Monday, August 13, 2007

What We Can Look Forward To

Dear Adjunct Faculty Member,

It's come to our attention that we may have openings to teach two upper-level classes next fall, and although we can't offer you appointments at this point, we would like the names of those interested in teaching these required courses. We need to make clear that indicating your willingness to teach these classes in no way guarantees your employment next year.

In order to be eligible to teach the classes, you must have: a Ph.D., experience teaching the subject matter, a good teaching record, and an intangible quality that we don't want to define because we feel that definition would make it tangible. We will pay you roughly $4,000 a class regardless of your experience.

We will, however, need a complete job file, a letter of intent, and a criminal background check if you wish to become part of the department in this manner. We can't be expected to know who you are -- even those of you who have been here for too long.

At this point in the academic year, we know that people tend to get anxious about whether they will be able to feed themselves or their families in the future, or if they should sign a lease for next year since so few of you seem to own your own houses.

In light of the desperate situation many of you seem to find yourself in, we'd like to take this opportunity to offer some suggestions if you really want to be rehired:

  • Win a teaching award. That makes us look good, and we like that.
  • Get high student evaluations. Even though none of us take these seriously, because many of us don't get high student evaluations, it is an indication that students won't complain about you. And again, that makes us look good.
  • Be a man. When we do decide to turn a part-time job into a full-time temporary position or to hire a full-time administrator for a program -- although we won't guarantee those people future employment either -- they are somewhat more secure, and it is always a man who gets the job. That is not, as some have suggested, "gender bias." It's just that men are better. We find that to be true even among our tenured faculty members.
  • Be young. We like to think of you as our children (the ones who didn't get into private schools), and that becomes difficult when you become older than us.
  • Marry one of us. While we cannot guarantee you a tenured position unless you marry a really important one of us, we can guarantee that you won't have to stand in line like everyone else to get your class assignments, and you will always be able to teach upper-level courses, even if there are other adjuncts more qualified than you. If you have to divorce someone else in order to marry one of us, well, let's just say there's precedent.
  • Know your place. You are teaching staff. We are research staff. Don't give papers. We thought we made it clear by not giving you any release time or travel money that we don't want you to produce scholarship. Even though it has been statistically proven that many non-tenure faculty members will be in residence longer than some of their tenure-track counterparts, even though many of you have taught more classes than some of the rest of us will teach in our lifetimes, we prefer to pour all of our money and support into people who will complete a book and then leave us for someplace "better" or "warmer."
  • Who needs money? Last year it came to our attention that those of you who didn't have sufficient income needed to retain another job. Don't do this. When it comes time to report your outside activities to the state, that is a problem for us. We prefer the alternative that many of you reported -- food stamps and other welfare programs. Take heart. Even on a poverty-level income, you are a philanthropist. You, along with the Mellon Foundation, support our research.

We trust that with your education you will be able to understand the complexities of our sentiments -- that you are all completely invaluable and yet expendable. It is, after all, the human condition. And we are in the humanities.

We want to remind you that this is a great university, with a great faculty. We are excited about things to come.


The Assistant Directors of Something Large and Important



Braden said...

That sounds almost like a real letter. maybe when we are all old and gray or bald we will look back and laugh at these sorts of things.

New York City said...

I know. I think what makes it funny is that it's so true.

Denise Williams said...

I think that is true in many professions