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The Faculty Lounges: and Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For

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College tuition has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation in the past two decades. While faculties like to blame the rising costs on fancy athletic buildings and bloated administrations, professors are hardly getting the short end of the stick. Spending on instruction has increased twenty-two percent over the past decade at private research universities. Paren College tuition has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation in the past two decades. While faculties like to blame the rising costs on fancy athletic buildings and bloated administrations, professors are hardly getting the short end of the stick. Spending on instruction has increased twenty-two percent over the past decade at private research universities. Parents and taxpayers shouldn't get overheated about faculty salaries: tenure is where they should concentrate their anger. The jobs-for-life entitlement that comes with an ivory tower position is at the heart of so many problems with higher education today. Veteran journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley, an alumna of one of the country's most expensive and best-endowed schools, explores how tenure has promoted a class system in higher education, leaving contingent faculty who are barely making minimum wage and have no time for students to teach large swaths of the undergraduate population. She shows how the institution of tenure forces junior professors to keep their mouths shut for a decade or more if they disagree with senior faculty about anything from politics to research methods. Lastly, she examines how the institution of tenure--with the job security, mediocre salaries, and low levels of accountability it entails--may be attracting the least innovative and interesting members of our society into teaching.


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College tuition has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation in the past two decades. While faculties like to blame the rising costs on fancy athletic buildings and bloated administrations, professors are hardly getting the short end of the stick. Spending on instruction has increased twenty-two percent over the past decade at private research universities. Paren College tuition has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation in the past two decades. While faculties like to blame the rising costs on fancy athletic buildings and bloated administrations, professors are hardly getting the short end of the stick. Spending on instruction has increased twenty-two percent over the past decade at private research universities. Parents and taxpayers shouldn't get overheated about faculty salaries: tenure is where they should concentrate their anger. The jobs-for-life entitlement that comes with an ivory tower position is at the heart of so many problems with higher education today. Veteran journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley, an alumna of one of the country's most expensive and best-endowed schools, explores how tenure has promoted a class system in higher education, leaving contingent faculty who are barely making minimum wage and have no time for students to teach large swaths of the undergraduate population. She shows how the institution of tenure forces junior professors to keep their mouths shut for a decade or more if they disagree with senior faculty about anything from politics to research methods. Lastly, she examines how the institution of tenure--with the job security, mediocre salaries, and low levels of accountability it entails--may be attracting the least innovative and interesting members of our society into teaching.

30 review for The Faculty Lounges: and Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Zell

    Naomi Schaefer Riley. The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For. Ivan R. Dee, 2011. Tenure is the goal of most academics. When a professor receives tenure, the professor is virtually guaranteed a teaching position until retirement. Tenure is a good thing isn't it? Wouldn't we all want to reach a point in our professional lives where we had security? Yes, of course. The question though is whether or not tenure is good for the school and the student Naomi Schaefer Riley. The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For. Ivan R. Dee, 2011. Tenure is the goal of most academics. When a professor receives tenure, the professor is virtually guaranteed a teaching position until retirement. Tenure is a good thing isn't it? Wouldn't we all want to reach a point in our professional lives where we had security? Yes, of course. The question though is whether or not tenure is good for the school and the students? Riley argues that tenure is good for neither schools nor students. Based on research and the observation of fellow professionals, Riley states that tenure discourages good teaching and decreases interaction with students. The criteria for gaining tenure is not teaching performance, it is publication. In the pursuit of research and publishing, professors end up spending as much time as possible away from the office and students. The office and students are sources of distraction from what truly matters: publishing articles and books in order to satisfy a quota for tenure. In addition to not connecting with students, what a professor publishes tends not to be for the good of the students or academia as a whole. Published works have a narrow focus and often use language and address issues that are pertinent for a specific audience. Riley states what others have observed. When a professor no longer has to prove himself or herself in the classroom, the lectures become stale in delivery and content. Why would a student want to become interested in a subject that the professor is not interested in? Taking away tenure forces professors to continue to grow, develop, engage with new scholarship and the students before them. Many disagree with Riley. She knows this. For those of us who are considering an investment in higher education, Riley's concerns merit a thoughtful hearing. It may shape your decisions for the future.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Meh. She makes good points clearly, but her points weren't particularly new or surprising. She also locates Grove City College in Ohio rather than PA, where it really is, so it makes me wonder if there are other fact-checking issues. Meh. She makes good points clearly, but her points weren't particularly new or surprising. She also locates Grove City College in Ohio rather than PA, where it really is, so it makes me wonder if there are other fact-checking issues.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    An excellent tale of how university administrators are ruining college education. Could also be titled: why I refuse to teach at a college or university ever again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Connolly

