My column was "The Most Interesting Adjunct in the World." The story of the Santa Clara Adjunct got lots of press when it happened. I saw it first here on Rebecca Schuman's blog as it emerged out of adjunct-related chat on Twitter. Within a few hours, the story moved quickly. Here's a piece from Vitae, but there are of other links, many citing my good friend Rick Gooden's tweets on the subject. Yesterday, driving out to a gig at a pub, the great Peter Sagal on Wait-Wait Don't Tell Me used it as a news item for a final question.
For those who missed the story, the short version is:
Here are some points from the column.
The posting, for an adjunct-lecturer slot at Santa Clara University, required applicants to have published at least 25 books, through top presses, on highly specific but varied topics; worked as a journalist; hosted radio and TV productions; founded startups; cultivated connections at Oxford University and throughout the Bay Area; and, perhaps most importantly, have some experience as a teacher.TWENTY FIVE BOOKS. Ok, well, it turns out they were trying to hire a specific person. This is a fairly normal practice, but not usually in Adjunct Land. I was pleased, therefore, to write what I call a "next day" analysis piece (I was, I think, the person who alerted the Santa Clara PR director to the issue, as she was startled when I talked to her on the phone).
Here are some points from the column.
I am not opposed to inside hires in principle. Bifurcated job ads can be, however, a warning sign for a divided department. I wrote:
Tailoring job listings to internal candidates is a well-known practice, and inside hires are not necessarily a bad thing. I hear people complain that this type of hiring leads to departments settling for known quantities instead of pursuing excellence, but that’s not really my sense of things. The pursuit of prestige-laden superstars marks much of what is wrong at the top echelon of academic hiring, in which a few people get marked as geniuses and soak up enormous resources that might be more equitably distributed among many merely brilliant scholars and teachers. My experience is that the academic world is filled with smart scholars and good teachers, and if you have one who is doing a good job with your students, it’s reasonable to hire her.What's unusual is to see the language come to adjunct land. It reflects, perhaps, the normalization of adjunct labor as a central component to the higher education landscape, demanding an organized response from all of us, as I have written before. Adjuncts are not "adjunct" to our universities.
Along with my interview, I talked about fatherhood in other contexts. I need to get better about marketing myself as a fatherhood writer, because today is apparently Father's Day and I am not doing anything professional. I did pitch a column that didn't get picked up, which is fine and normal, then did other things. The use of the word "marketing" and "myself" makes me deeply uncomfortable. I am a terrible capitalist.
I wrote about the "Dads are incompetent" theme in our culture and what it says, as well as a longer piece about parenting against the grain, "Just say no to pink." I got plenty of pushback on that one, probably deserved, for coming off as femme-phobic. I'll have to keep working on how to articulate my agenda and using "pink" as metonymy clearly won't work. It distracts rather than helps. Maybe "Princess-culture?"
Other pieces were:
- Crowdsourcing Tenure and Promotion rules about Public Engagement. Watch for my Chronicle piece on the 23rd.
- I reacted to a great post from Alison Kinney on the way police attack female protesters by going for their breasts, both now and in history.
- And finally, a piece on professionalism and code-switching. I'd like to think teaching code-switching as a skill, a choice, is empowering, rather than pushing conformity. I respect the counter-argument though.
Thanks for reading. Please always point out mistakes I make and other things I might want to read.