We eat Ramen noodles, too: even prestigious grants are self-funded fellowships

Exellence without Money, round bajillion and one:  (my previous posts on this topic are here.)

This is a question for all of you faculty-types out there:  when you win a grant or fellowship to fund your research, do you get a salary match?  I had thought salary matches were a pretty normal thing.  I even got one from my former university–and get this:  the Dean even agreed to pay my rent in Fellowship City, as he understood that Fratguy and I had just bought a house, and that Fratguy needed someplace to live as he wasn’t able to take a 6-month sabbatical from his job!  That university was a mid-tier sectarian private uni, too–and it proudly called itself a “comprehensive” university, not an R-1. 

I was shocked to learn last year that my college at Baa Ram U.–which is officially an R-1 uni–doesn’t match our salaries when we win grants.  Accordingly, my colleagues who have won fellowships to do research recently have eaten a major pay cut (even with our craptacular salaries.  Most humanities grants top out at $40,000 or $50,000 a year, which is less than most mid-career faculty are earning even in my woefully underpaid department.)  On top of this, many of them also have had to fund, plan, and execute complicated international travel.  It has not always been like this:  a colleague of mine said that when she asked for a salary match 15 years ago to take a residential fellowship, it was approved within the department–it didn’t even have to go to the dean’s office.  Continue reading

Pretty on the inside

I saw Steve the Stylist yesterday for a haircut.  While waiting for him, I found myself drawn to one of those “plastic surgery disasters”-type cover stories on a celebrity magazine, in which different photographs of celebrities (all women) are compared, analyzed by cosmetic surgeons, and the results decried as “ruining” the celebrities’ faces, breasts, or whatever.  We both commented on the rank unfairness of an entertainment industry that won’t employ women over 35 or 40 unless they’ve had repeated cosmetic interventions, but then of course these women are mocked and derided for succumbing to the procedures that keep them employable.

Steve offered a fascinating observation based on having had clients who have had botox injections.  Continue reading

Sunday round-up: snow fun at all!

I’m not in fact skiing today with the rest of the famille Historiann, as I have too much work to catch up on.  Here are a few ideas and miscellaneous items to keep you warm on this cold and snowy weekend:

  • Today in slactivism:  Reader and commenter Susan passed this along–all you have to do is click on the slide show to enable a donation to help the education of girls in Pakistan.
  • Speaking of education:  how about some support for the education of girls and boys in the United States?  When I read stories like this b!tching about the low 4-year graduation rates at universities in my state, and at the same time the high rate of remediation our high school graduates require, why doesn’t anyone point out that hack politicians and businessmen have made war on K-16+ education for years, attacking public education at all levels in particular as wasteful and ideologically suspect, and in general doing their best to withdraw public sympathy and taxpayer support for any kind of education?  At the same time, they’ve also conspired to pass laws that offer incentives to corporations for taking their money and their jobs offshore to chase the cheapest labor around the planet.   Now, all of a sudden, they’ve seized on the idea that College for Everyone is the way to save the U.S. economy–because the factory and manufacturing jobs are gone and because construction is in the toilet, everyone needs to be a knowledge worker now.  So whose responsibility is it to turn everyone into knowledge workers?  Continue reading

On selling your department to job candidates, and true confessions from job interview hell

Flavia at Ferule & Fescue has a terrific post now about selling one’s own department to job candidates on campus visits.  She explains why she’s putting some real effort into recruiting quality job candidates rather than just letting the ridiculous buyer’s market sort everything out:

So I’m rousing myself at 7.30 a.m. and driving to campus every day we have a candidate visiting, making time for each one’s job talk and teaching demo andeither lunch or dinner. I’m donning a suit (to communicate respect for the candidate and the general professionalism of the department), I’m asking encouraging questions, and I’m doing my damnedest, through my interactions with my colleagues, to show as well as tell our candidates that we’re a happy and collegial place where friendships extend outside of the office. I want our candidates to see how intellectually engaged we are, and how interested in other people’s work. I want for our students to perform well, and for Cha-Cha City to sound and look appealing, and for the campus, ideally, not to be covered in a sheet of ice.

