Saturday, April 13, 2013

Check out my other blogs.

I have not updated this blog in a long time, but just in case, Blogger deletes sites that are inactive, I am updating to keep it in the blogosphere as a record of what happened to my WMU career.

If you have followed a link here from one of my classes, I am not using this blog regularly these days, though I may start.

Here is my regular blog work in 2013: 365 T-shirts: a sense of doubt blog.

However, I do consider this to be my main blog here at  SENSE OF DOUBT, which I should update more often.

People who travel here from the blog address I post on class room web sites will find RANDITION SWOOM, which is meant to be my site for academic related content and other "content providing" from the Internet.


Friday, July 10, 2009


WMU named one of 'Best Colleges to Work For'

July 8, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Relying on feedback collected from faculty and staff and an institutional audit of practices and policies, the Chronicle of Higher Education has named Western Michigan University one of America's Great Colleges to Work For.

WMU among top 10

The University was named one of the top-10 large colleges in the nation in five separate categories of the Chronicle's second annual survey of American colleges and universities, the results of which were announced in the July 6 edition of the publication. Some 122 four-year institutions earned a ranking in at least one of the 26 areas measured in three broad categories: work environment, pay and benefits, and institutional policies.

WMU's top-10 placements came in recognition of its offerings and best practices in providing health care benefits, tuition remission, life insurance, disability insurance, and post-retirement benefits.

Great Colleges to Work For

The Chronicle's Great Colleges to Work For program recognizes small groups of colleges (based on enrollment size) for specific best practices and policies, such as compensation and benefits, faculty-administration relations, and confidence in senior leadership. Only two other Michigan schools made the 2009 list. They are the University of Michigan, which was recognized in nine categories, and Wayne State University, which won praise in four areas.

The Chronicle based its assessments on a random survey of the University's full-time faculty, administrators and professional staff conducted in April as well as an institutional audit that captured demographics, and workplace policies and practices. According to Chronicle editor Jeffrey J. Selingo, the primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was the employee feedback collected through the random anonymous survey.

"Our campus community knows that Western Michigan University offers a great academic work environment," said WMU President John M. Dunn of the Chronicle recognition. "This is an important acknowledgement of what we do well as a University, and it's all the more important because it was the affirmation of our faculty and staff--the people at the heart of our University--that led to this recognition."

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle of Higher Education turned to ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous "Best Places to Work" programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide. Recognition in one or more areas is seen as a positive recruiting tool for faculty and staff.

"Through this program, The Chronicle is able to provide more information to job seekers about the colleges that are the leading innovators when it comes to providing a rewarding work environment," said Chronicle Editor Selingo.

Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education is a leading source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators. Based in Washington, D.C., the newspaper has a weekly print readership of 350,000 and Web traffic of more than 14 million pages a month.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Breadth of Adjunct Use and Abuse

Breadth of Adjunct Use and Abuse

The use of adjuncts is well known among academics, but many believe that these instructors are utilized primarily in certain areas (such as the humanities) or certain types of institutions (such as community colleges). But a report being released today by the American Federation of Teachers suggests that the breadth and depth of adjunct use is greater than many realize — such that they are teaching a majority of public college and university courses, and are a major force in a wide range of disciplines.

The report — “Reversing Course: The Troubled State of Academic Staffing and a Path Forward”

— is designed to publicize the extent of adjunct use with a mind toward encouraging more colleges to either improve the pay they offer adjuncts or shift more of their positions to the tenure track. Along those lines, the AFT is releasing a new tool that allows colleges to calculate the costs of changing staffing policies. The goal is to show that modest changes may be possible — even in tight budget years like this one — and that over time, such changes could have a meaningful impact on the makeup of faculties and the compensation of adjuncts.

It has been too easy for administrators to ignore the issue of adjunct use as something other than widespread, and this study “debunks” that view by focusing not only on numbers of individuals, but courses taught, said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the AFT union at the City University of New York, at a briefing on the report. Part timers are being used nationwide “in all disciplines” and in many cases at “completely non-professional salaries,” Bowen said.

“Most people don’t know the situation,” said Lawrence N. Gold, director of higher education at the AFT. He acknowledged that there will be no immediate shift from relying on adjuncts to creating tenure-track positions. But he said that, if more of the public comes to understand what has happened to public higher education, progress can be made. The AFT and other faculty groups have argued that while many adjunct instructors are great classroom teachers, their working conditions — such as lack of office hours, being cut off from curricular decisions, being forced to move from campus to campus — result in a reduced quality of education, and erode the job security vital for academic freedom.

The report was prepared for the AFT by John B. Lee, whose consulting and research business JBL Associates has done previous studies for the union. Lee primarily used data from the Education Department’s National Study of Postsecondary Faculty. In many cases, however, Lee grouped data in new ways.

One key change — which Lee says is important to get a sense of the extent of teaching by non-tenure-track faculty — was his decision to include graduate students as adjuncts if they are responsible for managing a course. So graduate students who serve as teaching assistants under the supervision of a professor are not counted, and their courses are not counted as being taught by adjuncts. But courses led entirely by graduate students are.

