January 7, 2008

Insomnia and IHE

If you're here because of the IHE article, welcome! Look around, add comments, subscribe to the RSS feed, and come back often. Here's the story behind Scott Jaschik's piece: I was awake early Sunday morning (or in the wee hours between Saturday and Sunday) and in shape to do not much more than crawl through the overnight news online. I was going through some of the clips from Saturday night's presidential debates and realized that moderator Charles Gibson had faked some numbers about faculty salaries.

If you take a family of two professors here at Saint Anselm, they’re going to be in the $200,000 category that you’re talking about lifting the taxes on...

The Democratic candidates laughed at Gibson, and his comments struck me as representative of journalistic laziness on higher education. St. Anselm is known as a solid Benedictine (Catholic) liberal-arts college in southern New Hampshire, with about 2,000 students. It doesn't have the highest snob-marketing statistics such as average incoming SATs, but the college reports a four-year graduation rate of 74%. They don't do that with highly-paid faculty, and after a little digging, I wrote a brief release mostly for local higher-ed reporters to talk about faculty salaries at USF as well as St. Anselm.

But I also sent it to Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed, figuring he'd add it as a blurb to this morning's quick takes page, after stripping it of any material specifically from me.

I guess it was a slow news day (or a slow news week) at the beginning of the year: I've been quoted for ABC Thinks You’re Rich; ‘U.S. News’ Says Your Job Is Cushy. For the record, I think Jaschik had the newsworthiness judgment wrong: GWU's contract with adjunct faculty is more important than my comments (or Karl Steel's letter of complaint to U.S. News and World Report). And since Jaschik lumps the two issues together, I should note that at least in my case, the job is wonderful: I am overcommitted to too many projects that I've chosen, but at least I'm in the position of choosing them.

But I'm grateful for at least the factual correction of Gibson's glib comment in one of the (electronic) papers of record for higher ed.

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Posted in Union on January 7, 2008 7:12 AM |