And in fact I’m not sure why having the department come off well matters so very much to me. The job market is terrible, our list is deep, and though we don’t always get our our first-choice candidate we’ve never had a search fail and have always wound up with someone wonderful.

But I guess I wish to extend the sort of kindness to our candidates that the department extended to me on my visit–and, more selfishly, I wish for the people whom we don’t hire or who don’t accept our offers (and perhaps, by extension, their colleagues and friends and advisors) to have a warm impression of our department. There’s nothing bad about good press.

How very adult and courteous!  Well done, Flavia. 

While it’s great to be regarded well as a host department, there’s also the more immediate issue of treating your guests decently and as though they’re not wasting their time on a campus visit.  There’s nothing more excruciating than being on a campus visit as a job candidate and feeling unwanted during the interview, which is something that happened to me once.  Continue reading

Today’s fake controversy: contraception and Obamacare

It's. . . THE BISHOP

Gail Collins has written an excellent column on the fake controversy that the Republican presidential candidates and the U.S. Catholic Bishops are making over the Obama administration’s rule that Catholic institutions that are not Churches and do not impose a religious test on its employees (universities and hospitals, principally) must offer insurance coverage for birth control.  She explains quite succinctly that the right to religious liberty does not imply a right to impose one’s belief on others:

Catholic doctrine prohibits women from using pills, condoms or any other form of artificial contraception. A much-quoted study by the Guttmacher Institute found that virtually all sexually active Catholic women of childbearing age have violated the rule at one point or another, and that more than two-thirds do so consistently.

.       .       .       .      .       .      

The church is not a democracy and majority opinion really doesn’t matter. Catholic dogma holds that artificial contraception is against the law of God. The bishops have the right — a right guaranteed under the First Amendment — to preach that doctrine to the faithful. They have a right to preach it to everybody. Take out ads. Pass out leaflets. Put up billboards in the front yard.

The problem here is that they’re trying to get the government to do their work for them. They’ve lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside. Continue reading

Caucus night in Colorado: who’s who, and WTF?

It’s caucus night!  I’m not caucusing because that’s only for Republicans, but apparently dozens of my fellow citizens are wandering dazedly through middle school hallways looking for their precinct caucus room right now as I’m typing.  God love ’em.  This roundup has a Republican primary theme to it.  Cue the Lee Greenwood sound track, and let’s rock:

  • Who is Callista Bisek Gingrich, and why does she appear to be a strangely convincing Mad Men-era historical reenactor?  Ariel Levy offers some insights:  “She does not seem like a forty-five-year-old, or at least not like a forty-five-year-old of this era. She has the style and smile of an astronaut’s wife, even in her downtime. Once, in Cedar Rapids, I happened to run into her in the women’s bathroom at the airport. In her suit and pearls, with her stiff coiffure, she looked as if she had just exited a beauty parlor in 1962.”  (My theory:  it’s all in the coiff.  She may have been a wash-n-wear kind of gal back in the day, but once you’re spending that kind of time and money on an oddly unfashionable hairdo, you’re all in.)
  • From the right Alana Goodman argues that the Stepford Wife persona doesn’t actually make voters forget she’s Newt’s third wife.  Rather, it makes the Gingrich marriage appear even stranger and more off-putting.  I think the public should leave the spouses of the candidates alone, since after all they’re not running for anything, and if their wives or husbands win they won’t not be offered a paid position in the government.  But Goodman is probably right that the deadeye Pat Nixon impersonation is only going to invite unwanted speculation.  And those of you on the left may well think it only fair play given the ugliness that Michelle Obama has had to deal with, which has been clearly and persistently racialized. 
  • Who would have thought that Mommie would turn out to be one of the more interesting and powerful First Ladies on the Republican side?  Give me Nancy Reagan any day, in her off-the-shoulder Galanos gown over Nixon or Barbara or Laura Bush.  Cue the Dynasty soundtrack!
  • In “Who in God’s Name is Mitt Romney?” Frank Rich argues that the mystery in the riddle wrapped in the enigma that is Willard Mitt Romney is in fact his religion, which although agressively evangelical is also famous for keeping its secrets and sacred rites to members only.  Continue reading