Teaching and Learning History

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  • 1.  Historians at the Community College

    Posted 01-15-2017 01:47:00 PM

    I am gathering anecdotal information about how faculty at two-year institution are supported in their involvement in non-teaching activities.  Do community college administrations show any encouragement for faculty research in history, professional association membership, or other disciplinary activities?  Do such matters play any role in hiring, tenure, or post-tenure review? 

    To what extent does your institution expect genuine disciplinary mastery?  Is it only about teaching and service to the institution, or does your scholarship or other involvement outside these areas matter?  Does administration see you as a historian? 


    Mark Smith, Ph.D. Valencia College Orlando FL msmith01@mail.valenciacollege.edu

  • 2.  RE: Historians at the Community College

    Posted 01-16-2017 04:03:00 PM

    Short answer: NO.

    Long answer: Don't get me started.  But as long as you got me started, if you publish this info, please keep my name and institutional details out of it. Seriously.

    When I started at the 2-year where I am currently employed, they were up front about this: "We pay you to teach."  And that does involve service to the institution.  There is no tenure here. In fact, we do not even have "due process" contracts.  I live and work in a "right to work" state, so all faculty at my institution have 30-day at-will contracts.  I'm fine with all of that, I knew it before I took the job.  But during my time here, I did manage to turn my dissertation into a book, and there is where things got interesting.  The academic side of my institution is actually quite pleased with my having published, but they don't make the decisions. The regents of this institution tend to hire the presidents, vice presidents and all other major decision makers from the business side of the house.

    As I was in my final stages of completing my book, published by a respected university publishing house, I needed funding to pay for my indexing (common practice in academic publishing for those of you who have never published). I ended up paying for it out of my own pocket in the end. I approached my dean and provost for institutional help and while they liked the idea, they needed approval from the VP over finances. His reply was no because my publishing is a "profit seeking venture," and the college could not get involved in that.  This is an academic book. In the 5+ years since its been released, I've made about $100.  Some profit.

    Even then, I could understand their reluctance. This isn't a research institution and they have no idea how it works.  But here's the kicker.  We actually have a college policy that allows faculty members to apply for pay increases, and even a pay grade beyond the top of our salary schedule, if that faculty member produces academically above and beyond that the college expects, such as writing a book!  Cool, right?  But the policy does state "subject to the approval of the college president." It is not a guarantee.  When I applied, this is the reply I received. "We already pay you for your dissertation, and your book is an extension of that dissertation. NO."  Never mind that since publishing I have brought some prestige to the college by appearing on C-SPAN's Book TV, I have been a peer reviewer for my publisher (getting my name on other peoples' books) and I have, as a result of my own book, published reviews of other books in the AHR. My book is merely an extension of my dissertation.  Wow.

    I hope other 2-year professors don't face such nonsense, but there you have it in my case.