Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Professors - are they really working?

I think the clear simplest thing to say about SIU professors is a majority do the least amount of work possible and still retain some feeling they are not worthless. I'm certainly not saying all of them, but many, many of them are working at a level of effort that would embarrass their Mothers. Certainly, a whole bunch of this is because of SIU's poor management, but as adults the professors need to take some of the blame.

As a taxpayer, we would like to see 40 hours a week out of each SIU employee. So, if you go to work at 8:00 AM and work to 5:00 PM with an hour for lunch, Monday through Friday, that is what we would like to see. I'm all for flex time too, work any 40 hours you like, but do work them. I know I'm about to hear from a bunch of professors that we are working more than 40 hours a week, "way more buddy!" In the real world, we don't count the time you are having a walk as work, nor digging your garden, cooking dinner, doing boy scouts, or sleeping. We are thinking about work all the time too and we don't get paid for sleeping either.

A reasonable argument might be that you only work 20 hours a week, but get results as good as someone "who is less special" working 40 hours. My argument back is we are paying you a salary and the way for the taxpayers to get ahead is if the best performers work the full days and perform much better than average. Does anyone want to argue that a professor who applies his rear to the chair and his fingers to the keyboard for 2000 hours per year is going to be more productive than one who does the same for only 500 hours?

It looks like professors have the best jobs of anyone in American (except for Software Engineers, who everyone knows are the coolest. Here is a link to Money's list of best jobs.) and this is very clear from the outside.

This little trick about "working at home," (wink, wink) even though you have a private office with a door? Do you think that anyone is buying that crap?

If you were wondering what the taxpayers who might give universities more money see, now you know.

I hope this doesn't hurt to many egos, but the SIU professors are really smart and you aren't fooling anyone.


Gerald McBoing Boing said...

To paraphrase Ghostbusters, "I've been in the private sector, they expect results." I often tell my students I was as anxious to get out of college as you are, then I realized college is a heck of a lot easier than the real world, at least for the faculty and students.

Jonathan Bean said...

As one of the accused class (!), I'll put my name to this post and not hide behind my office door.

I agree with your 99%, except for

"This little trick about "working at home," (wink, wink) even though you have a private office with a door? Do you think that anyone is buying that crap?"

I am an open door professor who has students "access" me outside office hours. I am also known for getting info. they need ASAP via email (often you have to send the material). When I am really crunched, I can close the door but because students find me so approachable, if the word is "I am in there" they knock and knock...

I've been told that I shouldn't be so helpful to students and spend so much time on campus (probably 35 hours/week, not counting workouts). I easily put another 2 hours a day (50 hours total) at home or at a WiFi hotspot. In fact, I wrote both my books in McDonalds and almost dedicated one of the books to Ray Kroc! I thought better of it since I had just married and my betrothed had been so understanding about my time away writing.

I'm still an open door professor and I get most of my serious writing done in the summer (months we are not paid, but administration is paid). I've never figured out the 9 month contract deal. We all space our pay out over 12 months, yet we often work more (and harder) during the unpaid months. What's with that? I'm not complaining about summer "vacation," but I wonder how that figures into things.

So, taxpaying citizen, do I become a less dedicated teacher, no longer having to work at night and weekends, and should I tell the buggers to go away because I have to double my book production so SIU can make the top 75?!

Keeping the customer (student) satisfied is job #1 and getting them to graduation and a job is part of that. However, it doesn't count for much in the top 75 scale of things. (Not that I'm not writing, third book is coming out in my 12th year here, and I'm a talking head for a new A&E series on great businessmen -- though I don't get paid. :-( ).

But, you are right, there is deadwood. Adam Smith noted -- 250 years ago -- that he didn't learn a single thing from anyone with tenure!

Peter in Carbondale said...

What can I say Bean, you are part of the minority. I think if you are on campus for 35 hours a week, you have become part of very small set of professors. If you work more than 35 hours a week, you are really different. :)

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

We are really out of compliance with the State of Illinois Ethics Code in the area of time accounting....

Time Sheets
Each agency shall require all employees to periodically submit time sheets. The time sheets must document to the nearest quarter hour the time the employee spent each day on official State business.

Time sheets may be maintained on paper or in electronic format. The time sheets must be maintained by the Agency's fiscal office for a period of at least two years.

If your agency does not already maintain time sheets for employees, this policy must be in effect by February 1, 2004.

Can you imagine the scream faculty would let out if they had to be accountable for their time in 15 min. increments!!!

Anonymous said...

I have worked industry and it is my observation that university faculty work longer hours than comparatively trained people in the private sector. You have not offered any data to support your views, so I will weight them accordingly. Perhaps you think that hurling insults is a form of evidence. It is not. But, doing research does require work.

Are Faculty Members Overworked?
11/5/2004 Chronicle of Higher Education

Faculty members are frequently ridiculed for having some of the cushiest jobs around. But exactly how many hours do professors put in?
Jerry A. Jacobs, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that the average full-time faculty member works more than 50 hours a week, regardless of academic rank. About 35 percent of faculty members reported working more than 60 hours a week. Mr. Jacobs analyzed data from a U.S. Department of Education survey of more than 10,000 faculty members at four-year institutions in 1998-99, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Jon (Not Working Now) Bean said...

About the minority thing, they say I oppose policies that privilege minorities but you say I am one. Does not compute, does not compute...

It was the Catholic nuns beating a work ethic into me (and my compadres). Man, those ladies could shake up an institution.

Don't you see me sweating on my reading while I elliptical? I'm going to add those hours to my work day (except weightlifting time, I can't multitask then . . . .).

60+? Average per department? No way.
50 -- no way except the assistants and those with no social life.
40+ -- secretaries work overtime though no one in an office "works" 60 minutes/hour.

Professors? Who knows? I don't hang out with them, so I have no clue.