College Guide


March 26, 2012 3:20 PM Lazy Faculty?

By Daniel Luzer

Leaving aside all of the things he got wrong here, perhaps the most troublesome is the premise for the whole thing: Professors were originally given the research and teaching load distribution they have now, coupled with summers off, as a way to provide them with a nice enough lifestyle that would compensate for the low pay they originally received. This isn’t true. In fact they were given the teaching and research expectations they have because that‘s what universities believed best allowed them to still be productive researchers.

Making professors teach more, which is essentially what this amounts to, just means they’ll research less. Perhaps Levy thinks this is okay, but then be up front about it. It’s inappropriate to hide behind irrelevant discussions of relative workload of professors compared to business executives. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • ceilidth on March 26, 2012 10:13 PM:

    Maybe Levy didn't work any harder than that. That's why he "knows" that a professor teaching 12-15 hours of classtime doesn't spend near that time in prep, grading, office hours and other requirements of the job. I'm sure there are lazy people in other fields also, but don't assume that because you never did any work, that that's the norm.

  • Snarki, child of Loki on March 26, 2012 11:21 PM:

    As usual, it's a top administrator trying to divert attention away from where the real cost $$ are being wasted: administration.

    Fact is, pick any university in the US. Fire half of the administrators...any half, doesn't matter..and not only will the cost go down, but the efficiency will go UP.

    That's because the only way you can keep all those administrators busy in their little empires, is by having them impede the work of those who actually EDUCATE.

  • Texas Aggie on March 27, 2012 12:16 AM:

    I was going to say pretty much what Snarki and cellidth said. It was notable that Levy "forgot" to mention that administrators spend even less productive time than professors do and are paid a lot more. And Snarki's observation on firing half the administrators applies to all levels of education from elementary school on up.

    Robert Farley pretty much hit the nail on the head in his comments about Levy's screed. He should have noted that most professors are required to do things besides research and teaching that take up a lot of time and count toward tenure. Administrators don't do those things.

  • William Burns on March 27, 2012 7:38 AM:

    Everything's cool because the senior faculty make as much as the average of all those with advanced degrees? Surely the issue is average vs. average, not elite vs. average. That kind of logic wouldn't pass muster in an undergrad paper.

  • paul on March 27, 2012 8:43 AM:

    If classroom time is the only time that professors teach, then clearly meetings are the only time that managers manage. I can't think of any top or even middle managers who spend 15 hours a week in meetings. And yet we pay them for 40 (or more) hours a week, just based on their say-so that the time they spend alone in their offices is productive working time.

  • godot on March 27, 2012 9:02 AM:

    Farley's right, Levey's an idiot. My wife works as a full professor at a major state university. She's written two well-received books, teaches packed classes, has won major teaching awards, speaks at conferences, is researching a third book and spends a part of her time teaching high-school teachers about the cutting edge research in her discipline. I watched her work over spring break on a third book, and see her constantly working over the summer and during other breaks. She makes less than $80K/year. Question. How can she get one of these community college gigs?

  • pasco on March 27, 2012 2:11 PM:

    I remember my elementary school in the mid fifties--6 grades and a principal who also taught 3rd grade. Total students about 150; staff 7 (included a nurse) No secretary, no receptionist and no security guard.

  • disgusted on March 30, 2012 12:13 AM:

    The Myth of the Lazy College Professor--OBSERVED. I must add a different slant. Recently a new professor at a major Ca. Bay Area University moved into our neighborhood. We would like to have the same work hours that we see. Every other professional in the neighborhood leaves before dawn and comes home after dark while this professor MAYBE works 10 hours week-MAYBE. A tenured professor. Not emeritus status. No tough life there while this person works in the garage, mows the lawn and has a nice day of R & R while normal hardworking people of the world work hard. While students are digging into their pockets for tuition or the professional parents that I work with everyday struggle to come up with tuition money for their kids this fool exemplifies what is really wrong with the picture. Whack down the salaries of waste-of-time professors like this one and maybe all universities would not be in trouble. Sorry---but this is what the neighborhood observes MOST weekdays which does not fare well for professors boasting they have a tough work life as compared to most people these days. No..we don't sit home with binoculars watching this fool--at 5 am his house is dark while we all head into rush hour traffic.
    The neighborhood gardeners (who get cancelled by their boss in the rain) work harder than this fool. No doubt a tenured six-figured salary in a (waste of time) major he teaches. Try medicine----or law----where you have no time to barely breathe during a stressful and hectic day. We come home to watch this illustrious, tenured professor fooling around in the garage or mowing the lawn or using his skill saw in the back yard. We come home--his car is in the driveway. Tough day. Fraud. Dishonesty?
    Students/parents do NOT deserve to fund a salary for this self-centered fool. What a rip to the educational system.
    Universities begging alumni for money while we watch this waste of a salary. Parents digging into pockets for tuition! Shame on Universities for allowing this. Shame on this university for allowing this.

  • ceilidth on April 03, 2012 10:51 AM:

    Glad disgusted and his gossipy neighbors don't live near me. They sure seem like the ones with a heck of a lot of time to waste. Imagine the outrage: his lights aren't on at 5am! And he's working in the yard when they get home after dark instead of being out in rush hour traffic! Maybe he wasn't completely brain dead and didn't choose to live somewhere requiring four hours of commuting time every day. Maybe he is doing a lot of his work at home and therefore has an extra four hours a day. Just because you commute an insane amount of time doesn't mean that's work time. In my personal experience in the work world, the people who worked twelve hours a day were not the most productive. They just thought seat time equaled work time or they had no life.

  • disgusted on April 06, 2012 4:40 PM:

    ceilidth: You are delusional to believe that laziness does not exist in any profession. Either you are an educator who refuses to look at the reality of what we have posed and positioned here as a counter-argument or you are a starry-eyed student who has yet to get out in the work force at a real job? Either way, pal, no one in our neighborhood sits at home doing pedicures, doodling around or picking daisies--------wake up. These are real live neighbors who work for a living, not gossip columnists. Get a clue. This is a LAZY Chair of a Department who spends more time fooling around at home than educating students. A true rip to the system.