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An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker: stop perpetuating the myth of the lazy professor

Dear Gov. Walker,

Last week, you told professors at the University of Wisconsin that they needed to “work harder.” You were making a case that the Wisconsin state budget crisis could be ameliorated by increasing employee efficiency, and you suggested having faculty teach at least one more class. I’m not going to talk about whether or not the budget crisis is manufactured (some have argued it could be solved by accepting federal funds for the state’s Badger Care health program), or whether your real goal is really partisan politics, and not fiscal responsibility.

Ouch.

Ouch. Photo by fellow UW Madison geographer Sigrid Peterson.

Instead, I want to talk about the myth of the lazy professor, a stereotype that you’ve reinforced with your comment. I spent 2005 to 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, where I obtained a PhD in the Department of Geography; I am now an assistant professor at the University of Maine.

When you say we should work harder, I hear two things: 1) we aren’t working hard, and 2) we don’t think we have to. Professors seem like an easy target. We have good job security, we’re paid well, we often come from privileged backgrounds. We appear to have little to do but teach a class for a few hours a week, and we have extended vacations. It’s easy to see us as cloistered in the Ivory Tower, without much experience with the “real world” and the concerns of average folks.

The picture I’ve painted for you is incomplete, though. First, the diversity of faculty has been increasing slowly, to include women, minorities, the working class, and other historically underrepresented groups. We may be paid well, but we’re not paid as well as our counterparts in the nonacademic positions, and getting a PhD comes with many opportunity costs (at 34, I have only just started a retirement fund and saving for a home). For me, as a working class, first-generation college student, a PhD and an academic career was a pathway to the middle class.

A faculty career is much more than a couple of leisurely hours pontificating in the classroom. I put in 50 to 60 hours of work a week at a minimum, and only 6 of those are in the classroom. So what about the rest?

  • Teaching preparation: It can take hours to prepare each lecture, including research, reading, and preparing slides and notes. Then, there’s grading, office hours to meet with students, and the undergraduate majors I advise. Total, this takes an average of 15 hours a week.
  • Meetings: I meet with my graduate advisees for an hour each, plus our weekly lab meetings. I have faculty meetings (where we try to decide things like how to run the department with the most undergraduate majors on campus in the face of drastic budget cuts). I have university-level committee work (faculty do a lot of administrative work to help the university function). I’m on a search committee this semester to hire a new professor to replace one who passed away unexpectedly. I attend presentations by visiting scholars and students, and committee meetings for the students I advise. Total, meetings can average 10 hours a week.
  • Research: I go into the field or the lab when I can but most of my time these days is spent on proposals (which have a 6% success rate, and which bring in money to the university in the form of 46% overhead). Writing papers takes a lot of time: analysis, writing, revision, making figures, submission to a journal, and revision. I try to save at least 10 hours a week for research even in busy weeks, but I don’t always succeed. When I have a grant deadline, this can take 20-60 hours a week.
  • Service & Outreach: I review papers and grant proposals in my discipline and am an editor for two journals (an unpaid service). I am on the board of an international scientific society. I co-run the department seminar program, where we bring scholars from all over the world to interact with our scientists and fuel collaboration and innovation. I give talks at other universities (typically unpaid), and I am a resource for journalists and general inquiries from the community. I blog and use Twitter. I host school children in my lab and Skype with classrooms and give public lectures. None of this is in my job description, but I do it because communicating my work is important to me, and because as a faculty at a public land grant institution doing publicly funded work, I believe I have a duty to do so. This can take as much as 5-10 hours a week.

All told, this adds to at least 50 to 60 hours a week, on average, year-round. I don’t get summers off. I may not get paid for my work in the summer, but operations don’t cease in my lab or my office. Summer is a time to push forward research, to get into the field and collect new data, and to take advantage of the lack of meetings and classes to get work done. I think my situation is pretty typical, compared with my colleagues’ work loads in the sciences (my friends in the humanities often have much heavier teaching loads, though grant-writing and research expectations may be reduced in contrast).

So, Governor, when you say “work harder,” I want to know if you’re really asking me to add another 15-20 hours to my week? If not, where do I make the cuts? Which of the above can I stop doing without doing a major disservice to my department, my university, my students, or my field? Or, I could do the same amount of work, but put less effort into teaching, and pass those cuts along to the students taking my classes, and the parents investing in their kids’ educations.

When you tell us to “work harder,” you paint a false picture of academic labor and its value. The University of Wisconsin has a rich legacy of teaching, research, and service to the state, the nation, and the world; this is the institution that has made immense advancements in nutrition (including discoveries of vitamins A and B, methods for fortification of milk with vitamin D and iodization that have saved thousands of lives), that pioneered the field of meteorology, made major advancements in the study of what causes and cures cancer, that conducted the nation’s first bone marrow transplant, discovered retroviruses, developed the map projection used by National Geographic, and cultured the first embryonic stem cells.

These innovations came about not by random chance or lone genius, but by work. Hard work.

It doesn’t matter, ultimately, whether the myth of the lazy professor is born of anti-intellectualism, political grandstanding, or ignorance. It belittles the efforts of people working to save lives, develop new technologies, protect our natural resources, create works of beauty for others to enjoy, and understand the forces that have shaped our past and our present. It diminishes our legacy, and promotes policies that will undermine our ability to innovate, adapt, create, and understand our world.

I invite you to consider shadowing a professor for a week. I’m sure there are any number of folks who would be willing to share their labor with you, so that you understand the full extent of what hard work looks like through our eyes. My office door is always open should you find yourself in Maine.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jacquelyn Gill
University of Wisconsin ’08 (MS), ’12 (PhD)

PS I wrote this letter in my “free time.”

Categories: Academia Commentary Good Causes

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Jacquelyn Gill

227 replies

  1. How you addressed the issue was very interesting, especially when you factor in that such ignorant remarks from a man holding public office makes the future seem bleak but you put him in a place of thought. If he ever reads this I hope it sits him and down and makes him a careful speaker

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  2. Reblogged this on bagsandbookslover and commented:
    People in the government even here in my own country thinks that being a teacher is something “less” than what they are doing. Please people give us some respect.

    I am also a teacher. I work 40 hours a week as prescribed by the school administration but I stay at school beyond that 40 hours since I still need to finish checking papers and programs (computer science major) and sometimes tutor students who are having a hard time with their programming skills. Then I’m also studying during weekends (deadlines for research and others are being squeeze in on my weekdays).

    I really don’t know what does “work harder” mean.

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  3. Reblogged this on MathGradStudent and commented:
    I found this very nice blog post on the myth of the lazy professor. (no, I’m not avoiding studying for prelims by reading all of WordPress. Why do you think that?) I’ve spent four years at two different universities, and during those four years I’ve never met a professor who didn’t work 50-60 hours a week. The myth of the lazy professor ties in to so many of my favourite misconceptions about teaching. My mother is a high school teacher, and she gets it from politicians all the time: “teachers only spend 15-20 hours a week in the classrooms, they have such a nice cushy job”. That’s the opposite of true. A bare minimum of preparation before each class is about 20 minutes, then on top of that there is preparing homeworks, labs and exams. And then there is at least 5-6 hours of grading each week for each class, and on top of that talking to students and their parents, and doing various administrative tasks that keep popping up. 15-20 hours of contact time is a full-time job. More than that actually, if you want to do a good job and not just a passable one. Those 20 minutes of preparation will be more like an hour if you want to give a good, engaging class.

    A college professor is only supposed to teach 50% of the time, and spend the rest on research, so the normal 6 or so hours of face time with students is spot on. Especially if you consider that advising graduate students and undergraduate students comes on top of the regular teaching. So to everyone who thinks that college professors have it easy: think again.

    Oh, and as a side note: I find it funny that people love to tell teachers how easy they have it, but public speaking is consistently the thing most people fear. And yet people call out teachers and professors for having an easy job. I find it extremely frustrating, especially coming from people I know who work in industry. They can take weeks to prepare for a 20 minute presentation, yet are shocked that it takes 20-60 minutes to prepare a 50 minute class. There is a lot more to teaching than what you see in a classroom. Anyway, I’ll stop ranting now and let you read this excellent blog post.

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  4. Reblogged this on Small Town Soul, Big City Brain and commented:
    Unfortunately, the governor is not listening to any rebuttals to his half-brained media comments. His only goal is to become president, and everything he says appeals directly to Republicans. The people he is targeting do not look beyond headlines, and Walker knows that even bad publicity is publicity. He has also skillfully applied a tried and true Republican tactic–divide and conquer. While we are all squabbling about how the budget should be cut and defending ourselves against meaningless verbal attacks, he is gathering his cronies and raising more and more money with which to win the presidential election. Like the same way he secretly allowed his buddies to build a gas pipeline from northern WI to IL without anyone knowing about it until now (http://www.wisconsingazette.com/wisconsin/xxlbreakwisconsin-pipeline-dwarfs-keystone-and-affects-every-waterway-in-the-state.html). His plan is working exactly as intended, and the more we fight among ourselves, the more successful he will be. The only strategy that will work against Walker is solidarity. After witnessing the fallout on my campus, solidarity seems impossible. Thus, Walker will win.

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  5. Unfortunately, the governor is not listening to any rebuttals to his half-brained media comments. His only goal is to become president, and everything he says appeals directly to Republicans. The people he is targeting do not look beyond headlines, and Walker knows that even bad publicity is publicity. He has also skillfully applied a tried and true Republican tactic–divide and conquer. While we are all squabbling about how the budget should be cut and defending ourselves against meaningless verbal attacks, he is gathering his cronies and raising more and more money with which to win the presidential election. Like the same way he secretly allowed his buddies to build a gas pipeline from northern WI to IL without anyone knowing about it until now (http://www.wisconsingazette.com/wisconsin/xxlbreakwisconsin-pipeline-dwarfs-keystone-and-affects-every-waterway-in-the-state.html). His plan is working exactly as intended, and the more we fight among ourselves, the more successful he will be. The only strategy that will work against Walker is solidarity. After witnessing the fallout on my campus, solidarity seems impossible. Thus, Walker will win.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Acknowledging a mere 6 hours a week in the classroom identifies what has caused the costs of attending college to so radically increase. Professors teach the same courses year after yrsr. It simply can’t require that much prep time. Anything other than class room teaching should be done on a Professor’s own time — particularly research, raising money, etc. Professors like H.S. teachers are paid to be in the classroom, and they should be there at least 25 to 30 hours a week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spend six hours a week in the classroom actively teaching. Grading takes a lot of time. Advising students takes a lot of time. And teaching prep does take time. Faculty are always preparing new classes, keeping up with the literature and new advances in our field, developing new exercises as the science of pedagogy changes, etc. None of this is new. Don’t blame professors for the increased cost of college. If anything, professors bring money to universities because of our grant work. My position is 50/50 research and teaching, which means I am technically paid for 20 hours of work teaching each week, but I spend much more time than that on teaching related activities. Professors are not like high school teachers. There are some similarities, but many differences. We do a lot more administrative work, we serve on more committees, we advise students (including undergraduate and graduate students), and research is an integral part of our job. If my position was 100% teaching, I would agree with you, But even then you can’t only count hours spent in front of a class as “teaching”. I guarantee I am already spending 25 to 30 hours a week doing activities that would be considered teaching.

