We recently had the latest Heidegger scandal, and now we have Louis Menand on the increasingly bizarre case of Paul DeMan, whom Menand plausibly describes as a "sociopath" rather than simply a Nazi collaborator and anti-semite, given his many years of fraud, misrepresentations, and lies. Of course, Menand has another aim, namely, to defend DeMan's work in literary theory, to defend (remarkably) its "rigor." At moments like this, one realizes that even words like "rigor" require indexicals attached, since "rigor a la Menand" has nothing to do with what you might have thought the word meant, as anyone who has read DeMan's "rigorous" misreadings of Nietzsche will know. In any case, a somewhat less forgiving account than Menand's of DeMan's bizarre life is here.
I crunched the numbers in the AAUP report, looking at the total "real" change in salary over the period reported -- namely, 1971 to the present.
I calculate both the figures for "all faculty" and "continuing faculty", in each case broken out by rank and in the aggregate.
The figures for "all faculty" answer the following (interesting) question. Suppose that in 2014 Ellen is of Rank R in the Department of Z at a school of type Y; suppose that in 1972 Larry was of Rank R (at an equivalent career-point) in the Department of Z at a school of type Y. How much more (or less!) does Ellen make in real terms than Larry?
Although the declining welfare of Instructors drags down the All Ranks figure, eyeballing the other three Rank classes suggests that in general the "professoriate" is doing slightly better now than in 1972. (Though the combination of decline at Associate with boost at Professor suggests that this may well involve significant redistribution toward "star" faculty lured away by outside offers.)
The figures for "continuing faculty" answer the following (somewhat absurd) question. Suppose that Larry stayed on at Rank R from 1972 to 2014. How much more does he make now in real terms than then?
The question is of little interest in itself. But the results do lend credibility to the parenthetical speculation above: Professor seems to be in general a salary plateau for those who don't move around, in contrast with non-moving Associates with salaries more rapidly advancing toward that eventual plateau. If Professors are despite this doing better than Associates, that suggests significant redistribution toward the top end for Professors who move.
Other comments welcome from those who have taken the time to analyze the data.
Here. Mostly positive news. Note that the "top ten" lists for faculty salaries exclude medical school faculty, but include business school and law school faculty--very significant for a place like Chicago (and Rutgers-Newark and Maryland-Baltimore!), and makes the strong showing of Princeton, with neither, quite notable.
CHE reported on this outfit a number of years ago. Created by some Stony Brook professors, it purports to evaluate schools on "scholarly productivity." Some of its metrics are without any qualitative dimension to them at all: per capita productivity of books and articles, for example (the more shit you shovel, the better you do). Other criteria, such as per capita citations and "awards" per faculty member, introduce some qualitative dimensions to the exercise. But their results are mostly bizarre; here, for example, are the "top ten" in philosophy according to Academic Analytics a few years ago:
1. Michigan State University 2. CUNY Graduate School 2. Princeton University 4. University of Virginia 5. Rutgers 6. University of California – San Diego 7. Pennsylvania State University 8. The University of Texas at Austin 9. SUNY at Stony Brook 10. Rice University
As a list of the "top ten" departments in philosophy, this comes close to qualifying as "random."
A philosopher elsewhere, whose university is thinking of paying the rather substantial fees (tens of thousands of dollars) for this "service," wants to know what others knows about Academic Analytics: "how it gathers material, analyses it, and presents it. How does it compare with the most recent NRC rankings? What kind of staff does it employ? What universities have used it and what was their verdict about how reliable/useful it was?"
I haven't done one of these in several years--this is an aggregation of reputational surveys done by U.S. News on graduate programs, which tend to give decent, if imperfect, information (based on my conversations with scholars in various fields). The fields included here are from the Social Sciences & Humanities (Economics, English, History, Political Science, Psychology & Sociology, plus Philosophy from the 2011 PGR), the Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Math, Physics, Statistics), Law, and Medicine. Universities received 4 points for each program in the top five; 3 points for each additional program in the top ten; 2 points for each additional program in the top 15; 1 point for each additional program in the top 25; and .5 points for each additional programa in the top 35. Note that the following schools have neither a medical nor law school: Princeton, MIT, Cal Tech. The following schools lack either a law school or a medical school: Berkeley, UCSD, Brown, UT Austin, Johns Hopkins, Illinois/Urbana.
