Tag Archives: job market

Open letter from the English Dept.

Twenty-four tenured and senior professors in the English department have released a letter condemning President Wagner’s racist editorial in the Emory Magazine. They condemn Wagner’s words as “indefensible” and call on the Board of Trustees to respond

3.6.13.English Dept Open Letter 3.6.13.English Dept Open Letter-signatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also duly noted:

In the short term, we anticipate adverse consequences for the recruitment of faculty members and top-tier students. Serious academics will no doubt pause to question whether Emory is a suitable environment in which to pursue liberal arts training that promotes respect based on informed critical reasoning.
During this graduate admissions season, we have had to write to our admitted students to reassure them that President Wagner’s article in no way reflects our values, nor should it affect their training. Indeed, we have heard back from many of them that the article has been on their minds as they deliberate about whether to come to Emory rather than to accept other, highly competitive offers.

We thank you for your way with words and your integrity in exercising the “responsibilities” that come with tenure. We also express shame at the culture–one not unique to Emory–where junior faculty are led to believe speaking out may put their jobs on the line.

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No support, no confidence

When Emory announced the cuts in September, tenured and tenure-track faculty in the departments being obliterated were told the university would make sure they were re-settled in other departments smoothly and efficiently. That has not been the case.

Faculty members in the ILA, Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures (REALC), and Visual Arts have received minimal if any attention from the administration. One professor reports that the only personal contact he had with Dean Forman was on September 14, the day of the announcement. Another, a department head, reports that Forman came to his office only once, and then only to apologize. Other departments (Comparative Literature, English, and WGSS, among others) don’t have official guidelines as to how many new faculty they can absorb or whether they will have the resources to support new members.

It boils down to this: Professors who are already struggling to “wind down” their departments and make sure current students are treated fairly, on top of the ongoing duties of teaching, service and trying to advance their own careers (many are junior faculty), are also responsible for re-placing themselves. There is no structure in place that would ensure negotiations will be fair and open. For these professors, the spectre of forced (nudged?) early retirement looms large. Dean Tedesco did suggest it as an option in her first letter, and another faculty member notes that’s been her M.O. in the past.

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Chronicle: Careers, Interrupted

Of the 11 tenured and tenure-track professors in the closed programs at Washington State [i.e., theater and dance, community and rural sociology, and some foreign languages], five have retired, some before they had planned. Five still work at the university, a few with mixed feelings. Among those who remain, some have advanced in new departments while others have had to step backward, even off the tenure track. One found a new job elsewhere.

For professors who choose retirement when a department closes, the choice is often a difficult one. And for some, the result is an unsatisfying closure to their careers.

Ms. Harris, a 37-year veteran of Washington State, says she oversaw her program’s transition to a full-fledged department [of theater and dance] in 2007. The closing of the department in the middle of last year makes her feel like “everything I ever did is just gone.”

“I have a very small pension, so I’m just relying on the private means that I’m just lucky to have,” says Ms. Kolb [former professor of French at Southeastern], who along with her former colleagues has sued the university, which the American Association of University Professors added to its censure list in June for violating the rights of tenured faculty by terminating their appointments as part of budget cuts. “I’m also able to continue living in Louisiana where the cost of living is low. I guess I just have to count my blessings.”

More poignant stories, including the particular difficulties facing junior faculty, at The Chronicle. We’re looking forward, with support and curiosity, to hearing the outcome of those legal complaints.

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