The focus of the report is on public institutions, including community colleges, where adjunct use is particularly high (although the use of graduate students is not). But the report shows that public four-year colleges and research universities are also making widespread use of adjuncts. Across public colleges and universities, the report finds that full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty members make up only 41 percent of instructional staff, while full-time non-tenure-track make up 20 percent, part-time faculty members off the tenure track make up 20 percent, and graduate employees are another 19 percent.

The AFT study comes at a time of increased attention among academic groups on the use of non-tenure-track faculty members. At the annual meeting of college human resources leaders in October, one senior member of the field stunned colleagues by denouncing the way adjuncts are treated and calling for major reforms. A few colleges — such as Elon University — have undertaken campaigns to increase the percentage of their courses taught by tenure-track professors. But in many other cases, long campaigns by adjuncts to improve their pay and benefits have been rejected. Next week, the Modern Language Association will release a report also documenting the accelerating trend of reliance on part-timers for teaching college courses.

In the case of the AFT report, here are some of the key data.

Percentage of Undergraduate Courses at Public Colleges and Universities Taught by Contingent Instructors


Community Colleges

Four-Year Colleges

Research Universities









Engineering/computer science




Fine arts




Health science




Human services








Life sciences




Natural/physical sciences




Social sciences




Vocational education








The report says that there are many reasons to be concerned about these numbers. A primary focus is on the limited ability of adjunct professors to fully participate in campus life and be available to students. But another reason cited is that adjuncts are not paid appropriately.

Comparisons between tenure-track and non-tenure-track instructors are difficult, the report acknowledges, because many tenured or tenure-track faculty members have specific responsibilities outside of teaching, while most adjuncts are hired to teach only. This gap in responsibilities is especially notable at research universities, the report says. However, it says that the pay gap — if measuring salary divided by courses taught — is unacceptably large, even when factoring in mission differences.

Across sectors, the study finds that full-time faculty members are paid on average four times what a part-time faculty member is paid per course. Even with job differences, “it is not reasonable to suggest that contingent faculty members, particularly part-time/adjunct faculty members, deserve to be paid at the disproportionately low wages they currently earn for the valuable service they provide.”

Salary comparisons follow. The “other salary” category includes pay for teaching in the summer, administrative responsibilities, coaching, etc.

Average Salary Per Course, by Job Status, Public Higher Education in 2003-4

Faculty Status

Basic Annual Salary

Other Salary

Salary Per Course

Community college

—Full time, tenured or tenure track




—Full time, non-tenure track




—Part time




Public four-year college

—Full time, tenured or tenure track




—Full time, non-tenure track




—Part time




Public research university

—Full time, tenured or tenure track




—Full time, non-tenure track




—Part time




The goal of the AFT report is to prompt colleges to reconsider their use of and treatment of adjuncts. Specifically, along the principles of an AFT campaign called Faculty and College Excellence (or FACE), the main goals are to have 75 percent of undergraduate courses taught by full-time, tenure-track faculty members and to have part timers or adjuncts receive pro rata pay and benefits.

The tool allows colleges to put in data on their current staffing patterns and to then find the costs associated with increasing the share of courses taught by those on the tenure track or improving adjunct pay or some combination. Gold noted that the tool may help, even in tough economic times, by demonstrating that progress along these lines is possible. The costs of fully embracing FACE goals in a year might be daunting, but perhaps not some forward movement, he suggested.

“It’s time for us to frame the discussion appropriately,” he said. “We’re taking a long term, incremental approach.”

Scott Jaschik

Posted from

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another lovely show of support

Great WESTERN HERALD column about how the fact that I will no longer be teaching impacts students. I have been a fan of Heather Forgione's writing since she came to WMU, long before she was my student.

Click the link (make comments!!)

or here's the column (in case the link expires)

Former professor will be known for impacting and portraying real life to students

Every person has had a teacher who has made an imprint on his or her life; someone who reached out, someone they learned a lot from. There will always be that teacher who we will remember.
That teacher might not ever know the extent of the impression that they left on you, but you will never forget that year, or semester they were your teacher and what they taught you.

I have a few teachers that I will always remember; one who believed in me, another who always made me laugh and another who taught me more about myself and the kind of person I want to be. The last was a former professor at Western Michigan University.

This professor does not work here anymore, and because of that I feel great pain in knowing that the future students of WMU will never have the pleasure of taking his class. Chris Tower was a crazy, 70s hippy, corny, male feminist and was one of the best professors at this university. That is until WMU no longer wanted his expertise.

Chris Tower taught Women’s Studies 1000. He went to extremes to show us what most of our generation do not see.

WMU has banned him from the minds of the students that go to this university. I consider that a sad thing. WMU is ranked as one of the best colleges in the country. Why do you think that is? We have some of the most amazing professors at this university teaching us. It breaks my heart to know that one of those great professors is no longer here.

Some of the greatest teaching experiences in this country have been called ludicrous, eccentric, and have been banned because it was thought to hurt the minds of young people.

Slaughter House five, Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, all banned from the bookshelves of schools until we found the knowledge behind the cover. All those books and more are being taught today in schools because of the truth that they hold, the brilliant writings that show us the value of reading them.