After each school name is the total number of points, the number of fields in which the school had a "top 25" program (maximum is 16), the number of fields in which the school had a top 35 program (if different), and the number of "top five" programs.
1. Stanford University (63 total, top 25/16 fields, 15 top five programs)
2. Harvard University (59 total, top 25/16 fields, 13 top five programs)
3. University of California, Berkeley (56 total, top 25/15 fields, 12 top five programs)
4. Princeton University (45 total, top 25/13 fields, 8 top five programs)
5. Yale University (43.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 4 top five programs)
6. Columbia University (43 total, top 25/16 fields, 3 top five programs)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (43 total, top 25/16 fields, 4 top five programs)
8. University of Chicago (40.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 5 top five programs)
9. Massachussetts Institute of Technology (37.5 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/11, 7 top five programs)
10. University of California, Los Angeles (34.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 1 top five program)
11. Cornell University (31 total, top 25/16 fields, 0 top five programs)
11. University of Pennsylvania (31 total, top 25/13 fields, top 35/15, 2 top five programs)
13. University of Wisconsin, Madison (29.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 1 top five program)
14. Duke University (25.5 total, top 25/13 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
15. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (23.5 total, top 25/11 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
16. California Institute of Technology (23 total, top 25/7 fields, 4 top five programs)
16. University of Texas, Austin (23 total, top 25/12 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
18. Johns Hopkins University (22 total, top 25/9 fields, top 35/13, 3 top five programs)
19. Northwestern University (21.5 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/15, 0 top five programs)
20. University of Washington, Seattle (20 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
21. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (19.5 total, top 25/8 fields, top 35/13, 1 top five program)
22. New York University (19 total, top 25/9 fields, top 35/11, 1 top five program)
22. University of California, San Diego (19 total, top 25/11 fields, top 35/13, 0 top five programs)
24. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (15 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
25. Washington University, St. Louis (14.5 total, top 25/6 fields, top 35/11, 1 top five program)
Brown University (12 total, top 25/8, top 35/12, 0 top five programs)
Ohio State University (11.5 total, top 25/6 fields, top 35/15, 0 top five programs)
University of Virginia (11 total, top 25/5 fields, top 35/11, 0 top five programs)
Other schools studied:
Pennsylvania State University (10 total, top 25/5 fields, top 35/11, 0 top five programs)
Carnegie-Mellon University (9.5 total, top 25/4 fields, top 35/5, 1 top five program)
University of California, Davis (9.5 total, top 25/5 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
Indiana University, Bloomington (9 total, top 25/6, top 35/10, 0 top five programs)
University of Maryland, College Park (8.5 total, top 25/5, top 35/8, 0 top five programs)
Rutgers University, New Brunswick (8 total, top 25/4, top 35/6, 1 top five program)
Addendum: We did look at some other schools--Southern California, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Emory, Purdue, Arizona, Colorado, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, CUNY, among others--but it was clear they would not come close to 8 points total, and so we did not finalize the scores.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM LAST YEAR (SINCE TIMELY AGAIN--originanlly posted March 6, 2009)
Applicants to PhD and MA programs are now receiving offers of admission and, if they are lucky, are beginning to weigh choices between different departments. I want to reiterate a point made in the PGR, namely, that students are well-advised to talk to current students at the programs they are considering. There are often things you will want to know that you won't glean from familiarity with the excellence of the faculty's work, even if that remains the most important, if defeasible, reason for choosing a particular department. Here are some examples of information that no ranking, no departmental brochure, and no "official" departmental representive will tell you about; all of these are drawn from stories I've heard from students over the last few years about ranked departments (the departments will remain unnamed, obviously). You can think of them as representing "types" of problems you should be aware of before enrolling. I've tweaked some of the details to protect identities.
The Absent Faculty: Are the faculty who look so good on paper actually around and interested in working with students? I heard a story about a key senior person in one department who is an alcoholic, and who simply ignores his students. In another department, almost all the graduate students had to sign an open letter to the faculty a few years ago protesting the failure of faculty to return graded papers and their general lack of interest in mentoring the students. In yet another department, a well-known senior member of the faculty spent so much time travelling and lecturing around the world, that he rarely had time to review or discuss work carefully with students.
