Faculty! Beware of Idealism and Altruism!
They could ruin your life!
Manipulative bureaucrats often dupe faculty because they understand how dedicated faculty are to students and to their disciplines. The lyrics of “The Impossible Dream” from The Man from La Mancha, keep bouncing in my head these days. Of course Elvis sang my favorite rendition.
To dream the impossible dream. To fight the unbeatable foe. To bear with unbearable sorrow… To run where the brave dare not go. To try when your arms are too weary . To reach the unreachable star. This is my quest . To follow that star . No matter how hopeless . No matter how far. To fight for the right Without question or pause . To be willing to march into Hell for a heavenly cause… And the world will be better for this . That one man, scorned and covered with scars . Still strove with his last ounce of courage . To reach the unreachable star (Copy from Reel Classics)
In general, faculty do not pursue teaching in order to become wealthy. Some do crave the power to dominate and students are often an easy group to target. Many faculty are idealistic. They create classes/curricula, serve on committees, write books, give papers, counsel students, and dedicate their lives to the betterment of the students, their department, and the academic institution where they are employed.
They feel that their cause is just. Their rewards are the changes they see in their students and the improvement of their discipline on campus. But they are often blind to the conniving’s of bureaucrats who have lost those ideals or never had them. They are willing to do almost anything to further the cause of their discipline on campus and support students, so they ignore the fact that bureaucrats are using them for their own benefit. They are so dedicated that they cannot comprehend the inequities on campus. They may even believe that bureaucrats deserve larger salaries, better work facilities, travel support, office support, and the list could go on.
So what do faculty do? They clean and paint their own offices. There are no funds for furniture, so they buy their own furniture. “Oh, the bureaucrats say. “Yes, we will provide you with a computer, but we don’t have enough money for a printer.” So they buy their own printers, paper, office supplies.
There is such a great need for materials to help teach the students, but the bureaucrats do not allocate any cash for videos, CD’s, maps, dry erase markers, and in the old days, stencils or punch cards. “Hello faculty, buy your own.” “And, please, don’t even ask for office support. Pay for your own.” One of my students was in a bureaucrat’s office and was using the copy machine (which we did not have) and the bureaucrat told her she could not use the paper. Huh?
Often there are virtually no up-to-date books in the library, so faculty buy new books and put them on reserve for students. Faculty purchase (out of their very low salaries) whatever they need to bring excellence into the face-to-face classroom or online. (Of course, there are faculty who don’t do any of the above and we will address this issue in a later blog.)
If faculty are asked to serve on a meaningless committee (which is deemed so important), they agree to do it. They feel empowered. If they are asked to create a new class, they do it. If they are asked to create an advisory committee, they do it. If they are asked to write documents for an accreditation review, they do it. If they are asked to go to Timbuktu for the university, they do it. They often feel honored that they were chosen to perform additional work at their own cost.
Faculty are at the beck and call of bureaucrats (Did I say herd here?) who hold close the power to raise their salaries, recommend tenure and promotion, or provide paltry sums of money to attend conferences. Rarely do bureaucrats totally support faculty if they have been chosen to present at national or international conferences. For years I spent more than a thousand dollars out of my pocket to attend one national conference a year. Three to six hundred dollars does not go very far. Often, I could not attend conferences because it was cost-prohibitive, but my superior was out of the office attending something at least once a month. Huh? I don’t believe that person ever presented an academic paper at a national or international conference.
I hope I am making my point here. During the tenure at my last appointment, I went beyond the scope of the duties of a professor. I was so dedicated to the task at hand that I did not realize that they were using me and my talents for their own careers, their own budgets, their own benefit, and listing my accomplishments on their resumes.
That unreachable star blinded me.
Faculty can be so dedicated to the task that they do not recognize that their love, dedication, and altruistic views of educating students, has driven them straight into hell.