Man bites dog: I feel sorry for business professors.

4 02 2014

Here at CSU-Pueblo, my building sits next to the Hassan School of Business. The business professors work in a much nicer building than mine. Unlike mine, their offices have windows. Every one of them (even the assistants), all make more money than I do. I understand how labor markets work. Those folks have to be paid more otherwise the private sector would swoop them up. Nevertheless, I’ve never quite understood why the pay gap between us has to be quite as big as it is.

Yet do you want to know how bad things are here at CSU-Pueblo right now? I feel sorry for our business professors.

Business and nursing are the two programs from our university that are participating in the first stages of Colorado State University’s South Denver campus. I just talked to our Dean of Nursing. Their Nursing Completion Program there will be staffed by new hires in the South Denver area. The Business faculty, on the other hand, had to submit their CVs to Fort Collins so that they can decide which of them has to commute up north. Yes, you read that right. CSU-Pueblo business faculty will be forced to commute to Denver at least twice a week. On a good day, that’s two hours each way. On a bad day (which means you hit rush hour), it’s much worse. Don’t even start with me on what happens when it’s snowing.

Like the rest of us, the business professors (at least in theory) have to teach a 4-4 starting next year. This is going to be the “4″ for many of those professors. Has anybody decided who’s paying for their gas? No. Has anybody decided on who’s actually paying their salaries (since this is a Fort Collins controlled program)? No. Has anybody decided whether these people will be compensated for their travel time? No. I was just talking to a colleague over in business. Apparently, they were told this was coming a year ago and then told to “make it happen.” They’ve received no other guidance at all.

If anybody reading this works for a journalistic organization that would like to do a story on this, please let me know. I can forward you some e-mails. I can’t guarantee they’ll all talk on the record, but I’ll bet you anything they’ll talk. These folks are even angrier than the rest of us around here, and the sad thing is that they have every right to be.

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12 responses

4 02 2014
historiann

I suppose it’s not collegial to ask this question, but I will: whose side are the business proffies on? Where were they when Tim McGettigan’s e-id was shut down? How many of them are in your chapter of AAUP, or is it mostly the anthropologists, political scientists, and historians like it it at CSU-Fort Collins? Are they just cheesed now that it’s their oxen being gored?

I’m not writing from any position of knowledge about your business faculty in particular. I’m just writing from my experience in general with business faculties, who have been all-in on online ed (because it makes them money) and very enthusiastic about the neoliberal agenda at work at CSU-Fort Collins in particular and in U.S. universities in general.

So, I suppose commuting 4 hours round-trip is the price they’ll have to pay for teaching “marketable” skills!

4 02 2014
Jonathan Rees

Historiann,

We have a couple of active business members in the AAUP chapter, and I’ve heard a number of them make common cause in defense of Tim. Yet that’s not really the point here, is it? If your administration can force you to commute eight hours a week to keep your job, any job, do any limits exist on their power?

It’s kind of like when professional football players go on strike. Are you going to ignore their concerns because they make so much money or do you side with the working class (even if these working class people are on the very top end of that class and probably don’t agree that class even exists)?

I’m for every worker everywhere.

4 02 2014
historiann

I know, I know; and FWIW I don’t resent the money they make. I resent the way that most business faculty assume that their interests are separate from the rest of us faculty proles who teach “unmarketable” skills.

It’s good to hear that some of them are in AAUP and that they stood up for Tim, too. That’s good enough for me.

4 02 2014
Contingent Cassandra

This is, I think, one the as-yet-untested realms of the current upheavals in higher ed: just how much can administration change the jobs of tenured faculty, in terms of workload, location, and other expectations? I suspect it’s a lot more than most tenured faculty realize* I’m not inclined to celebrate that, since it does contingent faculty no good to see tenure track faculty worse off. I do, however, think that the fact that administrators and legislators are all too free, and all too able, to create a new program with a new name but very similar purpose to the current business programs, and staff it entirely with adjuncts, or online faculty, or whatever, makes this kind of massive restructuring of tenured faculty workloads possible.

*a new 2-hour+ commute is bad, but what about all the new satellite campuses of American universities springing up in Asia and the Gulf states? At the moment, at least at my university, working at those is voluntary, but need it be? I’m guessing probably so, but I’m not sure why — except that, perhaps, state university faculty have a reasonable expectations of working somewhere within the borders of their state. Historically, I have the impression that corporations (and some branches of the federal government) have been able to say “move across the world, or you don’t have a job with us anymore.”

As an adjunct, I once received a small transportation stipend when I was teaching at a college in one of the more far-flung parts of our metropolitan area. I don’t know if that school still does that, since the metropolis has crept much closer in the last decade+. If the powers that be at CSU-Pueblo are smart, they’ll start running a free Chinatown-bus style, wifi-equipped luxury coach shuttle between the two campuses, so professors can prep as they commute. Or maybe they’ll start offering relocation bonuses (but I’ve seen enough schemes of this sort collapse within a few years that I wouldn’t sell a house, let alone move a family, on the strength of one). Oddly, the nurses may be in a better bargaining position (because they may actually be harder to replace). But none of the above addresses the underlying question: can they really do this? Should they be able to do this?

Change in higher ed does seem to be becoming increasingly rapid, and drastic, and it’s still not clear to me how much of it addresses any real problem, and how much of it satisfies the desire of administrators who think like businesspeople always to be doing something dramatic, whether it’s useful or not.

4 02 2014
Contingent Cassandra

By the way, if you want to see a business professor acting all too much like a stereotypical business professor, check out NPR’s latest story on adjuncts (http://www.npr.org/2014/02/03/268427156/part-time-professors-demand-higher-pay-will-colleges-listen ), in which a tenured Cuyhoga Community College professor, Rudy Stralka, tries to argue that adjunct’s per-hour wages are fair based on the apparent assumption that all teaching labor takes place during scheduled class hours. Assuming the reporter didn’t misunderstand something, one has to wonder whether this guy deserves a job, let alone tenure. Someone did, at least, highlight the issue in the comments.

4 02 2014
Mazel

In addition to asking where these business profs were before this turn of events, we should be thinking about where they’ll be after. To put it bluntly, is this a golden opportunity to radicalize them?

4 02 2014
Jonathan Rees

Yup. Indeed, I’ve seen the beginnings of that process happen without any prodding at all.

5 02 2014
John

“This is going to be the ’4′ for those professors.”

Just curious exactly what this means. Are you saying that by teaching one course via commute, they will satisfy their full load for the term? Or will they teach 4 in Denver? or that they’ll teach 3, and the commute time will be counted as the 4th?

Wouldn’t really change the argument, as an expectation of switching to a 4 hour commute still seems outrageous. But from the point of view of understanding just how work conditions are being warped, I’d be happy to know. Thanks!

5 02 2014
Jonathan Rees

They have three courses in Pueblo now. A course in Denver would be their fourth each semester.

5 02 2014
K. Epps

I heard that they will only be on a 2-2 on campus, per someone who’s seen the fall schedules for other departments. I don’t know if that’s true or not. That would mean the Denver classes make it a 3-3 for them.

5 02 2014
Jonathan Rees

Kristen,

Even if you’re right (and I have no reason to believe you’re not), it’s still not worth it. I also heard that President Di Mare said in Senate on Monday that if they don’t commute north, there will be more cuts. The whole thing just stinks.

10 02 2014
Animals Blog

Your Dog Will Feel
[...] o you want to know how bad things are here at CSU-Pueblo right now? I feel sorry [...]

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