The Sexual Predator Faculty: Are women treated as young philosophers and aspiring professionals, or do faculty regularly view them as a potential source for dates and sexual liasons? It's a bit shocking to realize that this is still a live issue in some departments, but, sadly, it is. Are faculty-student sexual relations common in the department? What happens when the relations end? Are there repeated cases of sexual harassment complaints against faculty in the department? Do they ever result in discipline? I suppose it is possible this could be an issue for male students, but all the reports I've gotten over the years have been from women victimized by male faculty.
The Nasty Faculty: Talented philosophers and scholars often differ, dramatically, in how pleasant they are personally and professionally. I recall the story of one department where a member of the faculty was known to reduce students to tears in seminar. In another department, a faculty member regularly refuses to work with students, even those interested in his areas; he works only with those he deems "worthy," and there are not many of them! In another department, faculty openly express doubts about the competence of the graduate students and their ability. Make sure the philosophers who seem most interesting to you don't fall into these categories!
The Factionalized Faculty: Many faculties are "factionalized," in the sense that there are sub-groups that rarely see "eye to eye" about departmental issues, from appointments to admissions. Where this becomes worrisome, though, for a prospective student is when certain members of the faculty who share interests and approaches control all the key resources--fellowships, resources for speakers etc.--and use that control to define "in" and "out" groups of faculty and students: students with the "wrong" philosophical interests or who express an interest in the "wrong" faculty members are denied access to important perks and support. This kind of ugly factionalization is less common, but it exists.
I wish it were possible to meaningfuly measure and evaluate faculties along these important dimensions, but, alas, it is not. I have no doubt there are many programs that are really exceptional for how pleasant they are as places to do graduate study, and the way for a prospective student to discover them is to talk to lots of current students.
...for arguing that funding misinformation about climate change should give rise to charges of criminal negligence. That isn't the law at present, and there are a number of reasons why it probably shouldn't be the law, but Professor Torcello's essay raises some interesting points about the harms of misinformation campaigns and whether they are legally cognizable. (If the real target is those who knowingly fund misinformation for private gain, then "negligence" would be the wrong legal standard. The issues here, it seems to me, are closer to those regarding the regulation of "hate speech" and other speech that causes harm.)
Alas, climate change is one of those hot button issues for the far right, which quickly swung into action, starting with misrepresenting Professor Torcello as calling for climate scientists who dispute the consensus to be put in jail. That soon turned into a campaign to get the Rochester Institute of Technology to punish Professor Torcello for his constitutionally protected speech, and speech that falls well within his contractual right to academic freedom. The hysteria and misrepresentations made its way into all the usual far right venues, including Fox News. Professor Torcello made a brief statement in response to the craziness here. RIT made what is, to my mind, a tepid statement about the matter, but one that at least affirms his right to have views of which others disapprove.
I sent the following e-mail to President Destler, cc'ing Provost Haefner and Dean Winebrake; I encourage readers to send the same or similar messages (the e-mail addresses appear below). This kind of organized harassment of faculty by the far right happens too often, and universities should be encouraged to take a stronger stand against this malevolent behavior.
Several readers have sent this report (also this) according to which Peter Ludlow has had to withdraw from the classroom in the wake of various student protests demanding his firing. Northwestern disciplined Ludlow based on its findings, and it is quite debatable whether the punishment was serious enough. But that he should be driven from the classroom because of this debate? That seems an unhappy outcome for a university. Or as one correspondent put it: "not exactly a victory for due process and/or academic freedom." (This correspondent, a senior philosopher with tenure elsewhere, did not want to be quoted by name making this mild observation.)
On the corner of Trumbull and Hillhouse, nine protesters held signs and handed out fliers about reports of sexual misconduct at Yale. Protesters demanded stiffer punishments, including expulsion, for both faculty and student offenders. Several of the protesters’ placards named the Divinity School, Philosophy, Physical Sciences, Pharmacology and Egyptology departments as harboring alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct.
“We wouldn’t be making these claims without hard evidence,” said protester [and philosopher] Heidi Howkins Lockwood GRD ’09....
