and Part-Time Faculty
this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Greed/Greed102.htm
A note to those who are not from the University of Massachusetts at Boston (UMB). The Mass Media is a weekly newspaper published by students at UMB.
This item follows two earlier ones, titled "Greed 001, the Mass Media article of 3-27-97, and "Greed 101, Teaching Greed." Other notes are either in progress or planned.
The numbered footnotes, indicated by (1), (2), etc., are at the end of the piece.
How much is a teacher "worth"? Some time ago I attended a class here. The teacher, whom I'll call K (there is something Kafkaesque (1) about UMB), was very good, no complaint. Early in the term, soon after the class ended one day, I went looking for K. The department secretary said K, whose office hours were at other times, had already left. Not listed among faculty in the college catalog, K is one of many part-timers who teach here for a pittance, two courses in the fall and two in the spring, for $9,999.60. (2) I imagined K was obliged to get another part-time job and, in all likelihood, had to rush off that day to teach other classes at a second exploitative factory of "the higher learning" as Veblen (3) called it.
Is K "worth" only such a tiny fraction of the cost of a regular full-time teacher? Of course not! K is just another poorly paid wage-slave, forced to produce many student-credit-hours in order to survive in the great marketplace of "advanced" capitalism. Ideally, in the greedy eyes of the bean-counters--the well-dressed and groomed managers and manipulators who parade around the administration building--if K's classes are full, say with 28 students each, that $9,999.60 paid to K is for the instructional "human resources" component in the production of [(4 classes)x(28 students/class)x(3 student-credit-hours/student)=] 336 student-credit-hours. That part of production costs comes to $29.76 per student-credit-hour.
Compared to a regular full-time member of that department, whom I'll call B, with an annual rate of $63,668.28, it's a real steal (for the Philistines) to use part-timers--temps is the term in the straight-out corporate world. With B, incidentally an absolutely first-rate teacher, who gives 6 classes a year, the corresponding cost is $126.33 per student-credit-hour. For each student-credit-hour produced by K instead of B, there's a "saving" of $96.57. And K is not the lowest paid temp! Yes, by getting cheap teachers there's money to be saved, or, in their neutered corporatese, economy of production to be acheived, like with the Haitian women I mentioned in Greed 101. It's how the market works in a greed-dominated culture.
So how does it happen that someone like K gets $9,999.60 and someone like Sherry Penney (4) gets $161,950.36, Sherry Penney who, according to the Mass Media account of 3/27/97, "declined comment regarding the salary" of Betty Diener, (5) ($127,177.96). Does this have anything to do with greed? Or are such disparities accurate reflections of large differences in "merit"? I'll get to merit, the annual faculty reports and "evaluations"--all that divisive bullshit, but first let's consider greed. How can you tell if someone is greedy? For example, if you simply walked up to, say Louis Esposito (6) ($127,304.32), and said, "Excuse me, Dr. Esposito, I'm conducting a survey on the attitudes of administrators and would like to ask you just a few questions. It will only take several minutes. The first is: Are you greedy?" What do you think his response would be? Of course he wouldn't answer. But let's carry this fantasy a little further.
Suppose you were a bit more subtle and you sought out a sympathetic faculty member, say Z, one regardful of the work done by administrators and troubled by newspaper attacks on the university. On some social occasion the good professor Z might say, "You know Lou, it bothers me how the media dump on UMB and treat our administrators as though they are as greedy as the doctors who administer the Harvard Medical institutions. How can we deal with this bad press?" I imagine Esposito thinking that he isn't greedy--of course not--that he works very hard and really earns his pay, so what's needed, he says to Z, is some good PR. (7) In a word, no one considers himself or herself greedy, so you can't find out by just asking.
Then how can you tell? It's easy. Two criteria are sufficient. First, the individual wants more, though already paid at least enough to provide a modest living (unlike K). And second, the individual invariably compares his or her pay to that of more-highly-paid people in similar jobs, never to that of people lower down on the pay scale. I'm willing to bet that most of the people who get $50,000 or more meet both criteria.
Greedy people are always aiming to get more. Some are better at it than others. Let's introduce a quantitative scale to measure "degree of hustling", i.e. how successful one is in satisfying his or her greed. Someone who's "on the make" is called in Yiddish ein macher, literally, a maker. (8) We can designate someone whose pay is $100,000 a Mach-1 macher; $200,000 a Mach-2 macher, and so on (with apologies to Ernst Mach, after whom the Mach numbers for supersonic flight are named). It's a bit crude, but then so is the subject.
Suppose you want to be a big macher. What should you do? I think the most effective thing is to demonstrate that you can be useful to the power structure, and that you will be loyal to those who outrank you. Who better exemplifies that than Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, ready to do the bidding of whoever was president? The rule is: Always be subservient to power. Better yet, be eagerly subservient, not just agreeably so. The same rule also holds locally, at UMB. Mr. Zurawicki is undoubtedly correct in believing that meritorious hard work alone just won't do it in these halls of "the higher learning."
Well, I didn't get to the injustices to which students and graduate students are subjected, but I will. It's on my agenda.
1 I have in mind particularly The Castle, by Franz Kafka.
2 The figures I use here are from Faculty and Staff Salary Listing, dated 11/18/96, supplied to me by the Dept of Human Resources. They are shown as the "annual rate[s]" of pay.
3 Thorstein Veblen, The Higher Learning in America: A Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities by Business Men. This critique of American "higher education" by Veblen, best known for his The Theory of the Leisure Class, is decorous yet biting. I recommend it to all UMB administrators.
4 Sharon Penney Livingston, the current chancellor, is the highest-paid administrator on the UMB campus. For some reason she is not very happy here and has been actively seeking higher-paying administrative posts at other factories of "higher learning." The annual rate does not list her other perquisites, probably the least of which is free parking.
5 Betty Diener, Professor of Marketing, is another product of the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Compared to its more illustrious alumnae, like Carlos Salinas Gortari, who helped rob Mexico blind while President, she's small fry, but at UMB she's a pretty big fish.
6 The current vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, Mr. Esposito is, appropriately, a professor of economics.
7 PR is the acronym standing for public relations.
8 In German the term ein macher (feminine eine macherin) means a maker of something, but I don't know if it also means someone who's "on the make."
--G.S., April 15, 1997
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