A slightly annotated reconstruction of my response to the survey distributed to all Rutgers faculty as part of the new president’s Strategic Planning initative. Subtitle: Why not be idealistic
Survey response (at end, after the multiple choice questions)1:
It is my highest hope that the strategic planning process will affirm Rutgers’s commitment to its core mission as a great public university. That mission aims above all at two goals:
- The best-quality teaching for all, accessible to all who live in the state.
- Outstanding achievement in research, especially in the core arts and sciences disciplines (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences).
In order to pursue this mission, the strategic plan should aim at two goals:
- A robust permanent faculty of scholars, treated with the respect professionals deserve. Rutgers should reduce its proportion of non-tenure-track and part-time instructors from current levels (in 2009, according to MLA, around 50% at all three campuses) to 10%. The faculty’s working conditions are the students' learning conditions. Over-reliance on adjunct teaching, or attempts to substitute online instruction for the irreplaceable experience of learning together in the classroom, destroy the promise of quality education. The overuse of contingent teachers has also damaged the ability of the scholarly profession to produce the next generation of scholars.
- Return tuition to 1990 levels. Students are crushed by enormous levels of debt. It is Rutgers’s responsibility to show the state government that underfunding the university prevents us from fulfilling our mission of accessible quality education. It also our responsibility to make the case for state support by pursuing the highest quality in research and teaching.
Finally, because it appears that infrastructure will be particularly important to the strategic plan, it is important that work on new facilities focus as much on renewing and developing classrooms and libraries as on building research facilities.
Assistant Professor of English
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
A reconstruction because I forgot to copy the text and save it before the web survey app swallowed it forever. Writing this immediately after in an effort to be more or less accurate.↩