Letter to the Editor: A Professor’s Response to “Economic Injustice at Holy Cross”

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to an article titled “Economic Injustice at Holy Cross” that appeared in our September 27 issue.

September 27, 2019

To the Editors of The Spire:

Guest writer Clara Joy Gibson’s September 27 column “Economic Injustice at Holy Cross” itself does a gross injustice to the College and to the cause of trustworthy journalism. While providing no information whatsoever on how Holy Cross adjunct faculty are compensated, Gibson denounces the College for mistreating them on the basis of salary figures from other colleges. While she lists several names parenthetically as sources for her reports on other colleges’ policies, the publications she is citing are never identified. And the claim made by one of her sources, one Carole Emberson of the University of Buffalo, to the effect that  “male tenured faculty often increase the speed at which they receive tenure [in comparison with female counterparts] by avoiding departmental service, administrative work, emotional labor [whatever that might mean] and other inglorious jobs” is simply outlandish: like all accredited academic institutions, Holy Cross has fixed rules as to the number of years required to be eligible for tenure, and in my long professional career I have neither witnessed, nor heard of, any such gender-based practices, here or elsewhere.

The numerous full-time adjunct faculty I have known at Holy Cross, while eager to obtain a tenure-track position somewhere, are to the best of my knowledge reasonably compensated, and have often used their service here as a springboard to obtaining tenure-track positions at other colleges. (Within the past two years alone, highly qualified adjuncts in my department obtained such positions at Connecticut College and the University of North Texas, while another secured a tenure-track job at Holy Cross itself). As for part-timers, here and elsewhere, they are typically operating in special circumstances – e.g., advanced Ph.D. students seeking to enhance their résumés by adding to their teaching records while finishing their dissertations, or spouses with familial commitments who aren’t currently seeking full-time jobs. (I note that Ms. Gibson provides no evidence of having interviewed regular faculty, adjunct faculty, or College administrators to get their side of the story.)

Spire editors should insist that student authors fact-check their contributions more thoroughly before they are published.


David Lewis Schaefer
Professor of Political Science

Categories: Opinions

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