Greetings all. We were discussing hours worked, salaries, and workload of professors in the PFP course and this issue came up of professors being considered the “new leisure class”?? Here is one of several articles about the so-called “new leisure class” professors?? It is hard to believe that these articles were written/published. So it seems that there are some grievances out there.
Meet America’s “New leisure class”: High-paid professors who don’t teach
By Tom Nugent on August 31, 2001 12:00 am in Voices
After 14 years as a “migrant worker” in higher ed, I recently resigned
from my full-time, $12,500-a-year job as an “adjunct” journalism professor
to begin a new career as a full-time, free-lance writer.
Why quit college teaching? For starters, I can no longer survive on $12,500
a year — not with three children to raise.
Nor can I continue to teach without health insurance, life insurance, disability
coverage and the promise of at least a small pension when I reach retirement
Like most of the other 350,000 “adjuncts” in American higher education
today, I was slowly starving to death as a college writing teacher — while
the tenured professors, who teach far fewer students than the adjuncts, continued
to enjoy salaries of $50,000, $60,000 and even $80,000 per year for the senior
members of this very exclusive club.
Protected by the “tenure” system, and “safe” from firing,
most of these pampered profs teach only one or two courses a semester.
How outrageous is the continuing ripoff of the U.S. university system by what
the Wall Street Journal recently described as “The New Leisure Class?”
According to several authoritative surveys, the fat-cat profs are stealing shamelessly,
The average university professor today spends fewer than nine hours a week
teaching, according to data from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI).
The typical prof these days puts in fewer than eight hours a week in one-on-one
“office” sessions with his or her students.
Although the average U.S. college professor today spends fewer than 20 hours
a week working with students, the average annual paycheck is more than $40,000
a year in 1998 — with “full” professors averaging more than
$65,000 per year.
Shocking, isn’t it?
But you can be sure that there’s a price to be paid for this “professorial
gravy-train” — and that it’s being paid in college classrooms all
across America. How? According to many critics of American higher ed, these
inflated pay scales and midget-sized workloads frequently combine to cheat students
out of services to which they’re fully entitled, after paying for most of these
steep salaries (through tuition and taxes) in the first place.
Of course, the professors invariably attempt to blunt any attacks on their Royal
Perks by insisting that they’re required to “spend endless hours in research,”
in addition to teaching.
Yet several recent higher ed surveys show that for almost half of the professoriate,
such research consumes no more than five hours per week — while a full
45 percent of the nation’s professors publish no scholarly writings, whatsoever,
during any given two-year period.
In addition, a 1996 HERI survey found that more than 60 percent of all college
faculty members have never written or edited a book — and one-third have
never published a single journal article.
So much for the “research” argument.
So how does the professoriate attempt to refute these embarrassing numbers,
which now loom as the dirtiest little secret in higher ed?
Ask the blowhards on campus that question, and they’ll immediately begin to
huff and puff about “The glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was
Rome” — while scrambling to hide their yawning indolence behind “the
glorious tradition of the Humanities, which require endless reflection and meditation,
along with yearly, all-expenses-paid trips to Honolulu for academic conferences.”
The Great Student Ripoff seems especially outrageous when you realize that these
“royal privileges” work to undermine good teaching … since the Leisure
Class profs enjoy their idle hours only because a huge percentage of the college
teaching load is carried on the backs of the “part-timers.”
The adjuncts are the university equivalent of “Kelly Girl Temporaries.”
And these days, nearly half of the nation’s 800,000 college teachers are
wearing Kelly green.
Because the “temporaries” uniformly make about one-fourth of the wages
paid to the Leisure Class, and because they receive almost no “benefits”
(health insurance, for example), many wind up racing from one campus to the
next … with some teaching eight, nine and even 10 courses per semester to
And because the “temps” only work from semester to semester, their
contracts can be “cancelled” the moment a particular course falls
short of maximum enrollment, leaving them without expected income virtually
The impact on students is easy to observe. Just ask any harried freshman
to describe what it’s like to study under a platoon of exhausted part-timers
who never seem to have a moment to spare.
Meanwhile, the Privileged Profs go right on taking their opulent lifestyles
for granted — while frequently treating their students with snooty contempt.
Example: One evening a few semesters ago, a graduating senior at my former
school, the University of Maryland, made the terrible mistake of calling a veteran
English Department professor at home.
Because he faced a dilemma that might prevent him from graduating that semester,
the worried student dared the unthinkable: He telephoned the prof about 9:30
And the result?
“Who the hell do you think you are?” roared the supposed teacher,
“to call me at home like this? Do you know what time it is?”
Stunned, the student quickly apologized and hung up.
Too late, the shell-shocked senior realized that he should have replied with
a question of his own:
“Say, prof, who the hell do you think is paying that salary you don’t
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Nugent is the author of “Death At Buffalo Creek,”
published by W.W. Norton. He is now a free-lance writer living in Hastings,