Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Why adjuncts and untenured people are less likely to blog 

Critical Mass tells the story of a blog known as The Phantom Professor, who turns out to be an adjunct faculty member who's not been offered renewal. In an article in Inside Higher Ed, she's identified herself and discussed the details. She worked at a private university with a religious affiliation, and I would think posts like this probably are part of what drew the ire of the administration. I don't think you can excuse the university for its treatment of her, but if you work as an at-will employee -- which is what an adjunct professor is -- and you make it too easy to see that you are criticizing your employer, you are likely to be 86'd. Erin O'Connor criticizes SMU for trying to have it both ways:
Though administrators deny that the decision to renew Liner had anything to do with the blog, even going so far as to deny having ascertained that Liner was really the author of the blog, they also admit that they were deeply disturbed by the blog, that they had received complaints about it, and that they had gone so far as to consult lawyers about it. As an adjunct, Liner has no job security, and effectively does not enjoy even the semblance of academic freedom; SMU is free to choose not to continue to employ her, and it is free, too, not to offer her any explanation. As it happens, SMU administrators are offering an explanation that is patently unbelievable--they say they discontinued Liner because they want to begin replacing adjunct professors with full-time tenure-track professors, but they have no plans to assign Liner's course to someone on the tenure-track.
It appears Phantom Prof is now going to write more fully about her experiences at SMU.

There have been questions about authorship of this blog from time to time. I remind readers that I a) am tenured; b) a department chair; and c) quite willing to let you see my professional webspace. (Obviously I spend much less time on design of that area.) I have none of the risks the Phantom Prof did.

UPDATED: Noted at The Cranky Professor as well:
I realized once I was about 3 months into blogging that I wasn't nearly anonymous enough to say anything about my colleagues, much though you might be amused by our antics.
Oh, do tell!