Lockwood said previous faculty offenders have been given generous six-figure severance packages while victims have allegedly been financially incentivized to remain silent through non-disclosure agreements. While she added that other schools have issues with sexual misconduct, Lockwood claimed Yale was unique because of its “culture of silence"....
According to a press release from the protestors, Yale’s previous response to sexual misconduct on campus has been inadequate. Further, they are asking for administrators to publicly apologize for asking victims to sign nondisclosure agreements....
Lockwood said one department at Yale saw four faculty members accused of sexual misconduct in the past five years. One of those faculty members remains employed by the University today.
Professor Clune's piece raises an interesting point: namely, what's going on in English Departments today may not be what people like Alex and myself remember from the "bad old days," like the 1980s, when English Departments were (as Princeton's A. Walton Litz put it--I am paraphrasing from memory) "the repository for all the world's bad philosophy, bad social science, and bad history." (Litz left the English Department at Princeton and moved to Creative Writing because, as he put it, he wanted to be around people "who liked reading literature.")
So readers, especially those of you in English Departments, what's the story? Is Prof. Clune right or Prof. Rosenberg? Or is the reality somewhere inbetween?
Signed comments--full name and valid e-mail address--will be strongly preferred. (One reason for valid e-mail addresses is that sometimes I need to ask the commenter a question about what appears to be an error or typo. I do not disclose the e-mail addresses to anyone else.)
Frederick Wiseman's latest documentary about the effects of the neoliberal agenda on Berkeley has been attracting a good deal of attention and commentary. As the latter piece points out, the Reagan revolution from the right has basically continued through multiple Democratic Administrations, and one of the casualties has been the idea of "public" higher education. From a Marxist point of view, none of this is surprising--what will be surprising is whether nominally democratic capitalist societies actually reverse course. I'm not hopeful, but also hope I'm wrong!
To put it bluntly, the current state of academic publishing is the result of a series of strong-arm tactics enabling publishers to pry copyrights from authors, and then charge exorbitant fees to university libraries for access to that work. The publishers have inverted their role as disseminators of knowledge and become bottlers of knowledge, releasing it exclusively to the highest bidders.
That's also to put it a bit too crudely: in fact, publishers provide value, through copy-editing, preservation, and distribution of scholarship. They need to recoup those costs, and they do that, partly, through copyright. Without a doubt, some publishers, especially in the sciences, have been exploiting their market position not just to recoup costs, but to extract substantial profits and to restrict access to knowledge considerably. Aaron Swartz (the anniversary of his suicide is the occasion for Peter's piece) was a victim of prosecutorial over-reaching, which happens much more than people realize, but usually not to middle-class white kids. That doesn't mean Peter's "blunt" characterization of academic publishing is wholly fair. (Peter will be a guest-blogger again in the Spring, so readers will no doubt get to hear more from him on this subject then.)
[Professor] Adler said that while she was gratified that all of the reviews cleared her, the fact that her course "had to undergo this extraordinary scrutiny to reverse CU’s initial jump to judgment is a sad statement on what is occurring in universities." She added: "My victory today is a small one, and mostly Pyrrhic, because the trends toward mission creep and overreach by bodies such as the Office of Discrimination and Harassment and Institutional Review Boards are increasingly dominating decision-making in higher education. Universities and schools at all levels around the globe are increasingly sacrificing academic freedom as they become more concerned with risk and liability than with creating an environment in which creativity and ideas can flourish and students can be challenged to expand their horizons."
A spokesman for the university said that it would not respond directly to Adler's statement, although it does disagree with it. But the spokesman added: "The institution's motivation at all times in this situation was concern for the the welfare of students and teaching assistants."
IHE reports that the Governor is proposing increased funding (contingent on tuition freezes). I'd be curious to hear from readers "on the ground" at UC and Cal State campuses how things are in terms of finances.
