Thursday, May 28, 2009

Legislators agree to cut our pay

Just in case you haven't been paying attention, the legislators have officially rescinded our promised pay increase and voted to increase our health insurance premiums.

Although the media seems to be reporting it as a pay freeze, it is really a cut.  

As our last paycheck for the academic year is on the horizon, enjoy it!  You won't see as much when we finally get paid again on October 1.

Friday, May 22, 2009

$7 million more in cuts for UW system

The Joint Finance Committee decided today to take $7 million more back from UW auxiliary funds.  They already had taken $16 million, so the new total is $23 million.

Unfortunately, I don't have the budget figures that were circulated last month in front of me, but this will surely mean another significant cut here on campus.   Our share of the $7 million will go up because UW-Lacrosse's share was reduced.

It is a nice way to start our summer, knowing that the state is stripping even more from higher education here.   What more will we lose before the semester starts again in the fall?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

e-cheating ahead?

The NY Times loves these stories, and so do I.  They report on the websites that are now specializing in class notes and tests.

I haven't checked to see if I am up there, but it is an interesting new electronic twist on the fraternity test bank.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sad Saga of a Georgia Professor

As the semester winds to an end, I am taking a break from grading to mention one of the interesting sagas of the last few weeks.  

Only if you live in a hole could you have failed to notice the media reports of the man in Georgia who apparently shot his wife, a couple of her acquaintances, and then himself.

The story itself is sad, but I have been fascinated by the fact that we heard endless about the story because the shooter was a professor.   It shows us something about professors strange place in modern culture.

The fact that the suspect was a professor drove this to the newspapers -- after all how often do you see the headline "Police manhunt for plumber underway . . ."  

The fixation obviously has to do with the seeming incongruity between "professor" and human being.  In the same way that students seem surprised to run into us in the grocery store or mall, the fact that a professor might be driven to fits of murderous rage caught the media's fancy.

At the same time, how often are we ridiculed by legislators and others because we aren't in front of students 40 hours a week?  How many times can they cut our pay in Madison and then insist we have no grounds to complain?  How often are we lampooned by radical right activists as communists in cardigan sweaters?

My father always insists that professors also carry special respect in society because of our position as experts and scholars.  

The case of the murderous Georgia professor crosses all of these stereotypes and cultural images.  Here is the erudite, liberal, respectable, wimpy professor shockingly acting out in rage and violence.

Professors lie at a strange intersection of respect, fascination, and derision.   If only there weren't so much grading to go with it. . . .

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Furloughs on the way!

Gov. Doyle just announced big new cuts to the state budget, including over 3 work weeks (16 days) of furloughs over the next 2 years.  

It is sort of a joke to call it a furlough, since it really is a temporary 3% pay cut.  I wonder if it won't be even bigger for us since technically we are paid on a 9 month schedule.  That means it could be almost 5% [updated from higher figures, because I did my math wrong].

He also is cancelling our small pay raise and raising health insurance premiums.   

There will most likely be bigger cuts in the overall budget too.

State revenue has dropped at a precipitous rate, they tell us, for 2009.

It is going to be an ugly couple of years around here.  

Monday, May 04, 2009

Faculty Advocacy Committee Tries to Create Buzz

I was looking at the Northwestern this morning to see if any schools had closed because of swine flu, and noticed that the Faculty Advocacy Committee has created a blog on that website.

So far, it contains interviews with Merlain Angwall and B. S. Sridhar.   They are, of course, very nice profiles of two interesting members of our community.

I don't know whether these blogs gather much attention, but it looks like a nice beginning foray into the world of electronic promotion for this group.