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Higher Ed in the News

Goodbye to overpaid professors in cushy jobs

July 28, 2010

A decade or two ago, it wasn't hard to find state legislators, pushing for university budget cuts, who complained about the leisurely lives of academics. Try a Google search for such criticism today, and not much turns up.

As long as the national economy remains in the doldrums, even those with the most-secure academic jobs may have to work harder. For those people lucky enough to land full-time jobs at universities, the pay can be good, although, of course, it's all relative.

Each year, more and more of those standing at the front of a university classroom are not on the tenure track. For adjunct instructors, who now make up more than half of the professoriate, life is a scramble to piece together as much income as possible. Many adjunct instructors at colleges and universities make far less than high-school teachers, and must supplement their income with other work.

Cary Nelson, a tenured professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and president of the American Association of University Professors, believes it is no longer ethical to recommend Ph.D. programs to promising undergraduates. "It's a ticket to exploitation and semi-starvation," he says.

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Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.