      And, I repeat, this is nothing new. A professor’s job now is very similar to what it was 100 years ago, except we spend a lot more time writing grants than we used to. And since I am working 70 hours a week or more most weeks, I’m already doing a lot on my “own time,” especially when you consider the fact that I, like most professors, am only paid during the academic year, But work year-round. If you want someone to blame for the rising cost of education, look to bloating administrative costs, not the labor of professors. And if you are concerned about the quality of your child’s college education, you should be worried about hiring more professors, instead of exploiting adjunct labor.

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      1. I understand what your are moting. However, I have both a B.S. and an M.S. Degree and substantial time spent attending other courses to enhance my technical knowledge.

        I never once asked for or needed advice or assistance from a professor or their grad students– other than the required involvement on Masters Thesis / Projects.

        Professors ate there to impart their knowledge, understanding, opinions in a class (non lab) setting. If the college attendee can’t grasp the (non lab) subjects on their own, that is not the subject for them, and perhaps they don’t belong in college.

        If Universities / colleges have structured the jobs of Professors such that they are unable to make their most valuable contribution — which is in the classroom imparting what they learned while earning their PhD, that simply identifies a major problem with University management.

        You are right about a difference between High School and College, but one of those differences is that at the college level the student must (outside of labs) must be able to produce results on their own. They are no longer children and should not be treated as such academically. And, even in labs there comes a point when assistance must end and the student walk on their own.

        Walker is wrong in that he should be demanding that Universities should restructure their organizational functioning and the type of tasks assigned to their staff members.

        As for my children: my son who is an Electrical Engineer (on his own) completed AP Calculus in 9th Grade, AP Differential Equations in 10th grade, and the same for Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc. His sisters are a teacher, attorney, and in Computer Science — which results they achieved on their own — albeit after listening in classes to some rather knowledgeable teachers / professors performing their most valuable role — teaching in a class setting and imparting knowledge and making their students think.

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        1. Does this mean that you are willing to pay more for college? In the sciences, a professor’s salary is typically funded by grants for research and not teaching. Requiring professors to spend more time teaching will decrease the time they spend on grant writing and research, which will in turn increase the amount of funding for salaries that must come from other sources.

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    2. Hi Cb, it’s this common misunderstanding about what a professor’s job is that is a large part of the problem. We professors are probably partly at fault for the misunderstanding and certainly, I think many universities have emphasized the teaching role to the public…probably because they believe the public will respond more positively to the teaching contributions of professors. But it simply isn’t true that professors, like HS teachers, are paid to be in the classroom. That might be what many people would prefer our jobs to be but it is not what is written in most of our contracts. My contract (if I remember it right) is 40% teaching, 40% research and 20% service. That teaching includes both undergraduate and graduate teaching – most graduate teaching doesn’t happen in the classroom…it happens one-on-one or in small groups. And a good chunk of my undergraduate teaching time is also spent meeting with students outside of class who are struggling with the material. So, 6 hours a week in class sounds about right although maybe a bit on the high side. What I can say is that in teaching terms (Sept-April) I commit 20-40 hours per week to marking, meeting with students, prep time and in class instruction. There is no doubt that I could reduce the number of assignments (and so reduce marking), eliminate or reduce meeting with students and preparation time and give that time to more time in class but I think that would be to the detriment of the students.
      And the research component gets lost in this because I think it’s less tangible to the public. But most of the medical, environmental, mental health, economic, etc. research is done at universities. I’m not sure that most people understand that the majority of scientists work (i.e. teach and do research) at universities. And the research takes time. (AS an aside, Im a scientist so I have focused on science but some of the great pieces of fiction were and are being written by authors that support(ed) themselves with jobs in university English departments.)
      But the key point here is that, on the facts, you are misinformed – we are not paid simply to be in the classroom. If that’s what the majority of people want – universities to be high school +4 – then they should be actively lobbying to make that happen. But before you do that you should have a plan for getting science done elsewhere or a plan for living in a world where the amount of research that is done is greatly reduced.
      What I can guarantee you is that most of my colleagues are working 50-60 hours a week because they care passionately about their teaching and their research. If the balance strikes you as wrong, that’s a discussion that’s worth having. But there are consequences of shifting more of those 50-60 hours to the classroom. Best, Jeff Houlahan

      PS In Canada I would say that the primary reason for increased tuition is reduced public funding – I’ve never seen research on the issue of classroom time but I would be surprised if university professors are spending less time in the classroom today than they did 40-50 years ago.

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  7. I like the myth of the lazy professor. I also think it’s amazing that we live in a world where we honor people like Scott Walker who make their livings noticing what the rest of us are not doing. Republicans are proof that black holes exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. …One more comment here if I may- With the level of crippling student debt that one must have after obtaining a PHD, and the salary ranges for professors not being even remotely in the echelon of “wealthy”, how could he assume that someone in your position didn’t get there by working hard and being engaged with that position?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It makes you wonder if the good Governor was basing his opinions on his own work load? I commend you for going above and beyond with what you do, not all professors seem to care enough to put in that level of work and commitment (at least not from the outside perspective).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Since there are so many thoughtful individuals on this blog, I thought I would just offer a few comments.

    We all share the same environment. Since the Age of Reagan, the United States has been engaged in a huge transference of wealth out of our civilization. Our 2014 trade deficit was $505 billion. One-half a trillion dollars in wealth transference in just one year! We have been running such deficits for decades now. We have stopped manufacturing the goods of daily living in this country be it shoes, blue jeans, cutlery, pots, pans, towels, etc. I cannot even find an out door water faucet made in this country (even though I would pay 3X the current price). These small individual “drips” have accumulated into a vast river of wealth flowing out of the United States.

    I would bring in at this moment an often quoted but rarely read Scottish Philosopher of the 18th century, Adam Smith. Smith’s observations of human nature in the messy realm of a social science were very insightful. I would venture that every individual posting on this blog (myself included) are all members of Smith’s category of “Unproductive Labor”. As such we are dependent for our wealth on the surplus material wealth created within our civilization. Our ability to support professors, physicians, lawyers, the military, the ministry, actors, etc. is all dependent on created surplus material wealth. It has been true since we left our hunter-gatherer ways and began living in villages and tilling the soil.

    So our predicament rests with this very simple rather metaphorical statement by Smith from Wealth of Nations.

    “A man grows rich by employing a multitude of manufacturers; he grows poor by maintaining a multitude of menial servants.”

    Smith, Adam. Wealth of Nations

    Since we no longer create a surplus of manufactured wealth in this country (with its attendant skill and labor requirements), we can only maintain our “way of life” by assuming debt.

    Scot Walker to me is a personification of the Republican Party as a faction no longer interested in investing so as to create a richer civilization but rather creating ever more opaque strategies (accompanied by mendacious platitudes) to “harvest” the existing wealth and redistribute it within the faction. We are left with an environment of impoverishment and diminished opportunities. This is a cardinal behavior of a Plantation Mentality.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks for this! Walker’s “just work harder” comment is one drop in the bucket of America’s rags-to-riches mythology. Our nation was founded, somewhat misleadingly, on this bootstraps ideology and so the wealthy and elite have always used the “you’re not working hard enough” spiel as a means to belittle and degrade and distract people. His comments are outrageous but not surprising! Which is also an outrage!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I am a graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, under the Helen Bader School of Social Workers. All of my professors who taught me work very hard to provide the materials, links, videos, and hold many class discussions. They also spend time reading and correcting many papers and exams. I once thought one of my professors was crazy for asking us to write 3 papers, give class presentation, take midterm and final exams but at the end, I appreciate it because I learned from them, they are building character. To grow “Social Workers” is not an easy job, you only have so much time in one semester to teach valuable skills, resources, and information. I have nothing but respect for all of my professors at UWM. Scott Walker has not completed his degree at Marquette University and yet, he thinks he knows enough to comment how professors should work harder. I think Scott Walker is sadly mistaken, it is he who needs to work harder and smarter about his own character and ability to run the government. He continues to show through his lack of character that he does not understand how education is operated and valued.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I have reblogged this. Australia just had a budget announcement, and our short-sighted government is cutting funding to education (again). You make excellent and well supported observations. There is an ugly trend towards anti-intellectualism in the Western world, and people need to be made aware of the truth of the matter.

    Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Reblogged this on Cogpunk Steamscribe and commented:
    This is the same situation in Australia. Anyone in the teaching profession is really an iceberg … you might only ‘see’ them working’ a couple of hours a day, but the rest of the time they are beavering away at teaching related tasks. There needs to be MORE money spend on education and the Arts in periods of poor economic growth, to encourage the economy further down the track. Cutting back is false economy, and does our children no favours.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I did my PhD at the UW-Madison. As a TA I was supporting my family (wife+2 kids) at the 33% rate of about 12k/year. Fortunately, we had the pre-Walker health insurance. We also lived off of WIC. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had had to pay for insurance!

    When I was a lecturer and we started to be furloughed, we had to take off a few hours of work per week. Condition: it couldn’t be teaching time. We had to teach, no matter what. We didn’t get paid for prep time.

    I’ve met lazy academics, but not very many. I work now in corporate America, and I see some lazy corporate cube-jockeys. My starting salary was many times more than that 12k I started with in academia! Why not have the Wisconsin corporate workers work harder so that the corporations make more money and give more in taxes to the state?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for calling out Gov. Walker on the “lazy professor” stereotype. I a hope a lot of people read your post.