    History of Academic Freedom Academic freedom is a solution in search of a problem. There have been few examples of professors who got into trouble for holding unpopular views. Riley mentions two of them. 1894, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Education charged Richard T. Ely of the University of Wisconsin at Madison with teaching and supporting alien and revolutionary doctrines, because he wrote an article in The Nation in favor of organized labor. Ely was acquitted. In 1900, Jane Stanford, the History of Academic Freedom Academic freedom is a solution in search of a problem. There have been few examples of professors who got into trouble for holding unpopular views. Riley mentions two of them. 1894, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Education charged Richard T. Ely of the University of Wisconsin at Madison with teaching and supporting alien and revolutionary doctrines, because he wrote an article in The Nation in favor of organized labor. Ely was acquitted. In 1900, Jane Stanford, the widow of the university’s founder, forced Edward A. Ross of Stanford University to resign, because he supported of socialism. The Progressive Movement and John Dewey In 1915, John Dewey and Arthur O. Lovejoy founded the American Association of University Professors. Dewey saw attempts by those outside academia to control the work of professional scholars as being a corruption of the independence of scholars. Concept of Academic Freedom Many people have had difficulty coming up with a clear definition of “academic freedom” and stating its limits. Is Holocaust denial an acceptable form of academic freedom? How much does academic freedom prevent administrators from holding faculty accountable for their behavior? Can university benefactors place restrictions on faculty scholarship? Public Officials and Freedom of Speech Riley discusses the 2006 U.S. Supreme Court case Garcetti v. Ceballos, which stated that the First Amendment does not allow public officials to keep their jobs, regardless what they say in the performance of their job. It is not clear whether the same principle applies to college professors. Journalistic Freedom Journalists are protected from government by the First Amendment. But, unlike college professors, journalists are not protected from being fired by their employer if they publish an article that the owner does not like. Tenure at the Modern Research University Stanford University was founded on the German model of a research university, where research was more important than teaching. In most American universities, teaching is regarded as a secondary responsibility of college professors. When research is the main criterion for judging faculty, only professors at other universities who are in the same field can evaluate the performance of professors. Administrators have only limited influence in the granting of tenure. Adjunct Faculty Much of the teaching at colleges and universities is performed by graduate students, adjunct faculty, temporary and part-time instructors. Their salaries and benefits are lower than those of full-time, tenure-track faculty. They are often required to share offices. Ph.D.s in the natural sciences can find jobs in private sector, but there is an oversupply of Ph.D. in the humanities, because too many students are admitted to their Ph.D. program. There are also lots of people with masters degrees who can teach, so colleges don’t need to hire humanities doctorates. Religious Institutions While it is difficult for administrators to fire tenured faculty at public colleges and universities, at private religious institutions, faculty who violate the religious rules can be fired. Age Discrimination In recent years in the United States, the tenure issue has been complicated by the fact that mandatory retirement for tenured faculty has been outlawed by federal age discrimination legislation. Tenure in the United Kingdom Maggie Thatcher’s Education Reform Act 1988 abolished tenure for academics appointed on or after November 20, 1987. