Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Please Don’t Throw Me Into That Briar Patch

When critics of higher ed get their two-minutes-hate going, one of the things they like to claim is that professors get paid exorbitant salaries for doing almost no work. If you work in academia, you might even have a colleague who fits that description. They’re not as commonplace as critics would have the public believe, but they do exist–they exist in pretty much every workplace, though, so the fact that they get held up as poster children in higher ed usually means there’s an ulterior motive involved.

But for most of us, especially at the lower levels, if we were to calculate what we make per hour, we’d probably decide there’s greater rewards in asking if the patron would prefer olives or a spiced green bean in their Bloody Mary. Which is why I would love it if a year ago, the Florida Legislature had done to me what Kean University is doing to it’s faculty–making them fill out time sheets.

I’d love it not because I get great joy out of doing tedious paperwork, but because it would make it possible for me to show not only the university administration, but the world at large just how much work I and my fellow academics actually do, as opposed to the amount they think we do.

So I think, in solidarity with my fellow academics at Kean U, and with the ones Wisconsin-Madison, I’m going to start filling out time sheets detailing the amount of time I spend grading, prepping for classes, researching, writing, and of course, teaching and filling office hours. Let’s see how this works out.


February 16, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. It would be much easier to just note down:

    1. sleep
    2. meals
    3. the once a week I go out with friends

    All the rest of the time I am pretty much working.

    Although I suppose it would be interesting to track what kinds of work I am doing in what kind of balance/ratio to the other kinds? How much of my time is class prep vs. creative work, for example? Although that number will undoubtedly make me sad.

    Comment by amy | February 16, 2011 | Reply

  2. Will your school/legislature see creative work, researching, and writing as valuable? Ours probably wouldn’t. There’s no dollar value attached to that, as there is to prepping and grading, which is something they can work out on a per student basis.

    Still, it’s an interesting exercise. Good luck.

    Comment by Sandy Longhorn | February 16, 2011 | Reply

    • If I were tenure-track, then even if they didn’t see it as valuable, I’d still count it, seeing as it’s a requirement of my job that I produce creative/scholarly work. I’ll include it here because it’s part of my attempt to get to a tenure-track position, but I’ll hit 40+ hours a week without it. Besides, if my department gets to brag on my accomplishments, I should be able to count it as part of my job, I think.

      Comment by Brian | February 16, 2011 | Reply

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