Monday, December 20, 2010

Paying professors NOT to teach?! Yes.

I am addicted to listening to podcasts, especially at night.  I fall asleep listening to them.  I tend towards NPR's Fresh Air and "Most-Emailed," Slate's gabfests and Double X, and Marketplace.  So relaxing....zzzzzz

Except the other night, when I heard on Marketplace that the Iowa legislature (just switched to GOP majority in November) is gunning to end sabbaticals for the state's universities.  That kept me up for half the night.

So stupid! For so many reasons! 
1. Hiring difficulties.
2. Faculty flight.
3. Decline in productivity of faculty that remain.
4. Bad for morale.
5. Decline in indirect cost income: Faculty (especially in sciences, and to lesser extent social sciences) bring in grants with indirect costs that is income for the university.  This income would likely decrease with cuts to or elimination of sabbaticals.

And that's off the top of my head.  Plus, the estimated savings from eliminating sabbaticals? $250,000/yr/university.  Yes.  Peanuts for a university budget--especially with the costs associated. 

I can imagine the sound bites play well to many a constituent: "paying professors to take a 15-week vacation!" or "paying professors NOT to teach!"

Arggghhhh! Stupidity of others can be so stressful. 

I've never had a sabbatical. I was approved for sabbatical right around the same time I accepted the job at my current institution.  I negotiated a semester off from teaching, but I still had service, had to come to meetings and events, etc.  I need my sabbatical.  Period.


  1. How dare the Iowa legislature interrupt your sleep! This is yet another sign of the rampant anti-intellectualism of contemporary American society. There's a basic misunderstanding about what professors do, that if we're not in the classroom we're not working, and we're not in the classroom enough; we spend too much time sitting around plotting how to turn our nation's children into gay Socialists. It's appalling that intellectual work has to be justified financially.

  2. I posted a link to this on my Facebook page (didn't see pingback here so not sure if Blogger notifies you) and there's already a 'like' for it, yay!

  3. I fear we are headed here, too, though there's no "sabbatical fund" in this state (departments either don't offer the class or reassign it to someone else, often for an overload). We professors(collectively) need to do a better job of telling the taxpayers what it is that we do, in plain English.

    I live in a small, pretty conservative town and find that lots of townsfolk who aren't associated with "the College" see faculty as a bunch of snobs who don't work very hard and have it pretty easy. We've taken furloughs, pay cuts, and benefit cuts, but still there's the aura of privilege (though I make $20,000 less than a colleague in the same job in a nearby state/state school...and I'm in the humanities, so it's not much of a salary to start). The trick, I think, is to explain what we do and the benefits (to them) of sabbaticals and not sound so condescending... After the recent election (here, at least), it's the not-very-good-in-school folks who are now in charge, and they're loaded for bear...

    And I need mine too (15 year w/o). Will hope I can apply next year before they cancel them.

  4. Thanks for the post on facebook WoPro! And I like the idea suggested in your earlier comment re. professors publicizing our heavy workload by making public our to-do lists. My drudgery list is now posted on my blog. Izzabitz and TiredProf--how about posting your to-do lists. Fight the Power!