Better Late Than Never

I have just started reading Dr. Mark Bousquet’s book How The University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation. I found Cary Nelson’s introduction slightly out of touch with reality. Dr. Nelson, a self-professed “tenured radical,” and President of the AAUP, has long spoken out on behalf of part-time faculty to his credit and ours! However, I found his introduction to How The University Works contradictory and filled with myths about who teaches part-time.

In fact, Dr. Bousquet falls into the same bad trap. His book is full of myths about who part-time faculty are and what we do. I am finding it somewhat frustrating, but I am soldiering on. The most controversial proposition Dr. Bousquet puts forth is that there is plenty of work for all of the Ph.D.s who graduate. In other words, there is not an over-production of Ph.D.s, but rather an under-production of jobs within higher education.

I wish I could quote his research, but unfortunately I am finding many of his suppositions unsupported by research, but rather reliant on what I imagine must be his personal experience. Some of the research he does use to support his conclusions is somewhat outdated, in one instance coming from as far back as 1992.

Anyone else out there reading his book?!?

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5 Comments

  1. I’m very glad to help out, and it’ll be easier if you give me page references, but I think you might be misreading me (or else I just wrote poorly!). I did not mean to suggest that more than half of contingent faculty were from minority backgrounds, for instance! As for the 8-10 years in time to degree, I believe I was trying to account for the different averages in different fields, some of which are closer to 8 years, whereas others now exceed 10 years, as you point out. Likewise, in certain fields, there is a vast imbalance in the number of women employed contingently by contrast to the proportion of women employed in the tenure stream in those fields.

    Another issue is that faculty serving contingently is today a category that includes a huge number of people serving full-time, as well as part-timers, so that may explain some of the statistical variations you’re perceiving.

    Please do feel free to check my numbers against the source data I provide–usually the most recen

  2. Marc,

    Thanks for stopping by! Ok….here goes:

    1. Throughout the book, thus far, you write that Ph.D. candidates teach for between 8-10 before earning their degrees. The National Science Foundation data disagree with you (the Foundation surveyed the whole doctoral population, and has data going back 25 years.) According to the NSF information, the average registered time for a Ph.D. student to go from B.A. to Ph.D. is 10.1 years. Here’s the link: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf06312/

    2. You write that part-time faculty are more likely to be minorities. According to data from the 2006 U.S. Department of Education Digest, the majority of BOTH full-time and part-time faculty are white. There are are an equal number of minority faculty employed full-time and part-time.

    3. You write that women “by a majority” make up the part-time professorate. Again, according to the DOE 2006 Digest, at all institutions, there are 312K MEN who teach part-time, and 301K women. It’

  3. Marc,

    Thanks for stopping by! Ok….here goes:

    1. Throughout the book, thus far, you write that Ph.D. candidates teach for between 8-10 before earning their degrees. The National Science Foundation data disagree with you (the Foundation surveyed the whole doctoral population, and has data going back 25 years.) According to the NSF information, the average registered time for a Ph.D. student to go from B.A. to Ph.D. is 10.1 years. Here’s the link: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf06312/

    2. You write that part-time faculty are more likely to be minorities. According to data from the 2006 U.S. Department of Education Digest, the majority of BOTH full-time and part-time faculty are white. There are are an equal number of minority faculty employed full-time and part-time.

    3. You write that women “by a majority” make up the part-time professorate. Again, according to the DOE 2006 Digest, at all institutions, there are 312K MEN who teach part-time, and 301K women. It’

  4. Hey, Craig Smith just sent me this link. Couple of thoughts here. First, please just call me Marc.

    Second, please let me know what “myths” I’m circulating, and which claims you feel are unsupported by research.

    Patricia is interviewing me in a couple of weeks in this space, but I’m very happy to answer any specific questions before that. I’m also happy to address any complaints in my continuing research, and to talk about concerns either on my own blog, howtheuniversityworks.com, at the Chronicle’s “brainstorm” blog, or, in a month or two, at The Valve.

    But I can’t help you out with what you’ve said so far!

    Solidarity, M
    Marc Bousquet
    http://howtheuniversityworks.com

  5. Hey, Craig Smith just sent me this link. Couple of thoughts here. First, please just call me Marc.

    Second, please let me know what “myths” I’m circulating, and which claims you feel are unsupported by research.

    Patricia is interviewing me in a couple of weeks in this space, but I’m very happy to answer any specific questions before that. I’m also happy to address any complaints in my continuing research, and to talk about concerns either on my own blog, howtheuniversityworks.com, at the Chronicle’s “brainstorm” blog, or, in a month or two, at The Valve.

    But I can’t help you out with what you’ve said so far!

    Solidarity, M
    Marc Bousquet
    http://howtheuniversityworks.com

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