For the problems of the humanities are self-inflicted wounds well recognized by their colleagues in other faculties. First, over the last two generations the humanities (except for philosophy) have lost faith with their callings as the bearers of a continuous cultural inheritance–a canon, for want of a better word. They have viewed the need to widen their curricula as a zero sum game, in which the entrance of more women, underrepresented minorities, nonwestern peoples has required the exclusion of more dead white dudes. Maybe it has. But the result has been an advanced curriculum their students find foreign and their colleagues educated before this sea change cannot appreciate. The “boutique” courses they teach in their majors, the heavy doses of “theory” they lay on in graduate classes, make it difficult to connect with their students in ways that would provide the purpose, meaning, appreciation of complexity, or recognition of adversity that [proponents of the humanities] hope for.
Second, too many humanists, especially those with tenure and graduate programs to tend to, have also ceased to teach fundamental skills to the undergraduates they share with colleagues in the sciences. Teaching writing was long ago hived off from the permanent fulltime tenured faculty in English departments, literature departments, journalism and communication schools, to writing programs, to composition classes taught by teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, “writing fellows"...
Similarly, the faculty in the foreign languages have rationally decided that their “research” and the preparation of the next generation of university scholars is far more important than teaching introductory Spanish, or French or German. Indeed, many hold themselves unqualified to do it....
We can’t really blame humanities faculty for their priorities. The incentive structure of the tenure system is as much to blame for the disconnect between what most students need and what tenured humanities faculty are rewarded for doing....
Defenders of the humanities draw lines in the sand, daring science to cross them. Then, when physics, biology or psychology begins to illuminate domains previously left to theology, or philosophy, or novelists like Virginia Wolfe, humanists loose more credibility among students who know some science. Why should they take advanced classes from people who sound like scolds or in some cases even charlatans?
Philosophy, at least analytical philosophy–has been something of an exception to the enrollment crisis of the humanities. Its other differences from the rest of the humanities provide evidence that their problems stem from these three self-inflicted wounds. Philosophy has never surrendered its canon: we are still teaching Plato, Hume, Kant, along with Amartya Sen, Judy Thomson and Ruth Marcus. Senior faculty still value and often teach “baby” logic, the foundation of all reasoning in the humanities as well as science. Philosophers who take an interest in science know enough of it to convince scientists that the conceptual problems they locate in biology or physics are real. But philosophy doesn’t pretend it can supersede science as a mode of knowledge. Maybe these are the reasons why many science students still take our advanced classes....
The regents’ policy, effective immediately, gives a university’s top leader the authority to suspend or fire any faculty or staff member who improperly uses social media, including Facebook, Twitter and other sites.
The policy’s list of improper uses includes communications that incite violence, disclose student information or research data, or are “contrary to the best interest of the university.”
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/12/18/4701383/regents-approve-policy-for-using.html#storylink=cpy
Notice that the prohibition on "inciting violence," if interpreted in accordance with the applicable constitutional standards, would not cover the "tweet" that started all this. A prohibition on disclosing student data is probably already covered by FERPA (the federal student privacy law), while the prohibition on disclosing "research data" and making statements "contrary to the best interest of the university" are probably both unconstitutional (the latter is at least unconstitutionally vague--unfortunately, the courts have been eroding the free speech rights of public employees in various ways over the last decade, but I would be astonished if this standard passed constitutional muster).
Not a great day for public highe reducation in Kansas. I assume a court challenge will be forthcoming.
A colleague elsewhere sent me the following dystopian reflections, suggesting I open them for discussion:
Report of the APA Committee on the Status of the Profession in 2043
In the US, there will be 15-20 Ph. D programs, each producing 5 Ph Ds per year. Most of those will be departments currently in the Leiter top 20. In the UK there will be fewer Ph. D, programs; every five years the government will assess the programmes and promote/demote some from premiere status. In the US the invisible hand will rule.
There will be 30-50 three year graduate programs producing MAPhT (MA in Philosophy Teaching) students. The programs will integrate two years of course work of the familiar kind with a year of training in teaching with practice.
Most remaining colleges will have a philosophy department of three long term faculty with Ph. D.s, one each in history of philosophy, value theory and core analytic (critical thinking and philosophy of science and technology). Philosophy majors will be scarce and will complete their degrees in three years. They will spend the last year taking capstone courses in residence after two years of online work. The department will provide courses for thousands of students online managed/taught by a staff of part-time MAPhTs. The long term faculty will teach the capstone courses, select online material for courses and oversee the hiring and teaching of the part-time faculty.
