volume 39, number 3
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Letters to the Editor

February 19, 2009


To the Editor:

It is remarkable that a text as brief as Prof. Steinberg’s letter of February 9 could commit so many outrages against facts and values.  Those of us who have signed this letter—who represent faculty members of every rank and many disciplines—reject Prof. Steinberg’s argument as logically flawed and ethically toxic.  We want instead to make an argument for solidarity across our bargaining unit to promote both basic fairness and the interests of those faculty who earn more and have better job security.

Prof. Steinberg ‘s  central claim is uninformed--that our union’s offer for a $2100 raise in ’08-’09 is a self-serving gambit by a cabal of non-tenure track faculty  and tenure-track faculty who have “largely moribund” research agendas.  Two-thirds of the eighteen people serving as officers or members of the executive committee are tenured professors; their cvs, readily available, reveal accomplished research records.  And we are proud that our NTT colleagues are a vital part of our union.  They have been assigned to teach a remarkably-high proportion of Temple’s students, and they do it remarkably well.  Not only that, their high teaching loads make possible the lighter teaching loads and higher salaries enjoyed by the those on the tenure track, including Prof. Steinberg.

We also contest his assertion that  “the average full professor” and that  “most Associate Professors and Assistant Professors with above-average salaries” would have done better had TAUP signed the offer the administration put on the table in November rather than the $2100 TAUP has currently proposed in response to the administration’s now much-less-reasonable offer.  The problem here lies in two of Prof. Steinberg’s presuppositions.  The first :  All that really counts in a contract is the size of the raise.  While raises are important, there are key issues such as how merit is to be determined, still troublingly vague in the administration’s proposal.  What about pensions?  Sabbaticals? 

The second faulty assumption:  Prof. Steinberg  does not seem to understand that a $2100 addition would be significant for many Assistant, Associate  and even Full professors with active research agendas.  The serious deformations in salary produced by differences in discipline, time-of-hire, and other variables have been recognized by the administration in its own proposal for increased compensation.  So there are a great many faculty members of all ranks whose salaries do not match their accomplishments.  They would gain considerably from a $2100 increase.     

Let’s remember, too, that this lump sum would hold true for one year only.  After that, raises would have shifted back to the percentages that Prof. Steinberg feels are the only fair mode of compensation.  Indeed, TAUP’s most recent proposals for merit are more generous than the administration’s most recent offer and would significantly reward extraordinary accomplishments. 

Let’s now consider a few more reasons why the $2100 offer is just and prudent. 

  1. Given the hard times ahead, it seems to us a matter of basic decency to help those who earn least, especially since those not on the tenure track have less certainty that they will have a job at all next year.  This is the care that any community worth the name should show toward its most vulnerable members. 
  1. This $2100 offer should not be interpreted as mere charity or noblesse oblige.  The lighter teaching loads and higher salaries many of us enjoy depend upon the labor of those not on the tenure track.  As faculty of all ranks, we believe that teaching is central to the mission of the university.  Another fact to remember:   Many professors not on the tenure track manage to do an impressive amount of research, especially given their teaching loads, although they receive no merit pay for doing so.
  1. Finally, the $2100 proposal is justified by self-interest among the tenure-track faculty.   By forcing Temple’s managers  to give colleagues not on the tenure track closer to what they deserve (including pension benefits), we may help to renew a now-“moribund”  impulse among many central managers  to lean toward tenure-track hiring.  If those of us on the tenure track do not do whatever we can to remedy the dangerous trends in academic employment, we will have climbed the academic ladder only to help yank it away from others, including our own graduate students, leaving them stuck below while we remain stuck above, however comfortable our perches  and perquisites may be.


For these reasons among others, we reject Prof. Steinberg’s claim, and we say “no thanks” to his advice to drop out of our union.  More important than what we reject, though, is what we affirm:  We affirm our commitment to gaining an equitable contract.  We affirm our need to ensure that the entire Temple community knows the real facts of these difficult negotiations.  We affirm our solidarity with faculty and academic professionals across all ranks, knowing that this is the only way to forge a better future for ourselves, for our students, and for Temple as a whole.


Rebecca Alpert

Associate Professor, Religion


Orin Chein

Professor, Mathematics


Israel Colon,

Associate Professor, Social Work


Samuel R. Delany

Professor, Department of English


LeAnn Ercikson

Associate Professor, Film and Media Arts


Catherine Fiorello

Associate Professor, School Psychology


Abbe Forman

Instructor, CIS


Mary Anne Gaffney

Associate Professor, Accounting


Len Garrett

Professor Emeritus, CIS


Paul Garrett

Associate Professor, Anthropology

Suzanne Gauch

Associate Professor, English


Melissa Gilbert

Associate Professor, Georgraphy and Urban Studies


Eli Goldblatt

Professor, English


Judith Goode

Professor, Anthropology


Jane Gordon

Assistant Professor, Political Science


Sherri Grasmuck

Professor, Sociology


Keith Gumery

Associate Professor (Teaching and Instruction), English


Laurita Hack

Professor, Physical Therapy


Michael Hesson

Assistant Professor (Teaching and Instruction), Anthropology


Phillip Hineline

Professor, Psychology


Anastasia Huggins

Assistant Professor (Teaching/Instructional), Anthropology


Elliott Koffman

Professor, CIS


Ben Kohl

Associate Professor, Geography and Urban Studies


Neil Kosh

Professor, Art and Art Education


Jan Krzywicki

Professor, Music

Jay Lockenour

Associate Professor, History

Josh Lukin

Assistant Professor (Teaching and Instruction), English

Stan McDonald

Assistant Professor (Teaching and Instruction), English


Joanna J. Moore

Associate Professor, Art and Art Education


Steve Newman

Associate Professor, English


Miles Orvell

Professor, English and Ameican Studies


Wendy Osterweil

Assistant Professor, Art and Art Education


Karen Palter

Associate Professor, Biology

Montserrat Piera

Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese


David Ryan

Associate Professor, Accounting


Rickie Sanders

Professor, Geography and Urban Studies and Women’s Studies


Jack Schiller

Associate Professor, Mathematics


Anne Shlay

Professor, Sociology


Marilyn Silberfien

Professor, Geography and Urban Studies


Muffy Siegel

Associate Professor, English

Bryant Simon

Professor, History and American Studies


Michael W. Smith

Professor, CITE


Miriam Solomon

Professor, Philosophy


Howard Spodek

Professor, History


Alu Srinivasan

Professor, Mathematics


R. Michael Stewart

Associate Professor, Anthropology


Daniel  Tompkins

Associate Professor, Philosophy


Kathy LeMons Walker

Associate Professor, History


Howard Weiss

Professor, Management Science/Operations Management


Jessica Winegar

Assistant Professor, Anthropology


Phil Yannella

Professor, English and American Studies