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possible trend in higher education

updated fri 26 aug 05


Linda Arbuckle on thu 25 aug 05

Linda Ferzoco said:

Frankly, from the college's perspective, it makes sense. My prof

only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12/13-hour days to be sure, but that

make 40 in a week. I don't know whether there would be enough students

fill more classes.

Anyway, I suspect that we'll see more of this, especially in the arts,

are always hard hit when the money gets tight.

I think the part about the money is right. And there are no benefits
paid to part-timers -another savings. This is sad in terms of quality of
a program. One of the differences between a lackadaisical program and a
good one is that the professor doesn't just work the hours the class
meets. There are many things to do outside of the class meeting time,
including committee work to improve the art department (including
sitting on search committees to see that good faculty are hired,
promotion and tenure committees, curriculum committees etc. etc.) ,
recruiting of good students (students learn so much from each other - a
good program needs strong students to prosper), support of current
students (posting opportunities, talking w/students about how to apply
for things, letters of recommendation, connecting students with
personally-directed information helpful to their work, being faculty
advisor for the clay club, keeping in touch w/alumni and connecting
current students and alums), and on and on. This includes, at times,
marshalling support for administration decisions the faculty feels are
not in the best interest of the program. Much of this work is not the
fun part of teaching, but is necessary to have a good program. A
part-timer is being paid very little in most cases, and is not expected
to do program support and development. In fact, they usually have to
have several part-time jobs to exist, so they have no time to do more.
So the program is not supported and developed, and is not what it could
be. Good programs thrive on the backs of the people who are there. It
takes a lot of initiative and work to grow a program. And, Ceramics
faculty are hired, usually, for the same money that is paid to, say,
drawing, where the teacher just has to turn on the lights and count the
stools. Clay people have raw materials, glazes, and firing to deal with,
which all takes more time.

I remember when I first started teaching, my dad asking when my classes
met. When I told him, he laughed and thought I'd managed to scam the
university. He seemed to think I was sitting at home having a beer the
rest of the time outside class meetings. As if. I have friends who are
studio potters. They work hard, too. I think most careers in clay give
the possibility of a certain level of autonomy, require hard work, and
while they may not make you rich, will give you satisfactions. And, it's
a great community of bright, helpful people. I hope that people tell
universities that they need more than some underpaid adjunct who only
works on the clock to provide a real program for teaching art in clay. I
have great respect for the people working as adjunct faculty. Most give
their students and institutions more than they're being paid for. But
the situation doesn't make it practical for them to do more than the

If you're an education consumer - a student or parent of one - one of
the persuasive things you can do is try to determine who your
institution's peer schools are, and research their faculty and support.
Administrators look at these things. Try to find a peer school that does
have better support, and present this data to the people in charge. Ask
them if they would like to have an art department as successful as
School X, and point out that School X has full-time faculty, shop
support etc. At times such campaigns have nudged administration into
reconsidering. I'd also point out the amount of equipment and materials
clay takes, and that it will take someone there more than part-time to
manage all that effectively. NCECA has been a great network of
colleagues for this kind of support. And it's taken grassroots support
to make progress. Administrators have a bottom line, and it's always
about money. You have to tell them how it serves their goals to give you
more (or avoid a cut). Like working in clay, working in education
effectively requires initiative and ingenuity to make things go. This
was about higher ed, but I know K-12 people have similar battles. We
keep up the good fight.


Linda Arbuckle, Professor

University of Florida

School of Art and Art History

P.O. Box 115801

Gainesville, FL 32611

(352) 392-0201 x 219