A Further Thought on Adjuncts

Mar 2 2015

Several faculty correspondents have written in and expressed a misunderstanding of a remark that I made in a recent post about the use of adjuct professros for teaching at the College. On February 24th I noted:

For some historical background, back in my day all of the College's professors taught five courses each year; today professors in the Sciences teach only three courses, and profs in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses. In theory, the faculty produces more research; in actuality, students have less contact with tenure-worthy professors.

I was not opining that faculty teaching loads should be returned to previous levels. If other schools have reduced the requirement for teaching, it would be competitive suicide for the College to move in the opposite direction. Our ability to hire the top people would be immediately harmed. However, when the administration and faculty chose to cut teaching by humanists and social scientists by 20% and by scientists by 25%, they created a concomitant obligation to increase the size of the tenure-track faculty -- rather than either reduce the number of offered courses or increase the number of adjunct professors. After all, nobody suggested that tuition be cut when the quality of courses offered to students was diminished. If that obligation were not met -- and it was not -- then the quality of teaching at Dartmouth diminished.

One other note on adjuncts: as a rule they do not attend department meetings nor serve on departmental or College committees, nor do they usually do research. And not holding the protections of tenure, they are, theoretically at least, limited in voicing unpopular opinions.

The above is not to say that there are not fine teachers and human beings among the adjunct faculty (though there are lousy teachers and shallow radical in the cohort, too), but the College could distinguish itself by increasing the quality of its faculty if it departed from the modern trend of an ever greater number of adjuncts in its ranks.

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London Diary: Paradoxymoron

Mar 1 2015

The British Museum has a piece of artwork in an inauspicious place: on a wall in the back hallway leading to the coatcheck area and the washroom. There is no reason for it to be there, other than the fact that it is a great deal of fun to walk around. Take a look:

The work is entitled Paradoxymoron; it was created by by British artist Patrick Hughes in 1996.

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The College's Energy Website

Feb 28 2015

The ever-creative DALI Lab at the College has worked with the College's energy-generation plant to produce a complete website about energy use at Dartmouth. The site is replete with interesting facts:

Dartmouth Energy1.jpg

And the history of energy at the College is covered, too:

Heating Plant Comp.jpg

Addendum: The College's energy generation facility switched from coal to oil in 1922. Word has it that another change is in the offing: from oil to now-plentiful natural gas. That's a fracking good idea.

Addendum: A technically minded alumnus writes in with a comment:

One thing struck me when I followed your post to the College's Energy Website: The College burns a lot of No. 6 heating oil.

If you don't know, No. 6 is heavy oil that must be preheated before burning. It is cheaper, dirtier, and contains more btu's per gallon than the more common No. 2 (which is essentially diesel fuel). No. 6 is typically used in large commercial boilers, and NYC has mandated its phase out (see here, for example). We converted our last no. 6 apartment building three years ago and are now mostly burning natural gas.

It's good to see the college reportedly is converting to natural gas for both cost and pollution reasons. But it's mildly surprising that no one has made an issue of the burning of No. 6 oil.

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