LINGUIST List 12.903

Sat Mar 31 2001

Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Mark Chamberlin, RE: 12.898, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities
  2. Alain Th�riault, Re: 12.898, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities
  3. Meridoran6, Underpaid "lecturers"

Message 1: RE: 12.898, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 01:51:41 -0500 (EST)
From: Mark Chamberlin <>
Subject: RE: 12.898, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Re:12.890, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Here in Estonia, the titles would be 'Herra Profetsor Doktor' or
'Lektor.' There is, however, another question--one of reality. 
Those among our students who might end up in our shoes need to
know what they're in for should they fall through the cracks and
end up in akadeemia.

Therefore, the 6th word in the following quote, 'than,' might best
be replaced with 'of the.'

"We owe our students more than petty squabbles over titular
preferences and antiquated distinctions that only serve to divide
our faculties and undermine our pedagogical effectiveness." --
Sean M. Witty <>

Mark L. Chamberlin
Tartu University
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Message 2: Re: 12.898, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2001 11:56:12 -0400
From: Alain Th�riault <theriaalMAGELLAN.UMontreal.CA>
Subject: Re: 12.898, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

I would like to respond to Sean M. Witty's comments.

I think the distinction made by Anthea was needed. It helped to 
clarify the subject of this discussion. The discussion was first 
intended as a protest to the trend in North American universities 
(and elsewhere such as Denmark or the Netherlands) of hirering part 
time lecturers without any (or with very little) insentive to do 
research. The following comments are made with this precision in mind.
 As James Fidelholtz noted, there is a continuum between teaching and 
reasearch that should be there but that the present tendency of 
super-specialisation is eroding. Therefore, I think that James 
comments were somewhat surprising.

James wrote :
> If you're a professor, thank the
>lecturers for teaching all those classes that you would have to teach
>otherwise. If you're a lecturer, thank the professors for doing all that
>research you would have to conduct otherwise.

The idea of getting a Ph.D. , especially after all the years it takes
to achieve this, is not to have others do the research which you
might want to conduct. You don't go through all this treaning as a
researcher in order to have someone else to do it. I agree with
James that a Ph.D. is somewhat unnecessary to teach someone to say
"pass me the salt". If you are a Doctor in Philosophy, it is because
you have an interest in thinking and analysing data. But I have to
strongly dissagree with him when he says that lecturers should be
thankfull that others take the burden of this so ungreatfull thing
that reasearch is. Why should lecturers be gratefull that, with the
same training as a professor, he/she gets to do half the job he/she
was trained for, for a fraction of the pay. Does this mean that
universities consider that the teaching part of a professor's work
load is not worth as much as the research part? And yet, the
announcement that triggered this discussion (it was from a Norh
American university) asked for someone with tenure-track
qualifications for teaching 5 classes, both at undergraduate and
levels, on a temporary basis (8 months). This is very attractive
since summer period is not remunerated... Why should a lecturer be
gratefull that someone else is doing his/her job? Professors should
indeed (and the ones I know are!) be gratefull that lecturers are
there, allowing them to do their research! Universities should also
be gratefull that these lecturers allow them to give student a better
and more diversed training! This "tittle war" james talks about has
the consequence that students think (I was one of them when I started
my undergraduate studies) that classes given by lecturers were second
grade from the ones given by tenures. And by treating lecturers as
simple service providers that could be replaced at will, taking
advantage of the offer to lower the price of these services, does not
improve this impression.
With a 5 class workload, especially for classses often given for the
first time, which means 3 to 4 hours of preparation for each hour in
class, I don't where this research experience will be usefull. With
such a workload, these summer months are necessary to to conduct
one's research. So the lecturer has to do his/her research while
washing dishes in a restaurant (or any other odd job) in order to
make ends meet. I think it is quite clear, under this situation, that
the university offering this post had no intention of supporting the
research the candidate might want to conduct (but wold probably
gladly see it's name under the lecturer's name in any communication
or paper!).

Plus, if I compare the teaching load of a professor at the
linguistics department of Universite de Montreal, the teaching load
is heavier for the lecturer that will fill this position (though I
have to admit that I don't know what the teaching load is for
professors at this specific university). A professor has a 4 class
teaching workload (both at undergraduate and graduate levels) over 3
semesters although most of them give their classes over the Fall and
Winter terms. In the announced position, the lecturer has a teaching
load of 5 classes over 2 semesters for, again, a fraction of the
price (especially that the cost of living in the town where this
university is has a reputation of being somewhat high!). The blessed
chosen candidate usually has to relocate him/herself at his/her cost
(relocation is usually partly, if not totally covered for new
tenures!), and that for a temporary time since these positions are
not necessarely renewed!

I would like to see the point of view tenures and department
administrators on this. I realise that my point of view is somewhat
"biaise" and interested.

Alain Th�riault
Ph.D. Student (Linguistics)
Universit� de Montr�al
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Message 3: Underpaid "lecturers"

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 16:15:53 EST
From: Meridoran6 <>
Subject: Underpaid "lecturers"

Just wanted to chip in my two cents regarding the situation for "lecturers" 
(or adjunct faculty, or 'part-time' teachers) which in my definition means 
highly-educated, experienced teacher/researchers who are hired into jobs on a 
per-class basis, with no long-term contracts, no benefits, and often no 
'official' office or phone or computer. These jobs are more and more common 
at the university level in the U.S. (and in Canada, too, it appears), and 
indeed, are often replacing tenure-track positions. The justification is not 
so much 'cost-efficiency' as pure bottom-lining on the part of universities 
(why pay more for teachers when you can pay less?), and I think that any of 
us who hold, or hope in the future to hold, tenured faculty positions, should 
be concerned about the growing percentage of courses being taught by these 
well-educated, and scandalously poorly-paid, 'adjunct' teachers. If the 
trend continues, we may all be without long-term contracts and benefits one 

Best wishes to all,
M. Doran 
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