[Marxism] The Last Professors

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jun 18 19:07:31 MDT 2008

In the June 18, 2008 edition of "Inside Higher Education", there was 
an interview with Frank Donoghue, the author of the newly published 
"The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the 
Humanities" caught my eye, especially with what he had to say about 
adjunct professors in the humanities field.

Q: Many advocates for adjuncts say that tenure-track (and especially 
tenured) professors did nothing or far too little as academe was 
restructured. Is this true? Why do you think this happened?

A: Certainly most tenure-track professors were oblivious as the 
teaching workforce was restructured, and very few predicted how dire 
a problem it would become. Had we identified the casualization of the 
teaching workforce as a problem when it began to take hold in the 
1980s, we might have been able to correct it. Paul Lauter referred to 
the misuse of adjuncts as a "scandal" in 1991 in Canons and Contexts, 
and he may have been the first to use language that strong. That we 
could have done much about it over the past twenty years presupposes 
that professors set hiring policies. At most institutions, professors 
have a lot of input in the hiring of other professors, but not in the 
hiring of adjuncts, either the people themselves or the terms of 
their contracts. Decisions about adjunct labor have, by and large, 
never been made by faculty, but have instead been part of larger 
administrative policies.

Since a number of young adjunct professors in New York I am friendly 
with have told me some real atrocity tales about finding a 
tenure-track position, I decided to read Donoghue's book. In a way, 
it might as well be titled "Peak Education" since it describes a 
downward trajectory ending in disaster in the same fashion as "peak 
oil" theories, except with academia the prospects seem far more 
grounded in objective reality.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/the-last-professors/

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