    Just FYI, the research and publishing expectations for humanities faculty are no less than yours. For tenure, we must publish a well-reviewed book with a reputable press, alongside several articles in peer-reviewed journals, and afterward are expected to publish at least one or two articles per year plus a book every 6-7 years. Because of our teaching and service load, the summer is often the only time we have for research travel and writing. And many of these activities must be supplemented by grants.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I definitely didn’t mean to suggest your work load was less– just that the ratios were a bit different (and it’s hard to comeup with equivalents in terms of, say, books versus articles).

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  17. Another point that often gets lost in the professor bashing: becoming a tenured professor at a top public university like Wisconsin is incredibly competitive: getting into grad school at a top program is competitive, landing the best RA positions is competitive, getting an assistant professor position is ridiculously competitive, publishing in top journals is competitive (5-10% acceptance rates, in my field), getting grants is competitive (5%), and getting outside offers that will get you raises is competitive.

    Conservatives are supposed to like competitive markets, and don’t seem to have any problem coughing up the dough for sports coaches. Yet, when it comes to paying faculty salaries that are nationally competitive among top tier institutions, they conveniently forget all about how markets work. If Walker wants Wisconsin professors to work harder for less money and with fewer resources, he shouldn’t be surprised when the best professors leave and Wisconsin slides into mediocrity. Even if Governor Mediocre doesn’t care, the citizens of Wisconsin should.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Walker has hated the “university system” since he was thrown out of Marquette University as a sophomore for honor code violations. It’s his way to get back at the “smart people” who caught him and would not let him get away with his morally or ethically objectionable behavior. Childish, but he is on a power tip and wants to repay everyone he believes did him wrong; teachers, public employees, the poor, the elderly. So many targets, so little time.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. As a state of Wisconsin employee, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post. I am not employed by the university, but like many state employees, I have felt the repercussions of Governor Walker’s term. I don’t expect anything to change, unless he runs for president and wins. Of course then the whole country would be in trouble!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The whole country would be in trouble and Wisconsin would go from the Walker fire to the Kleefisch frying pan (and remember Becky and Joel – Mr. Ribeye in the sky – are a package deal).

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hey! We have the same problem here in France, except that we are not “well -paid”. Even in my family, people think that since working hours are 8.30 am to 4 .30 pm i have plenty of free time… How wrong when i often leave school after 6 and wake up at 6 every day of the week! One piece of advice for that man: if you think you can do it, do it; otherwise, shut it :p

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  21. I believe this is the interview this is referring to, and if so, the story gets it wrong. The relevant audio starts around 13:45

    In context, Walker says he’s trying to get the state out of meddling in university operations, so he actually trying to get OUT of the business of saying whether professors teach enough. He suggests that it’s university officials that give the impression professors should teach more.

    But he absolutely does not say professors should teach more. He merely says that might be the case, and that the universities need the flexibility to figure out whether it’s true.

    The newspaper report is (unsurprisingly) sensational and misleading.

    http://www.rightwisconsin.com/dailytakes/Walker-Talks-Bucks-Arena-Presidential-Buzz-and-More-290083091.html

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you, Dr. Gill! Very well said! I’ve been a professor for 19 years and my average is about 60 hours per week during the school year and about 40 hours per week in the summer. I definitely do not have summers off! I know I’ve been a positive influence on thousands of college students through my work. Thank you to Dr. Gill and all the other hard-working professors!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you so much for writing this! Scott Walker is such a jerk, and he doesn’t appear to understand the educational system at all. It would be so great for him to shadow a professor and maybe get a dose of reality. Then maybe he would change his tune.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So you should support the proposal he’s discussing here that would keep meddling, misunderstanding jerks like himself out of meddling in the university system 🙂

      But seriously, from the sound of the interview from which the quote seems to be pulled, he’s talking about his proposal to give universities the flexibility to figure out for themselves what reality is, letting the professors and experts have more say since they [hopefully] know best.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Flexibility for themselves? Walker is proposing budgets cuts and that professors take on an increased workload, when they already work 50-60 hours a week or more, much of it on their own time. He’s claiming that professors need to work more “efficiently,” essentially saying that he doesn’t think they’re doing a good enough job or working hard enough, which is stupid because he never even graduated from a university to begin with.

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      2. But Chris it wouldn’t keep the meddling from happening. Rep. Kooyenga already said on WPR that the legislature could step in at any time on tuition if necessary. Remember the people that make one law today and unmake it tomorrow. A public authority guarantees nothing.

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  24. I agree, I’m not a professor, but I know some. I know how hard they work and they put their hearts into their work, at least the ones I know do.
    Good job!

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  25. Is there any good employee, in any field that doesn’t put in time outside of what they are paid for? Why does there always have to be justification from educators on how much they do…I would think that is a given. Nowhere did Governor Walker say that professors are lazy. The University System in our country as a whole is broken…why should students have to pay tuition to only be taught by Teaching Assistants? I applaud the Governor for allowing for change and dialog about improving universities and how students are taught!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Saying that professors need to work harder IS saying they’re not working hard enough. If you want your students taught by faculty and not adjuncts or Teaching Assistants, HIRE MORE PROFESSORS. Cutting $300 million is not going to get you there. Gov. Walker is not changing the dialog or improving universities, he is systematically dismantling them.

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      1. So, I’m not normally a commenter, but I felt compelled to comment on this as a current PhD candidate. I am a teaching assistant with a Master’s in the field I teach as a teaching assistant (TA). I think many individuals forget the important work TAs do. They are professors in training. Degrading the work and teaching of a TA is unfair; it would be in a similar vein to say that we should not have to pay for medical treatment because we were seen by a resident. Residents much like TAs are in training and often highly qualified. However, the point of the articles was about Professors, but it is important to remember that without the contributions TAs make to teaching at a university like UW-Madison, where I am currently getting my PhD, and research, this great institution would not operate.

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        1. I absolutely agree. I think TAs are a crucial part of universities, and the experience is an important part of their training. I don’t think that lecturers should make up the bulk of teaching, especially for the first year or two, and we shouldn’t exploit TA’s any more than adjuncts in the name of “training” (especially not as a stop-gap for replacing lost tenure lines) but universities can’t function with TAs overall.

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    2. You make an excellent point. Why not cut tuition for students that have classes taught by teaching assistants. That way you could make up the loss of that tuition by making the grad students pay full tuition. The university could also save money by getting rid of obsolete programs such as Library Sciences. Books, reference material, etc. are all on line now. More savings. You generalize that the University System in this country is broken. Maybe it is in Wisconsin but there are forty-nine other states in this country that would be happy to accept your students, for out-of-state tuition of course, Personally, I would stay with any in the upper third of the rankings.

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    3. I have worked both as an educator and as a cog in the corporate wheel. The workload doesn’t even compare. So much time is wasted in the private sector, particularly in offices, where you are forced to be there even when you have fulfilled the job requirements for the day….or even the week. It is pure misery for smart people who do their jobs efficiently and feel little need for endless gossip about fantasy football and “The Bachelorette”.

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  26. I grew up with a professor father, and he may have been able to bring his work home with him, but he worked more than most people I know. He put hours into prep each day, painstakingly putting together the next day’s class — and that was when he wasn’t grading! The myth of the lazy professor actually isn’t one I’ve heard before — teachers work hard, and at least in California, in my circles, that is a truth universally acknowledged. I’d wager, however, that the Governor doesn’t work too hard…

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    1. While I appreciate the writing skill of Dr. Gill, I also find it interesting that she has the time to keep coming back to this site 20 times during the day during the last 3 days alone to plead her case. I don’t.

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      1. I moderate blog comments, so I do have to revisit this space. I get email notifications every time someone comments, and can respond via an email. I have maybe spent a cumulative total of ten minutes over three days on this, mostly over breakfast, lunch, and in random other moments of multitasking (right now, I’m waiting for a speaker who is setting up).

        Nice try, though.

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        1. Sorry, perhaps a weak comment, but don’t we all think we work hard? The fact of the matter is, UW tuition costs have gone up an average of 8.5% per year for the last 11 years in a row. That doesn’t track with anybody’s pay increases I am aware of. The fact is, College is becoming less and less affordable. Somebody has to do something to reign in these cost increases. Walker’s comment may have been off base, I don’t know. Is it indicative of the issue? Perhaps some of the people on here can explain to me what the cause of the increases have been, and perhaps we can forward that to the Govn’r so he can focus his cost cutting where it belongs.

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          1. Dave brings up a good point. Tuition is increasing at a much higher rate than inflation or salary increases (faculty and staff salaries being typically the largest chunk of a university’s expenditures). So, tuition is increasing but it isn’t going to those “lazy” “overpaid” professors. So where is is the money going. Part of it is that it is more expensive to run a university than it used to be. A big chunk of the increase at public universities (note that universities are moving away from the term “state-supported”) is cuts from state support. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

            “Overall appropriations on higher education decreased 3.8 percent nationwide between 2007 and 2012, according to the annual Grapevine report, which is put out by researchers at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers group. Declines were more dramatic in some states, including New Hampshire (32.8 percent), Arizona (31.9 percent), and South Carolina (23.8 percent). Because enrollment at most state institutions grew significantly over that time period, the decrease was even more significant when looked at on a per-student level.”

            https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/04/10/public-universities-will-take-more-debt-states-decrease-spending-capital-projects

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          2. It’s really very simple Dave. State appropriations for higher PUBLIC education is being decreased to fund tax holidays for companies that move to those states. Those companies bring their essential workers with them and hirer in-state for lower wages for the jobs they left behind.

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  27. I think the perception is a professors life is relatively laid back in comparison to compensation and when talking about not working hard enough they are looking at it from that angle also.

    An example of someone who works really hard would a physician.
    1. see patients 50 hours per week
    2. paperwork and coordination of care 10 hours per week
    3. hospital meetings 5 hours per week
    4. teaching residents 5 hours per week
    5. research 6 hours per week
    6. taking call overnight 24 hours per week, (two days of call adding 12 hours overnight to a twelve hour day)
    7. having meetings with residents and medical students for guidance or performance 2 hours per week
    8. keeping up with medical literature for teaching and practice 4 hours per week

    total hours worked 106 hours if you nickel and dime everything you do like talking to residents/medical students and keeping up with literature “preparing for lectures”

    Against the backdrop–if you have bad clinical outcome on just one patient along the way you can get sued for millions of dollars

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      1. So, John works 106 hours. I usually work over 60 (am a department chair) but only make $66,000 per year. Given the difference in the ratio of our hours if I calculate mine at a conservative 60, this doctor must make $116,600 to be fairly compensated at my same rate. My guess is that I have more years of post-graduate training than John does. I am also guessing he makes substantially more than $116,600 (national average for family practice physician salary = $183,175) Even the low limit of the 90% CI is $141,000. I am not saying that he is overcompensated. But he should know the perspective from which he is viewing this issue. And those residents are being trained by me at the undergraduate level which equips them to go on and excel (I teach biology). Perhaps John should have attended a liberal arts college where he would have learned some critical thinking skills.