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) defends the academic freedom of college professors, including those who are conservative or libertarian. Center for College Affordability and Productivity Richard Vedder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity lead a survey of school ranking based on outputs rather than inputs. Outputs used included the starting salaries of the graduates, the number of awards that the graduates received, and the amount of debt that the graduates were saddled with. The results were published in Forbes magazine. West Point was ranked #1. American Council of Trustees and Alumni This organization rates universities on the breadth of the content of their required courses. A poor rating will be given to schools that allow students to satisfy their breadth requirements with courses that are not rigorous or which are too specialized. Anne Neal is the president of ACTA. The Author’s Recommendations The author, Naomi Riley, asserts that you have the right to free speech, but not the right to a job, regardless of what you say. She recommends tenure for researchers only, not for teachers. She comments favorably on "professors of practice”, who receive get multi-year teaching contracts, instead of tenure. Riley says that there is no need for tenure to preserve academic freedom in these 3 situations: • vocational disciplines: teachers are not doing research • pre-stipulated political goals (similar to religious strictures) • schools owned by corporations (e.g., the University of Phoenix)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    Riley's book attacks tenure as an unnecessary and misused construct which has contributed significantly to the decline in American universities. From my perspective as a staff person at a university she is correct. She touches too briefly, I feel, on things that I've seen: the predominance of "groupthink" on campuses, the way getting tenure results in a decline both in teaching efforts (of our 10 tenured, full professors only 1 ever bothers to even open his teaching evaluation reports) but also Riley's book attacks tenure as an unnecessary and misused construct which has contributed significantly to the decline in American universities. From my perspective as a staff person at a university she is correct. She touches too briefly, I feel, on things that I've seen: the predominance of "groupthink" on campuses, the way getting tenure results in a decline both in teaching efforts (of our 10 tenured, full professors only 1 ever bothers to even open his teaching evaluation reports) but also in research productivity, and most damning of all, the way the most senior faculty spend the least amount of time with students. She also touches too briefly on the hypocrisy which is so prevalent on campus. An American university campus is a bastion of liberalism. Professors expound their leftist viewpoints in the certainty that everyone listening will agree with them (or at least not dare contradict them) and yet, these same people who claim to despise sexism and racism and classism are the biggest perpetrators of sexism and classism I've ever encountered. Riley spends too much time discussion how adjunct faculty are unable to be available for students due to teaching loads and misses out on the fact that the tenured faculty are on campus the least (teaching on a Tues/Thurs schedule and spending fewer than 8 hours total on campus on either day). She completely misses the incredible bitterness about salaries; I know of no professor who doesn't feel underpaid, yet not a one of them considers that he or she is getting paid a 10-month salary, not a 12-month, for turning up in the office 2 or 3 days out of a week and getting paid extra if he teaches 5 weeks in the summer. Every time the administration asks them to do something new it's labelled an "unfunded mandate" - they are outraged to be asked to do something more with no additional compensation (and the solution to this, they feel, is to assign it to the staff; apparently it's fine for us to be asked to do more for no additional pay). The book would make a good starting point for a discussion, if any faculty member would actually be willing to read it. I know of only 1 at my institution who would and he already makes convincing arguments in letters to the editor in the local paper.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard Grebenc

