Some Hard Stats about University Teaching

Thinking about becoming a university professor?  Read Kevin Birmingham’s “The Great Shame of Our Profession” before making definite plans.

A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays….

According to the 2014 congressional report, adjuncts’ median pay per course is $2,700. An annual report by the American Association of University Professors indicated that last year “the average part-time faculty member earned $16,718” from a single employer. Other studies have similar findings. Thirty-one percent of part-time faculty members live near or below the poverty line.


It’s amusing to think of all the underpaid university adjuncts striking for a “living wage.”  Unfortunately, the pool of potential “scabs” is way too deep for any strike to be effective for more than one semester.

Of course, not all disciplines have the same problems.  My department is chronically desparate to find enough statisticians to teach all our courses, and I’ve been comfortably esconced in a non-tenure track job for over 15 years.  But statisticians are rare birds, and everyone I’ve talked too allows as how it’s far too late for them to swot up on their math and stats to become employable.

Tip from the Instapundit, who knows exploitation when he sees it.

Calculus as a Microagression

Shield yourself.

Yesterday I was cautioned by the recounting of an event that occurred in our College of Business.  It seems that a lecturer was explaining a concept that required either averaging or the area under a curve, and resorted to writing an integral on the board, by way of illustration.  This was NOT a demonstration of technique, nor an explanation of how to perform calculations required in the course, rather just background.  However, one student–correctly recalling that calculus was not a prerequisite–took umbrage; he wrote a letter of complaint to the Dean!  Holy hellfire sh!t! Just last week I spent 10 minutes explaining to my calculus-averse biostatistics students how the standard normal table was constructed (integration does not conquer all).  I had no idea I was skating so close to the edge.  Probably because I’m an idiot or a lunatic.

Sex Discrimination in STEM Faculty Hiring

Well, it’s official; a study completed by the Cornell Institute for Women in Science has revealed clear and pervasive sex discrimination in the hiring of university faculty in the STEM fields.

Tip from Time Magazine, who observes that many universities have policies that will only make the problem worse.