        Jacquelyn, enjoyed your post.

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        1. So critical thinking is taking the number of hours you work, matching it to what someones salary is based on the number of hours the other person has worked without taking into account the differences between the two professions. Differences such as the cost of education between the two professions, the level of stress and responsibility between your two professions, the cost of being in the other persons profession compared to your own, the potential occupational hazards between your two professions etc. Wow I am really impressed with your critical thinking and your ability google statistics.

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          1. Just curious as to what type of occupational hazards do physicians have in your mind? Stabbing themselves with their needles or scalpels? As an ecologists working on African savannas, I have the risk of being attacked by wild animals every time I’m in the field. Or if you want to talk about hazards, I think fire fighters and construction workers have more occupational hazards (and physical stress) than physicians. Shouldn’t they be better compensated than family doctors? Can we get off the high horse, please?

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          2. occupational hazards include, hiv, hep c, influenza virus, ebola, C diff colitis, staph aureus, etc and some of this stuff you can bring home to your family. stabbing yourself with needle is one route, cutting yourself putting hardware fixing someones broken leg, lacerating your hand with a scalpel etc.

            The point is not the occupational hazard thing. I have an alphabet soup of letters after my name just like paul, I am as educated as he is I presented a different view or idea and what was his response. He presented a narrow method of looking at something, essentially one dimension. If I get paid x dollars for y hours and you work z hours then your salary should be x*z/y. He then presumed he was more educated than I was and insulted my education and states I need to learn critical thinking skill.

            His response stinks of the typical stereotype of snobby professor who is stuck in university atmosphere la-la land without any real idea of what is going on in the real world.

            And the author of the open letter gets excited about his comment.

            The real point is the cost of higher education is a broken system. The rate of inflation for higher education is more than the CPI. What causes this I don’t know. It probably is not the salaries of professors based on the chorus of complaints I here from friends in higher education. Is it administrators who have swept in and taken a chunk of the money out for attending bullshit meetings. Is it all the new buildings being put up around campus, is it pension fund liability who knows?
            The cost needs to be contained. I would recommend you sit around the dinner table with policymakers with real solutions because if you are not at the dinner table you may be on the menu as Governor Walker pointed out.

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          3. John, I was simply responding to your initial argument which was one made wholly on the number of hours worked. You laid the ground rules for the conversation when that was your sole focus. I too have a hazardous job (hospitalized twice for mishaps in the field; I am an ecologist). I am not saying that you don’t work hard or that there are not other costs that you as a physician have that I as a professor don’t (although the threat of litigation is higher no in my profession than it has ever been) although I have costs that are unique to my profession, I was simply taking issue with your one-dimensional argument and finding its flaws.

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        1. I couldn’t think of any other way to lay out exactly what a week in the life of a professor is like. There are so many misconceptions about our labor (one is that we only work a few hours a week), and I see them over and over again. I tried to bust the myth as effectively as I could.

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  28. The future of education is not the university. Online modules are rapidly becoming a source for people to gaining secondary education knowledge without stepping foot on a college campus. Best to do anything you can now to convince people that this is an institution worth preserving. That being said, from my perspective on the liberal arts side of things (and I worked very closely with professors as a Graduate Assistant for both my undergrad and law school professors) the tenured/tenure track professorship is one of the cushiest jobs I can think of when evaluating pay versus workload. You have to do extra research and learning? Well, that sounds like . . . every other professional job I know of. Though in those other instances you don’t get to count that as your “work.” You have to “meet” with students. Yeah, we all know that that’s code for 50 minutes of coffee and making fun of the president followed by 5 minutes of “how are things going.” I love how you thrown in your blog and twitter as part of your work week too. The rest of the world considers that down time. Give me a break.

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    1. Online modules give you sufficient education for introductory classes (basically the first two years of an undergraduate education). This is because, in the language of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the “remember” and “understand” pieces are really about one-way information transfer. For higher-level classes that teach the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the information flows in two directions much more than the first two or three levels. As such, the online model will not work for this (and the experience of MOOCs is already showing this pretty clearly).

      As far as how “cushy” the job of a professor is, it’s pretty clear that you have had negative experiences about this, but I think you’re missing some important pieces of the economics of large-scale research universities. For instance, you can take the University at Buffalo where I work. Our operating budget is around $680M. We bring in $360M in research funds every year. So, roughly half of our operating budget comes from research grants. That’s just the bare cost of the university operation itself.

      I can tell you from experience that the majority of people bringing in those $360M work their fingers to the bone every day. It’s not to say that other fields don’t also, of course, but trust me when I say that professors earn their cash, and then some (especially compared to their peers in other industries). There is no time left in their days to “work harder”, so what will happen is that the research funding being brought in will decrease.

      Frankly speaking, from an economic perspective, Walker’s decision is a monumentally stupid business decision. To say nothing about the secondary impacts (fewer students graduating with cutting-edge research skills to bring money into the state, wider gap between rich and poor, innovative technologies lying stagnant, medical research falling behind, fewer doctors being trained, etc), it is just a poor business choice about how to run a university. Considering that we professors get paid 67% of our salary for teaching and 33% for research, it’s actually such that the research we do has MORE economic impact on the institution than our teaching, which we already spend most of our time doing.

      None of this is surprising, of course. Walker is one of the true anti-intellectuals of the nation that seem to resonate with a large percentage of the population who, quite frankly, are falling behind in economic capability because they aren’t able to keep up with the 21st century economy. It has nothing to do with “liberal vs conservative” or “small government versus big government”, it has to do with advancing technology and innovation. Time and time again, the data show that universities have a HUGE economic impact on these fields, so cutting university will have one inexorable and predictable conclusion : we will continue to fall behind in economic viability.

      In short, Walker’s decision is astonishingly, breathtakingly, and monumentally stupid. It has devastating near-term and long-term impacts. I can only hope that Wisconsin can pull out of this mire that he has placed them in.

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      1. Yes MOOCs (and similar strategies) are going to necessarily stuck at the foundational levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. But the ultimate goals of those programs are to find new forums (like apprenticeships) for application, analysis, creation, and evaluation where learners are paid (or at least don’t have to pay) for their time in a very real world setting. The reality is that the days of the University operating on the scale it is today are inevitably numbered. Not to recognize this is just burying one’s head in the sand.

        The debate on how hard professors work is really a moot point. All we’re doing (and all the author brings to the table) are comparing anecdotal experiences and observations. None of it is conclusive. Of course some professors work their fingers to the bone, but even some of those do so out of sheer personal motivation/desire to accomplish certain goals and COULD teach more in light of what their current job description contains. Then there are those who do not do much outside of lecturing, “grading,” and going home.

        I personally have zero dog in this fight. The author, and you, speak from a position of vested interest. Nobody likes to be told they can work more. The more the job (like professor) is one a normal person can’t get with a good application and a good smile, the more those on the inside can posture a defensive position that doesn’t adequately reflect the reality of labor. When you are coming from that position, it’s hard to acknowledge the truth of the other side that there is, indeed, more that can be done.

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        1. With respect, I think you’ve missed the point. I am not actually comparing anecdotal evidence, I’m comparing economic impact. Tuition and research both bring approximately half of the cost into a university. More time in teaching means less time in research, and since it is a zero-sum game, this will drastically affect the bottom line of university budgets and will hamper economic growth by a large factor. That’s not an anecdote, that’s an analysis.

          As far as the skill set required : there is zero chance that the “average” person can do my job or that of a faculty member in any other STEM field, nice application and nice smile notwithstanding. A STEM field (like mine, physics) requires 15-20 years of intensive study, learning, and research to be sufficiently expert to be a faculty at a research institution.

          For instance, in my field, you would need a fundamental knowledge of relativistic quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, the electroweak interaction, the strong interaction, modeling beyond the known laws of physics, as well as the ability to design, construct, understand, and analyze micrometer-precision detection and data acquisition devices, as well as requisite knowledge in algorithmic development, database programming, statistical analysis, visualization, and scientific communication. That’s all BEFORE I get to teach anyone about Newton’s laws, electromagnetic waves, quantum mechanics, diffusion, heat equations, computational physics, classical dynamics, Lagrangians, harmonic oscillators, etc.

          Would you be able to do this job without devoting a couple of decades to the endeavor? Then you’re certainly a lot smarter than anyone else I’ve ever met. I have no idea who you are or what you do, but you must be an astonishingly accomplished person if this all seems like you could walk in and do it right now!

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          1. I missed no point. It is only a zero sum game for any professor who already is, genuinely, booked solid. At the level we are debating whether or not the average professor’s schedule really is as packed as you portray it, we are both relying on anecdotal evidence.

            You are the one who missed my point. A professorship is NOT something the average Joe can get. People tend to get defensive about these positions, and it’s a comfortable place to be defensive from because not everyone can say it was a job they’ve done in the past.

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          2. If you don’t believe me, then we don’t really have any ground to stand on, unless you take me up on my offer to shadow me for a week. But calling me a liar isn’t an argument, either.

            I hope you get to know some of us personally one day. We can be defensive about these positions because higher education is under attack. If your livelihood was similarly vilified, you might feel the same way.

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      2. Very true Sal. Though I do take exception with your statement about the ‘versus’ part. That’s how they get elected. These ‘Medicine Shows’ play to an audience with a “promise” of lower taxes, that’s a gut issue. “You work hard for your money so you should be able to keep more of it!” The citizenry that elects these charlatans sees the cuts in the budget and feels satiated.
        that feeling is coming from their mind immediately. By the time they actually could answer the question, “Did you get to keep more of your ‘hard-earned’ money?” The wagon has moved on to the next town. Besides, most don’t even look to see if they did. P. T. Barnum was right. Best part is they get reborn every election year.

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    2. Really? I don’t want a doctor working on me who had all his classes online. Who are you to evaluate the value of pay vs. workload? I’ve met with my professors and was glad of the advice and knowledge gained, and the opportunity to ask one-on-one questions – it never involved coffee or president-bashing.

