Monday, October 5, 2015

Life in the Pissant Swamp: The Business of American Colleges and Universities is Business

I knew this would happen. I am within two semesters of getting my health care after retirement from the state of New York thanks to over ten years of service as a part-time university teacher. It didn't look good for me in August. I was told I was being offered one class by my current academic employer SUNY Oneonta. As a result I picked up two classes three days before classes began at SUNY Cobleskill in the hope that perhaps I could get some classes there too and assure that I would be able to continue working through fall of 2016 and, as a result, get the health insurance this less than healthy asthmatic needs.

But then things changed as they sometimes do for part-times. I was offered a Communication class and a Sociology class at Oneonta for the spring term. Last week, however, things changed again as is often the case for us poor and poorly paid part times. I got the news that my services are no longer wanted in the Communication Department. I was told it was all about money and new provosts.

I don't know whether that claim is true or not. I have long got mixed messages from Communication. There are certainly a bevy of other possible reasons I got the boot. Did I get the boot because Communication has recently been split into Communication and Mass Communication and Mass Comm has got permission to hire two new full-time faculty members neither of them me? There are other possible or additional reasons I may have got the boot. Did I get it because I commute from Albany and Mass Comm wants someone who is local? Did I get it because Mass Comm thought I couldn't teach outside of prime time class hours because I commuted? Did I get the boot because I didn't attend Department meetings? Did I get it because I am nearing getting my excellent health care after retirement and SUNY doesn't want to give it to me given the costs? SUNY is, after all, run by bureaucrats who are always looking for ways to cut costs when it comes to faculty, not, however, when it comes to administrative bureaucrats. The numbers of administrators have increased dramatically over the last number of years. Many of these bureaucrats, of course, can't think outside of the little management boxes they have been socialised into while those who should know better and do have critical thinking skills go along because they want to show the business oriented bureaucrats who run universities that they mean business and can slash jobs with the best of them.

So to sum up, it looks at this moment that I will not be teaching next term and that I won't, as a result, be able to get the health care I have tried and worked so hard to get after I retire as a consequence. Welcome to a world in which higher education has become a business, behaves like a business, is dependent upon increasing numbers of students to keep the business going, engages in grade inflation on a vast scale because students pay increasingly more of the bills, and in which introductory classes have increasingly come to look more and more like high school classes with their emphasis on teaching for the test and not on critical thinking. Praise Mammon.

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