(People will have realized that the magic number “4” is an irrelevant average and degree programs will vary from 3 years in areas such as philosophy to 5 years for engineering. Engineering students will need to spend the last two years on campus because they will require experience in actual physical simulation laboratories.)
Logic will only be taught in advanced courses; Excel-Logic will provide translations of natural language premises and conclusions into logical notation and evaluate arguments (with more accuracy than students currently possess six months after taking a logic course). It will include the capacity to evaluate arguments requiring tense and modal logic, and will indicate when an argument is valid in S4.2 but not S4. When ambiguous sentences are entered, it will query the user as to which logical structure is intended. Critical thinking courses will emphasize identifying premises of arguments, a subtler skill.
History of philosophy students will not be confined to texts but will watch holographs of Socratic dialogues. Ethics students will be engulfed in holographic virtual reality trolley disaster simulations.
All publication will be self-publication online. Journals will have become extinct except for the top two which will expire as soon as they publish their backlog which grows every year. Status of publications will be determined by Zagat-Phil using a complex algorithm based on the number of ratings, the rating numbers and the pattern of downloads, citations of the paper, and status of the citer.
[Sociology Professor] Adler said that the lecture in question has been part of her course for years, without incident. "It's the highlight of the semester in my signature course," she said.
She uses prostitution, she said, to illustrate that status stratification occurs in various groups considered deviant by society. She seeks volunteers from among assistant teaching assistants (who are undergraduates) to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes -- she named as categories "slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services." They work with Adler on scripts in which they describe their lives as these types of prostitutes....
Adler said that she was told by Steven Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, that a former teaching assistant had raised a concern that some participants might be uncomfortable, but that none had in fact complained. Adler said that participation was entirely voluntary and not part of anyone's grade.
She said that Leigh told her that there was "too much risk" in having such a lecture in the "post-Penn State environment," alluding to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Adler said that she was given the choice of accepting a buyout now, or staying but not teaching the course, and not giving the prostitution lecture, and to be aware that she could be fired and lose her retirement benefits if anyone complained about her teaching in the future.
The ultimatum stunned her, Adler said. She said it was a violation of her academic freedom to be told that she couldn't teach the lecture or the course. But she said she feared the impact of losing her retirement benefits if she stayed and got fired later. "This is health insurance my family depends on," she said.
If this description is accurate, then Dean Leigh, who is a biological anthropologist by academic training, is the one who should be summarily fired from his post as Dean.
It is perhaps worth noting that Colorado is a state where Republican politicans have repeatedly pressured the University on a variety of issues; the consequences are now clear: administrators are doing the "dirty work" before it rises to the level of political controversy. What a disgrace.
UPDATE: Several readers sent me copies of an e-mail sent out by the Provost at Colorado; the relevant portion is this:
A number of you have raised concerns about academic freedom and how it may connect to this situation. Academic freedom protects faculty who teach controversial and uncomfortable/ unpopular subjects. However, academic freedom does not allow faculty members to violate the University’s sexual harassment policy by creating a hostile environment for their teaching assistants, or for their students attending the class.
In this case, University administrators heard from a number of concerned students about Professor Adler’s “prostitution” skit, the way it was presented, and the environment it created for both students in the class and for teaching assistants. Student assistants made it clear to administrators that they felt there would be negative consequences for anyone who refused to participate in the skit. None of them wished to be publicly identified.
The Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and the Chair of the Sociology Department determined that Professor Adler would not teach the class in the spring semester (2014). Pending a review by faculty in sociology and in accordance with the needs of the department, Professor Adler may be eligible to teach the course in the future.
To reiterate, Professor Adler has not been fired or forced to retire. As to comments she has made that she might be fired in the future, I should note that any employee at the University – including faculty members – found responsible for violating the University’s sexual harassment policy, is subject to discipline up to and including termination.
Unfortunately, everything said here is consistent with Professor Adler's allegations, including her allegation that she was threatened with termination if she didn't cease and desist her teaching. The only thing that might redeem the University's position is if there were a credible allegation of sexual harassment, but on the facts before us that seems unlikely. More likely is that the University became worried about how this might play in public, and so acted preemptively and in complete violation of the norms of academic freedom.