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      1. Really? Can you tell me the difference between a doctor who sat in a lecture hall and a doctor who sat at home if they have demonstrated the exact same knowledge through medical and board examinations and have the exact same hands on training via in-hospital internship/residency? Didn’t think so.

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  29. I imagine there would be a great deal of harrumphing and hurt looks if some powerful holder of purse-strings were to say, “These governors need to work harder. They just lounge about their ivory legislatures, giving quick press conferences and not contributing at all to the regional economy while sucking up great pay and benefits.”

    As you say in a previous comment, it’s not about pitting one against another; it’s about admitting the true effort put in and, ideally, rewarding that effort appropriately.

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  30. I am also a thirty something professor working my ass off so I will be able to coast it for the second half of my life in a comfortable tenured position with all the perks that come with it.

    If this wasn’t such an attractive prospect do you really think I would bother working so hard during my youthful years?

    Unbelievable!

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    1. Nice article. I hope that the world we live in will be blessed with increasing justice. God can give back and reward those who contribute to their people. Professors and teachers especially ,who work from their heart and put good effort , deserve to be rewarded whether financially or socially. Professors are educating people so that the world we live in would advance in every way whether scientifically, technologically, spiritually and economically.
      I hope that our world will get better and better.

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  31. I prefer not to be one of “those” people, but the rest of us are having to work harder with often no extra pay or even less.

    How come the public sector – specifically those in education – can’t do the same?

    To be fair, I live in Illinois, where the constant demand for more money for education is sounded everyday. I often wonder why they simply can’t make do with less – like the rest of us peons are expected to do.

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    1. The purpose of this is not to pit people against one another. There are many ways to work hard– with your body, your mind, in stressful conditions, on your feet, with emotionally demanding work. I’m not going to belittle your effort, but having worked both in academic and no academic jobs, I can tell you that personally, the work I do know is harder (but much more rewarding). It’s less time on my feet, but the hours are long, the work difficult, and stress levels are often high. Yet it’s also less hard for me, in a way, because I love it. So until you’ve done both, you can’t really comment on which is harder.

      I never said other people don’t work hard. I said professors do.

      Why should we make do with less? Why can’t everyone have more? The math works out– it’s just that people with different values are making the financial calls. Instead of asking me to give up hard-earned benefits, why not demand those for yourself?

      One thing you also have to remember is that academics went to school for 10-15 years before they got positions (and school teachers at least 6). We have student loans and opportunity costs (no house, no capital, lots of debt, no retirement) when we start our positions. That training doesn’t make us better than other people, but it’s certainly a reason to expect a commensurate salary and benefits. Especially because we perform a service to our state– we train students, we serve the public. If I wanted to make money, I’d be doing something else. I could make over twice what I do in the private sector, and work fewer hours.

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      1. She never said other people are not working hard!!! She described what professors do so people will understand being in the classroom is only part (officially 40% including prep time) of what profs do. And at a state university, it is our non-teaching productivity that counts, not the quality of our teaching.

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  32. Hi, Jacquelyn, I’m glad you also mentioned research grants and the 46% overhead/indirect costs. I don’t think everyone realizes how much of an economic impact a tenured/tenure track research professors has. You bring in federal dollars, which are usually spent on salary for grad students and post docs and staff. You buy equipment, material, and the university gets nearly half anyway in indirect costs. Your research might generate a patent (which might be allowed owned by the university), or a discovery, or your postdoc might start a company, etc. Just “teaching an extra class” is such a bad thing to say and a very unwise proposal.

    Meanwhile, Scott Walker still draws a salary as governor while he mostly travels around the US looking to start he presidential campaign

    Anyway, I enjoyed your post

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I absolutely love this post, and tip my hat to you. Well, I would if I were wearing one.

    I have always been so irritated when I hear people say professors and teachers are lazy, or imply that they don’t have a lot to do. It’s ridiculous, and it trivializes all of the years of schooling it took to obtain that position. Plus, there are the daily trials and tribulations of dealing with ungrateful students, angry parents, and mounds of paperwork.

    Professors are from lazy, even the worst of them.

    http://www.triskelereviews.com/

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  34. Yes, colleges’ budgets could be cut. But rather than having faculty teach more classes, most colleges could stand to lose some administrators. Hiring administrators who have nothing at all to do with the classroom is likely a key reason for the rise in college costs.

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    1. I’ve been a faculty member at R1 (that’s high research intensive) institutions for 27 years; after 25 years as a faculty member and no friend of university administrators, I moved into an administrative position. Perhaps colleges could stand to lose some administrators. But, then, who would carry out the myriad unfunded state and federal mandates for everything from drivers’ training (to reduce institutions’ liability when a faculty member drives from St. Louis to Chicago save money, rather buying buying an airline ticket, to attend a professional meeting) to Title IX to sexual harassment to ethics. and beyond? And then there is faculty development, research support, grants administration, budget management, technology systems upgrades, student grade appeals, accrediting agency-required program evaluations and student assessment systems, annual faculty evaluations, and writing up, vetting, and implementing policies that guide various functions at the college level. Some of these things get funneled to faculty committees at university, college, and department/program levels. But, someone has to do the funneling, providing guidance, interpreting policies, and “jointly” governing the institution (at least that’s how it works at a joint governance institution like mine — faculty and administration working together to run the place). Most institutions’ offices — deans, provosts, vice-presidents, even presidents’ — run with pretty lean staffing. I know that I could stand to hire a few more support people to — not support me but — support the hardworking faculty that I work with every day and help them to be even more productive and successful than they are. If only I had an adequate budget to do so.

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  35. From a fellow assistant prof in Maine (UNE!), I am grateful for your breakdown. So many people, often our own students included, have no idea what it is that we do all day (and night!). Many similarly have no idea how many innovations have come from “high risk, high reward” scientific endeavors that private industry never would have funded. Well said!

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    1. As a former high school and elementary teacher, I always tell people that our governor and all those who think teachers at any level are lazy or undeserving should actually be put in the classroom as a teacher for a month. After a month, I think there is no doubt they would change their tune as they struggle with planning interesting lessons, maintaining classroom discipline, grading and commenting on papers, preparing grades for report cards, going to meetings, often dealing with parents or school administration, and so on. Teaching is rewarding because it takes every ounce of intelligence and gumption one has, and sometimes it is clear that all the work pays off. When that is not clear, the teacher keeps trying. Teaching is not for the faint of heart.

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    1. Well done! Well said! It’s a shame many individuals in the public eye feel the need to rally our workers to increase our rate and performance. How about they keep the promises they make to get elected. Imagine that if they worked to do what they promised we wouldn’t have to struggle to counter act there stupid attacks. Frustrated teacher

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    2. There is no such thing as a lazy person, only an uninspired one. Take a typical Saturday….

      UNINSPIRED: “I’m not really a Star Trek fan but it’s raining outside and the sofa is so warm. Might as well watch the whole marathon.”

      INSPIRED: “Holy crap, Mila Kunis is handing out free iPhones at the new electronics store down the block? Where are my shoes?”

      This is not the same as motivation, which is simply taking action to avoid unsavory consequences.

      MOTIVATION: “I can’t go, dude. She says she’s not showing with me ever again until I finish remodeling the basement.”

      Everyone’s got their cut off point between action and inaction. If a person isn’t moving, it has nothing to do with character, only with opportunity. A free iPhone wouldn’t get my ass off the sofa cushions but tell me I can have your new table saw and just see how fast my legs can move.

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  36. I’m a Professor of English and University Studies at Portland State U., now in my 50th year. I could’ve sat back and retired 15 years ago and received more $$$/month. But I’d miss my students–we have so much to say to each other, so many surprises for each other. I wasn’t born to sit in a rocking chair and wallow. Last night/this morning at 12:30 a.m. I read the last paper from my 40 students in my freshman inquiry (inter-disciplinary) class. I write back, I scroll their papers into my 50s Kolibri/Groma typewriter and reply beyond what I’ve scribbled in the margins. Perhaps I spend half an hour on each paper, more in some cases, less in each others. I get to know them as individuals and how to nourish them. This is my life. It isn’t about ease and TGIF, as Wendell Berry talks about how work commonly is viewed. If there was an 8th day in the week it would be handy. Tell me to teach another class–I’m already doing that (two of them actually, one on Dante at the Unitarian Church, the other with several writers from last term who are carrying on. I also write: articles, novels, short fiction. I journal, I reflect, it’s all grist for the mill. True, I’ve known teachers who take it easy; not many these days. My teachers at U. Nebraska and Northwestern inspired me, Charles Tiebout in Economics, Ney McMinn in English, William McGovern in PolyPsi, Paul Olson, Dudley Bailey, and O. K. Bouwsma at Nebraska, wisdom figures. I have figures here too who show me the way, Natalie Vasey in Anthropology, Annabelle Dolidon in French, Paul Collins in English, Robert Mercer in Advising, along with Loretta Stinson, so many. They keep the boat afloat. Anyone who would look at my hours in the classroom as my work (all my work) is ignorant of our profession. “Reductive” is a word I’ve been using lately, over-simplification. The quick fix, the scapegoat, and you get votes. Not mine.

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  37. I love your letter, Jacquelyn, and couldn’t have said it better myself. My husband is a professor at UW and chair of his department. So in addition to all the things you mention in your letter, he spends countless hours on budgets, reports and trying to figure out how his department can continue to provide high-quality education to students and service to the university and the broader Wisconsin community. He often works evenings and weekends, has never been able to take all his vacation and sometimes brings work with him when we do get away. You won’t change the Governor’s mind, but you will hopefully enlighten many others who have no understanding of what university faculty really do. Thank you.

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  38. Tiens, c’est curieux de voir les mêmes arguments en langue anglaise ! Comme quoi les préjugés traversent les océans… Très difficile ici aussi de faire comprendre ce qu’est vraiment notre métier, ce qui fait qu’à 22h on est encore en train de travailler, parce que tout cela ne se “voit” pas.