    The main thread running throughout the book is that tenure is bad for everyone who is not tenured (other faculty [particularly adjuncts], students, and administrators). According to the author, tenure allows faculty who attain it to keep the job for life, with little chance of being fired regardless of performance in or out of the classroom. Also, she says, such persons tend to prefer research to teaching (she decries much of research as having little value due to its narrow focus or obscure top The main thread running throughout the book is that tenure is bad for everyone who is not tenured (other faculty [particularly adjuncts], students, and administrators). According to the author, tenure allows faculty who attain it to keep the job for life, with little chance of being fired regardless of performance in or out of the classroom. Also, she says, such persons tend to prefer research to teaching (she decries much of research as having little value due to its narrow focus or obscure topics), so students are not getting the benefit of learning from these more experienced teachers. She provides statistics, examples, and recommendations. Some are compelling, others are not. Also, the reader doesn't hear vociferously enough from those who believe tenure is a good thing (such arguments are given short shrift in my view). More balance would have made this a better book, but I still would recommend it to anyone going to college, in college, looking to work at a college, or already working there. Much food for thought, and as someone who has logged many student hours, as well as some as professor, I found myself nodding in agreement often. I have already passed it along to a professor friend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    An interesting look at tenure and it's effect on college teaching. The author does a good job of exposing how colleges are no longer delivering a great broad-based education, and how many of the classes are taught by low-paid adjuncts. She only touches on some of the other costs of college beyond tenure, though - she mentions the high cost of things like government regulation and liability concerns, but that's a huge part of rising costs. And she mentions things like fancy dining halls and dorms An interesting look at tenure and it's effect on college teaching. The author does a good job of exposing how colleges are no longer delivering a great broad-based education, and how many of the classes are taught by low-paid adjuncts. She only touches on some of the other costs of college beyond tenure, though - she mentions the high cost of things like government regulation and liability concerns, but that's a huge part of rising costs. And she mentions things like fancy dining halls and dorms and gyms, but colleges have those things for a reason - because they need them to attract students. She menions that colleges are basically subsidizing grad classes with undergrads - which may be true for full-time programs, but colleges increasingly are offering part-time programs that are a cash cow for them. Still, it's an interesting read and good food for thought about a subject that many people don't think of if they don't have college aged kids or work in higher ed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I read this quickly. But the basic idea seems to be that graduate students and adjuncts are mostly teaching the undergraduates. It appears that no one is teaching these graduate student 'teachers', actually, (except in schools of education i assume) and thus this teaching work is subsequently done on an ad hoc department by department basis. The sense I got, rather was that the grad students and adjunct to a lesser extent is not taught how to be teaching really at all denied as they are the perk I read this quickly. But the basic idea seems to be that graduate students and adjuncts are mostly teaching the undergraduates. It appears that no one is teaching these graduate student 'teachers', actually, (except in schools of education i assume) and thus this teaching work is subsequently done on an ad hoc department by department basis. The sense I got, rather was that the grad students and adjunct to a lesser extent is not taught how to be teaching really at all denied as they are the perks of a support community; leaving these overworked minions as spottily union represented underpaid worker-class scholars to offer intro. courses to the wolverines while themselves are students of a different stripe. That in and of itself is innovating for the sheer randomness of it all. But Riley does counter this with appreciation of the tenure culture that develops to shape and hone the departmental credo. There is more to say,

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The arguments here can be easily refuted, as they relied on circumstantial evidence when convenient. And where are the faculty lounges? This was just a gimmicky title for a book with a gimmicky argument; this read like a book that was just written to make money. It should really be called "Naomi Schaefer Riley's Case Against Tenure." Some of her ideas were certainly valid, but the overall approach was a turn-off for me. The arguments here can be easily refuted, as they relied on circumstantial evidence when convenient. And where are the faculty lounges? This was just a gimmicky title for a book with a gimmicky argument; this read like a book that was just written to make money. It should really be called "Naomi Schaefer Riley's Case Against Tenure." Some of her ideas were certainly valid, but the overall approach was a turn-off for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Pretty good in covering the tenure part of the problem. It also touches on many other components of why colleges are so screwed up today.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pito Salas

    Very interesting look behind the higher education system, tenure, unions, politics and more.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  13. 5 out of 5

    David

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Swan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Randy Meyer

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Kempner

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keith

  19. 4 out of 5

    EJ Donaghey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Larry Candell

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joel S

  22. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Howard Cohen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kanner

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Vieweg

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Thornton

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nikita

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Ruth

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 4 out of 5

    Raul

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