We’ve got trouble, friends–right here! Republican legistlators in the Hawkeye State are ginning up the kulkurkampfen again by targeting professors’ sabbaticals at public universities. They think that Iowans are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of sabbaticals in public university budgets! Unsurprisingly, incoming House speaker Kraig Paulsen doesn’t remember that there are all kinds of biomedical faculty, business professors, and engineering proffies in Iowa. He targets Medieval Studies and Music!
It’s awful hard to look a taxpayer in the eye and say, “You need to pay higher property taxes so that a professor can take a year off from teaching to go research superstitions on the Middle Ages or write a musical.”
I wonder how sabbaticals would fare if faculty proposed instead to remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock, and the Golden Rule?
The story at Marketplace is actually in sympathy with preserving sabbaticals–their angle of the story is that it’s penny-wise but pound-foolish, and they interview someone from the AAUP to make the case for preserving faculty sabbaticals. I sure wish he had been permitted to expand on the other point he made, which is that faculty aren’t just teachers, we’re also contractually obligated to produce research as well as contribute to self-governance and service. Yes, those very people who don’t want their property taxes to go up have also–through university boards and administrators–required us to do much more than just teach our classes.
As far as I can tell, my sabbatical in 2007-08 at Baa Ram U. actually made money for my university. Like most American faculty we only get a full year at half pay or one semester at full pay, so the people who take the whole year end up paying for the people on half-year sabbaticals. I took the full year of leave, so the college kited half my salary to cover the other sabbaticals. They didn’t hire anyone to teach my courses, advise students, or to help carry the burden of service. (My colleagues all pitched in and did it for free, again, as we all do every year for colleagues who are on leave. Somehow, that’s never recognized in these conversations about how costly sabbaticals are at public unis.)
Then again, maybe Paulsen has a point. After all, what has musical theater ever done for “I-o-waaaay? ”
He really ought to give Iowa–HAWKEYE IOWA–a try!