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  39. Great letter and exceptionally thoughtful responses to comments. You have done all of us a favor. Thank you.
    I would be the first to admit that I am personally well-paid and secure (as a science full professor) but that this is by no means typical, but that making me less-well paid or more insecure is not going to improve the lives of those adjuncts and humanities professors who work hard for less. All faculty are working VERY hard unless they are the few notorious instances of “deadwood” to be found in every university (often burnt out and demoralized) — ok, give these folks some retirement incentives and hire more (not fewer) tenure track, eager, engaged folks — like you! — and appreciate their work so they don’t become demoralized and defeated by ever increasing work and decreasing rewards (including appreciation for all that work). Tell people long enough that they only work 20 hours a week and perhaps a tiny minority will try to do so.

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  40. Sorry, but you are preaching to the choir. If you expect this “big and bold moves” college drop out to read your reply to his anti-education comments and actually agree with you, hell will freeze over first. Walker is only looking to magnify his name and views to enter the Presidential running and nothing more. This state as a whole works more than Walker ever will. Appreciate your post but it will fall on deaf ears.

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    1. If I only wanted Walker to read it, it wouldn’t have been an open letter. I’m not expecting this to make s difference to him, but if it helps bust the myth to folks who hear his words and think they’re an accurate depiction of academia, then I’ll be happy.

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      1. Thank you for writing this for all of us! You are right, Scott Walker is irrelevant. The strategy of scapegoating faculty is not.

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  41. Americans in general work more days per year and longer hours per day than people in other developed countries. Anyone who offers “work harder” as a solution is suspect to start with.

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  42. A wonderful piece and an excellent description of faculty work at a research intensive highly regarded state university. The ignorance of Gov Walker’s remarks are frightening.

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  43. Dear Ms. Gill. Professors need to reframe and get better at public relations to eliminate the myth. Your article was excellent. The big money is not in the academic or staff positions, but in administration, so you should look there to increase your income. Much like lawyers and physicians, administrators protect each other, so the pay rates far exceed the private sector and are not value rated or based.

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  44. This is exactly the same in the federal research sector. Government researches have long been demonized as lazy bureaucrats though many of us work 50-80 hour work weeks of proposal writing (yes we have to write proposals too), research, committees, outreach, responding to congressional and executive “data calls,” extensive travel, and working as a small cog in a major project. Oh, and it is illegal for us to write letters like this due the Hatch act.

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    1. Really?

      If you expect sympathy from us part-time employed paupers in the private sector about your “50-80” hour work week while receiving an impressive salary and incredible benefits, it is falling on deaf ears.

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      1. I’m not expecting sympathy. I’m expecting you to know that we earn that money (and those benefits, especially given that most of the benefits were negotiated in lieu of raises), and don’t feel entitled to them without cause. I’m not asking for more; I’m asking to not have our contributions belittled or disrespected.

        It sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder. You could try taking it off and retreading with fresh eyes.

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      2. Like academia, government employees make less money with few to no options for bonuses than employees with equivalent experience in industry. The “incredible benefits” are only for employees hired before 1983 everyone else has retirement similar to typical 401(k) and typical rates for health insurance. I am delighted to have a meaningful full-time job, but we are not overpaid, there are no incredible benefits anymore, and we work hard. I am also not looking for sympathy, but not to be demonized as a lazy overpaid bureaucrat.

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  45. I wish someone would explain to me why he hates education, and specifically teachers. He and others who bash education need to get into the schools and see how things have changed ! They need to work with us not against us if this is ever going to get better.

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  46. What “well paid”? Currently the average college tenure-track assistant professor with a PhD in the US starts with a salary in the low 50s. (As an adjunct, I get paid 3K per class/per semester with no benefits; less than my sad grad student salary of 1,200 per month [sept-may] with health insurance) While 50K might sound nice, an engineer (like my brother) with a BA, and sometimes other people working in technology (like my friend’s son) in the right company, and right city with an associate degree are making more than this (90k and 70k respectively). Let’s also not forget that many “young” professors will also have big loans to pay after graduation, especially with the disappearance of subsidized loans.

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    1. Starting salary is low, but we do have significant opportunities for advancement on the tenure track, if you make it to tenure and full. That is more than my parents make, and more than I would have made as a retail manager, which is what I was working toward before school. I think we need to be careful when we talk about our plight as faculty (acknowledging that adjuncting is a separate issue) because we do have a lot of privilege compared with the working class (affordable health care, flexibility, decent pay). And, as I said, we’re not well paid compared with counterparts in the private sector.

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      1. This is a great post, but as the comment above indicates, the majority of college professors today are not on the tenure track, nor are we paid well, nor do we have any benefits or job security, but we also work very hard. Most of us will never make it to the full time, tenure track world because those positions are going away. This makes the claim that professors should work harder even more ridiculous. How many professors in Wisconsin are paid on a full time, benefitted scale, and how many have incomes that cap out under $30,000?

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        1. I’d really like to see the numbers before I comment on this further. At the four institutions I have direct experience with (College of the Atlantic, University of Wisconsin, Brown University, and University of Maine) adjuncts do not make up the majority of college professors (and Walker was referring to the University of Wisconsin system specifically). To be clear, I agree that the adjuncting situation is terrible and that adjuncts are exploited stop-gaps to larger budgetary issues, and that replacing tenure-track lines with adjuncts is an awful practice that undermines research and education and it needs to stop. But I also think that’s a different conversation than the one I’m talking about, to an extent (though it certainly falls under the category of “work harder” is an inappropriate sentiment).

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          1. But does that include community colleges, or teaching assistants? Again, I’m not trying to belittle the plight of adjuncts, but I think that’s slightly a different discussion than the one I’m having. The examples people are holding up are the $160,000-a-year tenured professor publishing in an “obscure” journal. I don’t think it’s appropriate to call those folks “lazy” either.

            But yes, definitely. It’s a problem and most people in the general public don’t know it exists.

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  47. I have no problem with dispassionate research. I believe that it one of the hallmarks of the western civilization. It is the same desire the Greeks had. To conquer the world through knowing it. But I have to say that after spending some time in a few institutes of learning and seeing first hand how some professors spend their time, Governor Walker is right to ask they get back to work. Professors who have devoted a life to a discipline removed from politics, economic policy and foreign affairs yet spend an inordinate amount of time babbling over them like they have clue what it is they are talking about has grown wearisome. So, please get back to the lab or classroom and get to work furthering your chosen area of study.

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    1. I’m confused by this comment. If being in a profession that doesn’t involve politics, economic policy or foreign affairs means that one is precluded from having an opinion about those topics, then is the inverse not also true? If you are not a scientist or an academic, but are instead a politician, does that mean that you are not allowed to discuss or rule on matters affecting academic research and endeavor?

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      1. Not at all. I have the same problem with academics spouting off on things they have little to now knowledge of and less training that I do with actors and business people. It is using the platform of their profession to drown out smaller voices. I know a Professor that regularly uses his academic credentials to gather a large audience to spew his ideas and ideals on public and foreign policy despite the fact his discipline is biology. He has no training in public policy and even less in foreign policy, yet his voice is given greater weight because of his academic standing.

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  48. You do the Gill name proud. I couldn’t have said it better myself (from a fellow physical geographer Gill). Huzzah.
    To be fair, and to provide a counterpoint: I did discuss this with a very conservative colleague: she basically said, “Walker is right, we could take on higher teaching loads every semester. Just be like me! Cut every possible corner to minimize preparing for your classes and marking assignments, don’t take on time-sucking graduate students, completely refuse to attend any meetings or participate in any committees, and you’re a sucker if you ever waste time on stuff you don’t get paid for like reviewing other people’s manuscripts and grant proposals. We could indeed teach more classes that way.” Of course this person is a full professor. Wonder how long universities as we know them would last that way… would basically turn universities in to extensions of community colleges, which apparently is what Walker wants to do after all!

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  49. Thank you for writing this, it is so well articulated without falling into the (sometimes tempting) trap of debating the political issues surrounding this recent announcement. I would extend your myth-busting to teachers at all levels, who have received particularly harsh treatment by the news media in recent years. Although specifics of the demands on teachers’ time differ based on the institutions where they work, it is a profession filled with hard-working, dedicated men and women who deserve our respect and support.

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  50. So, what should we do about the many tenured professors who only teach one class (and stink at teaching), have complete job security and benefits, and who spend their time publishing articles that nobody reads (such as “Nietzschean Interpretations and the Law of Hearsay in Wilhelmian Germany”, published in a recent law review)??? Are you really telling me that professors like this should continue to collect $160,000 a year??

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    1. You’re giving one example with incomplete information, so I’m not going to comment except to say that just because something isn’t in our area of expertise, or its utility immediately obvious, doesn’t mean it’s not important or useful, especially in context. It’s easy to cherry pick articles that sound silly, but that doesn’t mean the work is. And I’m not interested in arguing about the merits straw professors.

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      1. Your response, Jacquelyn, reminds me of the best line from Ghostbusters, uttered by Dan Aykroyd’s character, the professor of parapsychology: “Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*.”

        Monique tossed you a softball of a question, where the easy and correct answer is “No, that professor should not continue to collect a $160K paycheck.” She already told you that this professor only teaches one class a year, is awful at teaching, and publishes scholarship that nobody reads, yet this is “insufficient information” to make a determination whether said professor should continue to collect a huge paycheck.

        No Jacquelyn, just because someone thinks his/her scholarship is important (and can find 2 other academics publishing the same obscure, niche field scholarship who will vouch that this is important) doesn’t mean it actually is important, and certainly doesn’t justify increasing taxes and tuition to subsidize, just as how not every artist who splatters paint on a canvas has the right to label it important “art” and then demand a public subsidy to keep producing more of it.

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        1. Monique (and you) gave me a straw argument. It’s a slippery slope to the kinds of statements Monique made to statements like Sarah Palin’s comments about fruit fly research, or attacks on the humanities, or Rick Scott deciding the entire field of Anthropology should be cut. It’s foolish and short-sighted and, frankly, ignorant, to think that all research fields should have strong applied research with obvious ties to business, medicine, or industry.

          Professors in the liberal arts aren’t new, and to point to them as the cause of tuition and tax increases is patently false. Many faculty are making the same money they made before the budget crisis. Many departments have had hiring freezes, so that they haven’t replaced lost or retired faculty. Professors are not to blame for the budget crisis, and there are no data in the world that will support that argument. Full stop.

          And Walker didn’t say that one or two hypothetical, aging professors nearing retirement laboring away at obscure topics should be given incentives to retire so that we can open opportunities for new, fresh blood and ideas. He said “professors should work harder.” That is what my letter responds to.

