volume 39, number 4
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Letters to the Editor

Michael Neff, Lecturer, Intellectual Heritage

March 5, 2009.


Letter to the Editor, The Faculty Herald:


I am an NTT in the Intellectual Heritage Program.  I have been thinking about Professor Steinberg’s remarks about NTT compensation in a recent letter to the Faculty Herald.  I speak only for myself, and here are my thoughts.

I think it’s futile to argue the merits of what’s more important to the University: research or teaching.  Both are.  Professor Steinberg’s work and that of other research and tenured faculty are ornaments in the University’s reputation.  I’d like to come at the compensation issue from a different angle.

I would like to ask administration and tenured faculty, “Are NTTs useful to the University?  Are they needed?”  I don’t assume the answer... but let’s say for the moment that the answer is, “Yes”.  If so, I would like to ask, “What is the minimum NTTs can be expected to survive on?”  It’s a cold question, but it seems fair, and it leaves aside ideological arguments about the nature of the University.

Thinking about this made me realize what I’d been unconsciously assuming for a long time: That I would rather work for the minimum and teach in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple than do most any other job.  But the minimum has a limit.  I am finding that it is not endlessly flexible before one can get into trouble.

So I don’t think it’s unfair to ask those receiving greater pay, and let’s say deservedly so, to consider whether their colleagues are flirting with the minimum and struggling to stay above it?

I sometimes wonder if the University might explore non-salary ideas to keep people like me employed.  For instance, I would welcome the opportunity to purchase low-cost housing quite similar to the public housing that borders the University.  It would be a boon to me, it would build the University community, and I would be able to continue there after retirement.

I do not begrudge those who make more than me.  I think we’re talking “minimums” here for people who would welcome the opportunity to remain devoted to the University.


Michael Neff,

Lecturer, Intellectual Heritage