Chris Tower was banned from WMU because of his eccentric way of teaching.

Let me tell you about what Chris Tower taught me. He taught me more about myself and the way I feel I should be treated. At the beginning of the semester, he told us what we were going to encounter in his class. We watched movies such as Fatal Attraction, and Sin City, viewed advertisements where women were portrayed sexually.

We are adults are we not? We came to college to further our minds, to open our eyes to different perspectives and learn from only the best.

A professor’s contract ended because someone did not like the idea of eccentric ideas being shown in a classroom. It was shown for a reason, one that was to depict how our generation views women, what we are suppose to look like, act like, and what we are suppose to be.

Some professors might just tell you of the horrible ways that women are being portrayed in the media; women being tied up and beaten, but Tower showed us. Anybody can tell you about women studies, but Towers showed you, he stuck it in your face and made you smell the truth. A good teacher can tell you everything you need to know, but a great teacher can show you.

It was his eccentric teaching that caught my attention to the subject matter. He pushed his students to the limit.

Tower taught me that women should be equal to men, and we are still far from being equal. In the media today, the equality that we tried to fight for is not becoming closer because we are letting this pretrial of women stay. It is almost like we have given up.

Remember the Dove advertisement about a year ago? They made a statement for women, average size, beauty, and different colors of women. If you remember the advertisements you also remember how people ridiculed Dove, saying that they do not want to see real women on posters and on television, but models. It was ideas like these that we discussed in Tower’s class.

Tower made me take a second look at women in advertisements, a second listen to lyrics in rap and pop music, and a second thought about what I believe was right and to stand up for what I believe in.

Chris Tower will be remembered at this university for all those feminist shirts he wore, his crazy hippy personality, corny jokes, and his eccentric teaching that opened up my mind to women in today’s media, and the new way I view the media, women and myself.

Heather Forgione, a Western Herald opinion columnist, is a senior majoring in journalism and can be reached via e-mail at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Click on the image. Great Blog resource for poor, suffering adjunct faculty.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Opinion Column about my situation from August 12th

The following is an editorial column that appeared in the Western Herald on August 12, 2008. I am posting it here for interested people to have access. I am also interested in the difference of Cheryl Roland's reasoning in this quote vs. how she is quoted in the Kalamazoo Gazette article from June the link to which (and if it ever expires I will post the full text) is also posted here on this blog. I would welcome comments here and as always on the Facebook group, linked elsewhere on the blog. The column here is reprinted with permission of the author in its pre-edited form. Author: Kimberly M Schoetzow. Thank you for your time.


Western Michigan University prides itself on recognizing excellence in teaching contributions and allowing instructors academic freedom in the classroom. So why did Western Michigan University also recently cave in to a non-justified parent complaint that resulted in the unemployment of one of the highest ranked professors in the University?

Former professor Chris Tower of the Gender and Women's Studies department did not receive a contract for the Fall 2008 semester for, as he believes, displaying "inappropriate" music videos in class. Not only did he not receive a contract, he didn't receive anything, not even an explanation.

"Mr. Tower's not being asked back was a personnel decision," said Cheryl Roland, Executive Director of University Relations. "It would not be ethical to discuss why he was not asked back." Roland alluded to the videos being one of several factors as to why Tower was not given a contract.

"The administration has not revealed to me what these other factors may be," Tower said. "I think the University has been very negligent in not giving me an opportunity to defend myself. I'm 100 percent certain that I haven't violated any ethical standards of conduct so whatever they think they have on me is either rumor or is just not true."

Along with Tower's dismissal, the feeling of instructor control over academic freedom has also left WMU as well as any sort of respect for adjunct professors.

"I've been told by many of my colleagues that there are meetings, memos and a variety of warnings to adjunct professors since what happened with me," Tower said. "Many of my now former colleagues have reported to me that there is a lot of concern and a lot of fear that the same thing could happen to them. This is going to change the climate of academic freedom at Western."

When Roland was asked if a message to "play it safe" is now spreading through campus, she responded by saying students and faculty members have nothing to worry about. But according to Tower, who's the poster boy in this attack on academic freedom, we have a lot to worry about.

Most of the videos played in Tower's class can also be regularly seen on MTV or basically anywhere on the Internet. If such a simple and easily accessible form of media is now seen as "controversial", what's next? Will we not be allowed to dissect sexual organs in anatomy classes for fear of it being lewd? Will discussing rape in the use of war be seen as over-analytical?

Not only should "controversial" issues be talked about here, they should be magnified. A college campus is supposed to foster a community of learning, acceptance and progressive notions. By stifling what teachers can and cannot do for fear of overprotective parent complaints, we are bowing down to the world as it was, not as it will be.

WMU is entering a patch of thin ice since Tower's situation. Instead of other adjunct professors being worried about losing their jobs too for simply teaching, perhaps teachers and students alike should join together against ignorant parents and against a closed-minded administration to get those teachers contracts and get Tower back on staff.

For more information on Tower's situation and to learn how to support his return to campus, visit the online Facebook group titled 'Save WMS 1000 and Tower!'