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          1. Education in the liberal arts develops critical thinking skills and the ability to spot straw men and not be suckered into those debates that are not meant to further dialog but rather to end rational discourse. But three lines in a comments section on a blog will not develop critical thinking skills in these people either.

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    2. If you think professors make that much, you are insane. Look at the public colleges… UW and Tech school salaries are public.

      English professors average 30k-100k.

      I am one of those professors. I teach a 7/6 course load. That’s 11 more than the mythical 2 per year. I also take on an average of five extra courses per year. That’s about 150 students per semester, each writing around four papers. So, not counting smaller work, I’m grading 600 papers a semester (15 weeks long) and do not take more than two weeks to return grades.

      In addition to this we are required to serve on multiple committees, complete research, get published, take courses to stay current, and develop curriculum.

      Many of us serve as advisors to program students, club advisors and serve on committees… All for no extra pay.

      How, again, is that lazy? For every one stereotypical professor you’ve mentioned, there are 50 like myself.

      Tenure is not a safety blanket anymore.

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  51. Bravo! The misconceptions about faculty workloads are legion. Thank you. As an English prof with a heavy admin load, the distribution is a bit different for me, but the totals are about the same. And I love your PS.

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  52. Thank you for taking time out of your week to write this. I will be pointing folks here who question the salaries of professors and infer that these costs are the cause of tuition increases. I also appreciate a personal connection – born in Madison (both my parents did their master’s programs there), raised in Orono (my dad worked in water resources, then as a science journalist)! Thank you for all you do.

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    1. Worse than that, the self-governance Walker is proposing is actually a political maneuver.

      “Walker attempts to sweeten the cuts by spinning off the system as a self-governing “public authority” similar to a port authority. The Board of Regents appointed by the governor would be the governing body and the legislature and the public would have less of a role in protecting academic freedom and other statutory rights.”

      So instead of it being self-governed, it’ll have oversight from a board appointed by the governor. Right now, that’s Walker, so it’d be people he wants in to fulfill his agenda. The same could very well happen with any other governor coming in.

      Talk about really screwing people…”Yeah, listen, you can do what you like, as long as you follow what the board I put in place tells you to do, with the budget I mandate they use…”

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  53. What job security? I am one of a growing rank of adjuncts who works four jobs. So I’m going back to school (while still working four jobs) to get a job in the medical field. I loved helping people learn to write. But I’m not making enough to live on. And I also love helping people in other ways so I don’t at all regret my new career choice but I do regret that life for many instructors is this way. The state of the current university is such a mess that I can’t afford not to get out.

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  54. Remember how Scotty Walker got where he is, by failing out of freshman economics and being kicked out of Marquette University. His first election was the student government election where he lost and then was reprimanded for committing vote fraud.

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  55. Beautifully articulated; thank you.

    Yes, administrative costs at universities are in large measure supported on the backs of faculty who work to obtain extramural grants, often to the tune of 40–50% overhead on those grants. Walker’s ridiculous “teach more” statement illustrates profound ignorance in the structure and functioning of research universities like UW. If professors there taught an additional class each, it would greatly cut into their ability to successfully compete for those grants, thereby reducing revenue for the University. How to make up the difference? Raise tuition, of course.

    It’s bad enough that a modern professor at a research institution must money-grub to help keep the lights on while adjuncts and grad students teach classes at an equivalent rate way below minimum wage. The money saved by switching that teaching back to professors would be dwarfed by the reduction in research money coming in.

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  56. This is brilliant! I love the idea of inviting Gov. Walker to shadow a professor. The only thing I’d change is your perception that grant-writing and research loads are reduced in the humanities because we have slightly higher teaching loads. I’m tenure-track faculty in English literature at a state R1. I teach 2/2 and am still required to research, write, and publish a book with a reputable university press, plus 6 to 10 articles for promotion (to associate, and then again to full professor). Since my scholarship is based almost entirely on archival research, I am constantly applying for grants to travel to rare book archives all over the world in order to do my research. Since I cannot be in the British Library and on campus teaching at the same time, I spend all of my vacations–Summer, winter break, spring break, thanksgiving break, fall break–at rare book archives doing research. Holidays? What are those? In addition to all my service to the university (I serve on several administrative committees in the college and university, as well as within my department), I also organize a lecture series and symposium on campus, and so am constantly applying for funding within our institution in order to be able to bring talented and distinguished thinkers and writers to our (somewhat remote) campus, to help us rethink the role of literature in society, inspire our students and future teachers, and share their innovations in research and thinking with us. When I go home at night, I continue to answer emails, grade, prep for teaching, and do my own writing until it’s time for bed. I’ve been trying to allow myself one day off from work per week, but I usually end up answering emails and playing catch-up on that weekend day as well, could say much more, but I have to prep for class, meet with two students, attend a faculty meeting, get started on a conference paper, and turn in two grant proposals today.

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    1. Thanks for your perspective! It’s not my perception as much as it is my interaction with folks in other programs, but you’re absolutely right — there’s a lot of work no matter how you split it!

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  57. Tax thieves! By the looks of it, a politician works 2 hours a week, max. That’s how much I see them on TV. Because it is safe to assume that people only work if you see them work, I insist the taxpayers get more from politicians. Either they should appear on TV 40 hours a week, or take a second job clerking at the drugstore.

    In addition, no one should question what changed in the education equation such that education costs are rising out of balance with other costs. Cutting education funding and shifting costs to parents is too obvious, so don’t bring it up. Otherwise we’ll be talking about the role of governments! If anything has been proven, it’s that governments should give people fewer services. However, discussing the role of goverent would bring politicians more air time, thereby increasing their productivity. So I guess I’m wrong. Let’s increase productivity for those lazy “2-hours or less” politicians. Cuz whoa, talk about tax thieves. Hey politicians, could you bump up your productiv5ity to 2.5 hours a week?! Heaven save us from these lazy public “servants”. I wish I could work 2 hours a week and bring home what they do.

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  58. This is so, so well written. I am an undergrad Evolutionary Biology major currently at UW Madison and the news of the first budget cuts, and then the proposed cuts to the DNR, are truly heartbreaking. After 3.5 years here, I have never encountered a lazy professor, especially in a science course. Walking around campus late at night, I marvel at all the lights still on in professors’ offices. I can barely comprehend the notion that some endeavor is worthless unless it makes instant money. It’s just so shortsighted and depressing to think about (Ugh, then it’s even worse to know the money is going to a stadium). Thank you for standing up for us, all the way from Maine!

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  59. Really nice comment. Thanks.

    One source of resentment toward faculty is that we do get paid reasonably well and, more importantly, have job security. The solution to that is not to induce a race to the bottom, but to take steps to remedy the poor compensation, job insecurity that others experience.

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    1. Great point — I made similar arguments back when, following Act 10, people argued that state employees get better benefits than most people and therefore we should take them away, because that’s not fair (never mind that those benefits were negotiated in lieu of salary increases).

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    2. Not all faculty get job security. Due to the decline in positions in humanities, there is an exponentially growing workforce of adjuncts and lecturers. And any tenure-track position does not have job security until awarded tenure–indeed many tenure-track contracts are considered for renewal or dismissal every two years at a number of prestigious institutions.

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    3. Also tenure doesn’t necessarily mean you are safe from losing your job. In the 2008-2010 budget crisis, our University just eliminated entire departments – that is how you can easily eliminate tenured professors.

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  60. As a geographer myself, I envy your Madison experience. One of the best universities in the world for geography education. UWM became one of the best through public support and by attracting some of the best educators the world has to offer. The vast majority of the U.S. population doesn’t understand how higher education functions. My experience at my regional university has shown me that even full-time employees at universities do not understand how public education is funded, nor any of the issues faced by public universities. I’ve been part of Staff Congress, NCAA oversight committees, our insurance and benefits committee, and university technology administrators committee. Plus, I teach two courses per semester, one for free. Only from all of this experience do I have a better understanding of the issues at work in higher education, and I still miss the downstream effects of many impending policies. Even my faculty peers don’t really have the same perspective as I as their experience has not been as broad. Gov. Walker and his minions clearly do not understand the forces in play, and as evidenced by some of the feedback you have received, neither have some of your commenters. Good piece, though. Thanks for the effort 🙂

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  61. I think your missing the point here. Tuition has risen faster than ANY sector of the economy and has now outpaced wages. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/10/23/charts-just-how-fast-has-college-tuition-grown. Lots of reasons for this but all need to be more productive. Including college professors. We as taxpayers are asking not for you to work harder but more efficiently. Just as the rest of us have had to do. Good for Walker sticking up for the taxpayer. About time we start reigning in out of control college spending.

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    1. I don’t think you read my post carefully. I understand that there’s a need to fill the budget gap, protect taxpayers (I am one; >30% of my paychecks go to taxes), and protect students from egregious tuition hikes. But it’s very difficult for me to accept that this is about money when Walker commits $500 million to a new private stadium but wants to cut $300 million from the UW System.

      Regardless of the how or why of the budget, though, what exactly should I do to be more “efficient?” I am already making personal sacrifices to work well beyond 40 hours a week. Efficiency is a buzzword that rarely actually comes with meaningful recommendations– and the implication is that we’re not already working efficiently. I can’t cut any more corners without compromising quality or job security. And there is no demonstrable need to do so. The only thing that will increase my efficiency is replacing cut admin support, teaching assistantships, and infrastructure. Not telling me to work “more” or “harder.”

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    2. C Stewart – The basis of your remark is a false inference that the cost of faculty salaries accounts for some significant portion of the rise in college costs. Not so. Indeed, at the same time college costs have been rising schools have been relying more and more on contingent faculty (adjuncts, etc.) who get paid very little. And regular faculty salaries rise very slowly pver time. By contrast, the explosion of administrative positions (various sub-deans for this that and the other) has contributed to costs. So too has the need to make colleges into summer camps with fancy food courts and so forth. Sorry.

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      1. I have been at my institution for nearly 20 years. When I was hired, there was a single vice president, a provost, and a ‘dean of students’. Today, there are 8 vice presidents, ~50% more students, and an increase in scholarship requirements (this is a primarily teaching institution, small liberal arts college). With the rise of the vice presidents – which we were told would make our jobs “easier” – we have been saddled with, in addition to teaching, research, advising, service – performing duties that other offices used to do, such as admissions, the registrar’s office, and IT. These many vice presidents are paid a minimum of double what a typical new assistant professor makes here, and these vice presidents are also given their own administrative staff on top of it. As is the case in most of corporate America, the bulk of increased costs (and decreases in efficiencies) can be found at the top, not at the bottom, and with the increase corporatization of higher ed, it will only get worse.

