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.

Sincerely,

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