Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fiddlebright enjoys the good life

After reading about Katie's summer I wanted to share something from mine. Up front, I'm not quite as busy as she was and all I've got to show so far is a link and a drinking problem. For me summers off is one of the best perks of our profession and I sometimes wonder how this benefit of life in the academy is such a well kept secret. Of course, as an academic, I recognize how important it is for us to have these three months off, with no work or responsibility to impede the recharging of our souls necessary to face the tasks of a distant but impending Fall semester. I think if it were to become common knowledge there might be resentment in some camps.

For my part, I am enjoying these glorious, carefree days mostly by sitting on my commodious pool deck and sipping grape Kool-Aid and Everclear. I don't travel until August. (I know I don't have to tell you that the amazing salaries are one of the other great reasons to teach!) Anyway, while waiting for Charles to bring lunch out, I was reading on my iPad and came across this story about the faculty at the University of Alberta.  Perhaps it's old news but I think they are really on to something. Now as an old Silverback, I am satisfied with how things are going for me personally right now [see above]. I did my time but perhaps some other folks want to try a faster track to wealth and leisure by getting together and becoming highly paid, gestalt-administrators? Seems like a great Summer project for those seeking a real change. If nothing else, it could be a parachute plan for the four of you at the compound if the shit starts "going down". Think about it. Money….Canada……..

Just wanted to help!!!!! I am like Katie that way.




  1. You do realize that your "summers off" are no longer commonplace, right?

    Your peers still often have faculty meetings and e-mail and some teaching and meetings with students and all sorts of other crap from May to August. We'll not even mention all that "required research" that often gets time-shifted to the summertime because there's no real time during the 9-month typical school year.

    The myth of "summers off" keeps getting perpetuated by people who seem to be ignorant that many, many faculty don't really have them any more.

    1. Umm, The_Myth? Fiddlebright is joking here. If the article this post points to wasn't enough, the dead giveaway is the mention of "the amazing salaries." Don't you feel embarrassed, since even a chronically socially maladjusted physics geek like me could figure that out?

  2. The "let's 4 of us get together and apply for an administrator's job that pays 8x our salaries" approach is, indeed, a pretty good way to make a point about where the money is going in higher ed. It also points, at an overall institutional level, toward the fact that the rise in the number of administrative jobs of all sorts (sub-sub deans/deanlets and the like) seems to track pretty closely with the increased use of adjuncts who don't do service at all. I'm not sure which is cause and which is effect (or whether they're both related to a third factor -- probably the most likely explanation), but this is, of course, bad for faculty governance, and for higher ed in general.

    And yes, as I'm sure fiddlebright is aware, fewer and fewer of us really have the option of not working over the summer (if we ever really did). Personally, I'm in the throes of teaching a 6-week online class. And my tenured colleagues are hardly immune to such pressures; in fact, because tenure-track salaries have been stagnant for so long, it's becoming harder for adjunct in our department to get summer teaching (and there's increasing pressure from the administration to pay tenure-track faculty adjunct wages for summer teaching, rather than the 10% of regular salary that has been the usual practice for some time. Apparently the administration still believes that tenured faculty take summer off, too. As far as I can tell, the only people who have a real incentive *not* to teach are untenured tenure-track faculty, who are scrambling to meet ever-increasing publication expectations).