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          1. Dr. Gill,

            While I agree entirely with your original, well written letter, I am somewhat disappointed that you feel that the administrators are part of the problem. I think that you will find the same relative amounts of deadwood within both the faculty and non-tenured academic staff, and I believe that this is true for many, if not most, institutions. I know many dedicated administrators that are dedicated, hard working professionals who see to it that the machinery needed to serve the teaching, research and outreach missions will succeed. You want to get paid? Someone needs to handle the money. You need facilities in which to teach or house your equipment? Someone has to write and administer grants that help get those building constructed and furnished.

            Let’s face it, most of the staff at places like UW are not protected by tenure and they–and other bottom dwellers like instructors and TAs — will be the first to go when Governor Dropout gets his cuts. One of Walkers misconceptions (or possibly intentional deceits) is that when it happens, the remaining teaching staff will somehow pick-up the slack and teach more. As you have demonstrated, this is unlikely. Result: Fewer and/or larger classes. Conclusion: Worse educational experience for the kiddies.

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          2. I didn’t state anywhere that administrators are part of the problem. I stated that seeing faculty and staff lines cut while administrative positions are added is disheartening. I was talking specifically about upper level administrators, like deans, which have expanded disproportionately to other positions in recent years — a number of folks have raised concerns about administrator bloat. In fact, in my post, I mentioned that cuts to support staff have increased the administrative burden on faculty, which has reduced our efficiency overall. I have nothing but respect for the staff at my respective institutions, and have felt the impacts of their reductions keenly.

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    3. So rising tuition is bad.. what do you think will happen to tuition when we slash funding for our state university systems? Do you seriously think tuition will go down? As Prof. Gill has adroitly pointed out, “out of control college spending” is a myth perpetrated by faux populist right wingers.

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      1. Amen. The increasing numbers of adminstrators is a problem, as is the continued decline in state support for higher education nationwide. World-class research and teaching facilities require an investment. It can come from the state or it can come from the students.

        Considering how much has been lost in the last 30 years, it’s truly remarkable how well faculty at many public universities have managed. It’s a testament to the devotion they show to their various fields and to the students that attend their schools.

        Eventually though, the cuts hit bone. Looking at what is happening in Wisconsin and Louisiana, and what will almost certainly happen elsewhere, is heart-breaking.

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    4. I would like to know exactly how we should work more efficiently when we already work with budgets strung so tight we can barely do the jobs we are asked of already?

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      1. Exactly. Both at Madison and here in Maine, my administrative and teaching work loads increased with lost support staff. I do a lot more busy work that really isn’t cost-efficient for me to do at my pay level.

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    5. I teach nursing students Anatomy and Physiology. The classes are very long and include a 3-4 hour lab each week. Each section of teaching is a minimum of 15 hours of face time. I usually teach 3 sections per semester. Then, as was already said, grading/prepping/test writing/answering e-mails… I could be very efficient and give them all “A”s after a 20 minute/week class, but if you are sick and need safe medical care – is that really the nurse you want in your room??

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  62. You miss the fact that an ideologue does not care about the facts. He will laugh when he sees his target hurt and responding with logic and reason. He has turned his back on any truth or consequence of his manipulative acts long ago in his choice for power over others, or at least in comparison with others. He knows, to be successful, he must consider the reality of a targeted group, but only enough to parry away the carefully manipulated and predictable responses. It’s all so easy for the commuted sociopath. And fun. A real thrill. Our defending our jobs (I was a professor and now teach high school) and livelihoods before the ideologue is no more affective than the pleadings of a slave before the slaveholder.

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    1. I didn’t miss the point; I chose not to make that the focus of my argument. Walker won’t read this, and it wouldn’t change his mind if he did. But lots of folks hold these ideas, and they’re harmful. Those people may change their minds.

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  63. Reblogged this on Constant Geography and commented:
    In the near future I might author my own rebuttal to Gov. Walker’s plans to scuttle Wisconsin’s higher education. Several high-ranking Republican Conservatives simply despise higher education. More specifically, they seem to be against state-sponsored education, against the public support of education. Listening their comments on C-SPAN and reading essays on their individual websites, one can only come away with the sentiment these GOP members would be more than happy to divest the Federal and state governments of the responsibility of educating people and turn the education of our populace over to for-profit schools and religious organizations. Some states are already using the voucher system to provide public monies to religious schools in clear violation of the separation of Church and State. More to the point, Gov. Walker and his compatriots in the GOP are seeking to break-down state educational systems using “state rights” as a rallying cry yet what their attempts are truly attempting to do is push more federal money into for-profit universities. These for-profit universities are responsible for the greatest portion of student loan indebtedness and lack of results. There are a host of other issues Scott Walker seems too mentally impaired to understand. I’ll take a stab at addressing those issues in my own response. Cheers!

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  64. Medical residency programs are now required by law to limit work hours to an average of 80 hours a week (meaning if you are lucky enough to get 60 hour work weeks this month then get ready for 100 next month–BTW not always limited to average of 80). For most this requires being ready at any moment to a true life or death crisis (‘code blue’) and not many ‘lab hours’ afforded. There is no tenure for Doctors as they progress through their careers and no semester breaks, Spring or Fall breaks or Summer estivation to recharge batteries. This is just one of many ‘hard working’ careers to compare.

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    1. What’s the point of your comment? I never said that we work harder than other people. I said that we work hard, period — because Walker was talking about professors. And I suppose you missed the part of my post where I mentioned that we don’t actually get winter or summer breaks (we still have to work, but, unlike doctors, we don’t actually get paid unless we bring in summer salary in via grants).

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      1. I am sure there are many people who work harder than professors. I am thankful everyday that I don’t have to spend each work day in a coal mine. That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. In addition the long work hours of those in the medical profession leads to increased chance of more sleep deprived errors due as the long work hours lead to stress and fatigue. I’d rather see the government incentivize more people to get degrees in the medical profession thus reducing the work load for doctors and nurses as we need more people in the health industry right now. And yes doctors get paid a whole hell of a lot more over the course of their professional career than a professor will.

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    2. One of my close friends is finishing his residency and is going into interventional radiology. He told me his new job will come with a salary >$350k/yr and at least 8 weeks vacation. Unless he is lying to me, you really do get well-compensated for all of the hard work you put in despite you not getting tenure.

      I’m not sure why you think “lab hours” aren’t necessary–they are part of our job, not just fun time. But like Jacquelyn said, no one is saying being a professor is the hardest job ever. I would never tell a doctor OR professor to ‘work harder’, I find that sentiment equally absurd. Nice post Jacquelyn.

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      1. I missed the comment about lab time. How bizarre! Sure, it can be fun, but it’s also necessary, and it’s not necessarily easy. And you know what? Still work. I sometimes spent 12-hour days on a microscope or at the fume hood, and field work can be physically brutal. But the point is, it’s not a competition. The point is breaking the stereotype. And you can work hard even if you’re not saving lives.

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    3. It is harder to become a physician than it is to ‘be’ one. I know – I was in a grad program in a medical school. I knew a number of medical students, and have kept in touch with several. Using the “anecdote=evidence” approach that so many anti-education types do, allow me – one of my doctor friends is now a radiologist. $300k+ salary fresh out of medical school (after a short residency). About 7 times what I earn as a professor. He has a straight 8-5 job, with plenty of vacation time. Another is a pathologist. Same basic pay. Same vacation time. Lots of physicians are slackers that could ‘work more.’ Piling on professors and teachers is just what those with profession envy do.

      Liked by 3 people

  65. As horrible as that is, I think he also (or at least a legislator who supports Walker) said ‘we need research that enhances the economy, not the mating habits of whosey what’s it’s’ when I heard this on the radio this morning. Fundamentally these people do not seem to get research (of course, I can’t claim that I do, really, either), but totally miss the point. It’s as if nothing is worth it unless it makes money, and quickly. Things I can think of not on that list: The Environment, children, vaccines, The Internet, The Space Program, Any basic science that is not directly applicable to humans. Ugh. if these cuts go through, it’ll be a huge faculty poaching bonanza for universities that actually do understand that science matters and is our future.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Yes. People get touchy when you say the economic benefits of basic (curiosity) driven research are almost a by-product of the process of creative minds pursuing a question or trying to make something new (this happens in entertainment all the time…”no way that’ll be good/make money”…to “Hey, that did work, let’s be best friends now!”.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think that was McCain, but I would not be surprised if Jindal had done it too. If I am not mistaken, a volcano erupted not too long after they had gone public with the derision… Whomever it was, it was/is classic ignorant populism.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. For people who do have difficulty with the value of basic research, I ask them whether they would fund research investigating the precession of the perihelion of Mercury (the planet, not the element).

        Almost all of them look at me with a blank stare. However, if you did not have that research, general relativity would never had been formed, and our GPS devices (that have transformed modern transportation, economics, and the military) would not work.

        You can never predict the usefulness of basic research. It’s closer to venture capitalism than anything else… the benefits are enormous / earth changing / economy enabling. The costs are a pittance compared to the other costs of governance.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Listen, these politicos may target fruitfly research, etc., when they’re on air, but the cuts that result from their policies harm all research and educational endeavors, including ones that could directly benefit humans in our lifetimes. Saying, “Hi, I’m cutting oncology research funding!” doesn’t make a good soundbyte for their conservative Christian base, so politicians typically justify their cuts by using the most abstract-sounding environmental and/or gender study title that they can find.

      I do translational biomedical research in academia. The field hasn’t recovered from the NIH sequester, and is also suffering from bloated administrative overhead (at my institution, ~80% overhead is taken on grants). My husband (another PhD) and I have a really hard time paying our bills because of the high cost of living in our area.

      Elected officials like Gov. Walker are making me consider leaving the field for a more lucrative and less stressful career, because if they’re the ones dictating the future, then there isn’t much of a future in this work.

      If you can’t beat them, leave, right?

      Or can we still beat them?

      In any case, great post, and great comments!

      PS– I personally think the mating habits of whoosey whats its are important to study too. Especially since a whoosey whats it sounds kind of scary.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re likely right. I’m always wary of perpetuating the idea that you have to work 80 hours a week to be successful in academia, and there are definitely weeks that are much busier than average, but this is a reasonable estimate of the minimum.

      Liked by 2 people

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