Professor Peter Barry, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Saginaw State University, writes:
Interesting development at my university, and I thought it might be interesting fodder for Leiter Reports. I'd also be interested in hearing from fellow philosophers with more insight on this issue.
It has apparently come to the attention to my Faculty Association that a student at my University is maintaining a website that houses syllabi from many of my colleagues and myself. The student who maintains the website has not, to my knowledge, asked for or received permission to post or circulate those syllabi from their respective authors and instead directly solicited them on social media. (My current syllabus for my Intro to Western Philosophy syllabus is archived and this is the first I've heard of it.) Our faculty contract includes an article that specifies that course syllabi are intellectual property that belong to the faculty member, and may only be used with the permission of the faculty member. My FA has requested that the syllabus remove course syllabi and any other items of intellectual property for which express permission from the faculty member has not been obtained, and informed the student that further action will be taken if the relevant materials are not removed in a timely manner. The website now appears to be down.
Is there an argument that what this student did falls within a fair use exemption of copyright law? Has this been an issue at other universities?
I would be astonished if "fair use" protected the student appropriation of the syllabi. Readers? Similar incidents? Insight?
“Julius Caesar!” He looked up with genuine astonishment. He was a philosopher. Why on earth would anyone ask him to read a dissertation about Julius Caesar?
“Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.”
“Oh. Right.” As though that made it clearer.
The young woman who’d cornered him in his office was a complete stranger. He’d never laid eyes on me, nor I on him. Doubtless I was wearing a leather mini skirt and high brown boots, my usual garb back then.
My take on the play was vaguely philosophical— very vaguely. I had ideas about Shakespeare and 17th century nominalism, though no philosophical context to fit them into, nor any other context, actually, self-directed as I was, the usual experience for women graduate students at Columbia those days. The Shakespearean hadn’t liked my topic, said it was “too modern and psychological,” so I approached the Miltonist with the idea, who said, uh, no, it would be awkward for him to direct a Shakespeare dissertation. I went away and came back a year later with a completed dissertation, throwing myself on the mercy of the Miltonist, who said, okay, okay, he’d try to set up a committee, there was a theater person who might read it, and a nice young assistant professor who more or less had to say yes since he didn’t have tenure, and he suggested that I talk to Arthur Danto. And that was my committee. They more or less smuggled me out the back door, unbeknownst to the Shakespearean (who found out years later, after I was comfortably ensconced on the west coast).
So that’s what I was doing in Danto’s office that spring morning, with my request. He didn’t have to agree, he was an eminence, even then; I wasn’t his student, and the dissertation was very long. But he came through.
After the dissertation defense, I stood outside in the hall, Philosophy Hall, waiting for the verdict. The committee filed out, shook my hand, congratulated me, handed me a few pages of typed notes, and went away.
Everyone except Danto. He stood there, I stood there, an uneasy moment, then he said, “By the way, do you have a job?”
“A job?” I had, as a matter of fact, just lost the adjunct position I’d been counting on to keep me in New York for the next few years. It was 1974; the job market had crashed.
“Would you like a letter?”
“Like… a recommendation? Sure, that’d be great.” It had never occurred to me to ask, I was that clueless.
He needn’t have offered—nobody else did. And he wrote not just once but many times through the years, as I applied for grants, fellowships, positions. He wrote a good letter; I never saw it but I was told it was eloquent. It opened doors.
Those were the only times we met. We corresponded when he was writing for The Nation and, for a time, so was I; we said, the next time I was in New York, we’d get together, etc., though we never did. But I remember him more fondly and vividly than I do almost any of my Columbia professors, as the one who had a sense that there was a person on the line, a person who might need a job.
I think that’s what we take from our teachers, finally, not so much information imparted as a sense of who they are.
Speaking of the importance of the humanities, this program features, among others, philosopher Debra Satz from Stanford, where 45% of the faculty are in the humanities, but only 18% of undergraduates are humanities majors.
A more detailed story about the former adjunct French professor at Dusquesne, whose death generated substantial national attention. As one might have suspected, the story had more complexities than the original report suggested, though the complexities make it more, not less, tragic. One thing not in dispute: Dusquesne has resisted efforts by its adjunct faculty to unionize. Shame on the university!
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)