continuing to hire more administrators.

Riederer calls it a path to corporatization. Students are becoming consumers and faculty are just another cost of doing business. She is correct. Then she assumes like other facets of  minimum wage debates that more pay for the part time work will make the world better. While there is enough evidence setting a floor for adjunct pay will lead to a better environment, (5.85 min wage vs 7.25 min wage) the measure is only a plug. Even if a union can include benefits to this pay that leaves adjuncts slightly more off then before while still fighting it out for class time, better offices, and other streams of income.

The problem is how to make the adjunct valuable. I write in my memo that college used to be academics with perks. This included hearing many a great men and women speak and lecture, if only for a short time. Now its perks with academics. She correctly assumes universities see faculty as a cost of business. That’s due in large part to the lack of draw pure academics has anymore. How then in this world of job placement, online schooling,hundred thousand seat sport arenas, and free stuff do we again make the part time professor valuable again.

A first step is to have adjuncts function as more than just adjuncts. The strangest thing I find is that universities are content to hire more administrators when hiring an adjunct to handle multiple roles can work just as well. As a business person the lack of use of adjuncts in admin roles is shocking. Even is less intense humanities majors what prevents the universities from having these adjuncts conduct work during the day for more than the minimum wage and teach a class in the evening that’s too general to justify a tenured professor while leaving the specialty classes to the few tenured faculty

Even as a business person I can tell you established corporations and Not for Profits with more than one decision maker function as animals. Their goal is survival. Even the mom and pop shop  displays this same basic instinct. So show the animal that adjuncts treated well are crucial to the survival of the organization. Do not simply demand more benefits but demand a larger role. Ideas such as sending adjuncts to high schools to recruit and teach college in high school courses generate much more value then teaching that same course 10 times on campus. How about sending them to community centers to teach the adult community or have them teach virtually which is a growing trend of education.

To surmise, throwing money at adjunct pay and benefits will not be a sustainable long term solution for either end. The real solution lies in making the adjunct more then a teacher but a contributor to the university. Justified in not just more benefits but a more stable environment. Universities, like corporations, are no more than animals. Their goal is to survive to next year and beyond. To keep the adjunct from falling to the depths of minimum wage, part time, experience building work. The position must be revamped to accommodate a wider range of roles. The tragedy of Mary Vojtko may have been prevented or prolonged with more benefits but what is to prevent Duquesne from hiring two more adjuncts, even at the higher rate, to replace her workload. If that isn’t addressed, then we will be discussing pay in incremental years to come as the inflation rate catches up to the predetermined minimum these adjuncts receive