Monday Morning Musings

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Listen to my blog entry here.

I just spent a very lively hour or so chatting with the President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Dr. Cary Nelson. We chatted about his previous term, re-election bid, AAUP’s restructuring, tenure and, of course, part-time faculty. Look for the Podcast interview in April, shortly before AAUP election results are scheduled to be announced. His interview will be the fourth in our new Podcast Interview Series. Last week, I interviewed Adjunct Advocate cartoonist, and all-around funny guy, Matthew Henry Hall. Those snorting sounds you hear in the interview are me, of course, trying very, very not to laugh hysterically at Matt’s jokes.

I am scheduled to go to the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) conference in Philadelphia at the beginning of April. We’re displaying at the conference (Part-Time Press books). It will be the first time we’ve displayed at AAHE, and I am looking forward to going. It’s always a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues. In addition, I enjoy Philadelphia. There’s so much to see and do there; I always schedule some time for myself to wander around the city and visit a museum or two.

On Wednesday of this week, I am scheduled to interview author Marc Bousquet. I have been enjoying his shared blog postings on The Chronicle’s website. He has an interesting piece about AAUP’s current election, and the election’s intersection with the issue of part-time faculty, on the Inside Higher Ed site today. I am looking forward to chatting with him.

I know this is going to make me look foolish, but I just can’t get into Scott McLemee’s writing at Inside Higher Ed. I’ve met McLemee, and he’s an incredibly impassioned man about ideas and education–that passion comes out in his writing–but sometimes I wish he’d remember that writing about culture can be slightly less self-congratulatory. No matter, of course, he’ll continue on to entertain those who enjoy his writing, and I’ll continue on skipping his pieces, but wishing I could get into them.

Finally, leave it to our colleagues to the North to boil down the NCAA tournament to its essential elements. In a piece published in the Toronto Globe and Mail, picked up from the Associated Press wire, I read that “North Carolina was the only school among the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA men’s tournament to graduate at least 50 per cent of its players. A report released Monday found 86 per cent of Tar Heels men’s players earned diplomas during a six-year period. The other top seeds were far worse: 45 per cent at Kansas and 40 per cent at UCLA and Memphis.” Closer to home, here in Ann Arbor, the local newspaper printed an expose that revealed that John Hagen, a veteran psychology professor, “has taught at least 294 independent studies from the fall of 2004 to the fall of 2007, and 85 percent of those courses, 251, were with athletes.” Some of those athletes, needing an easy “A,” were directed to study with Dr. Hagen. Some earned high marks for chatting about sports, how to take notes, and spending half an hour twice weekly with the good doctor.

When I studied for my undergrad and grad degrees at Michigan, I took as many independent study credits as I was allowed to elect. I studied astronomy, history and English with some truly inspirational faculty. What the Associated Press and the Ann Arbor News uncovered is an embarrassment to higher education, the individual institutions involved, and the presidents of those institutions. It’s no shock that student athletes get short-changed educationally and exploited, but it’s still incredibly disturbing.

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