No one who was present at the presidential panel organized by John Marincola in San Francisco will soon forget the combination of analysis, passion, and practicality offered by the speakers, as they sought to quantify and personalize the plight of those looking for permanent academic employment today (Eleanor Dickey, Stephanie Budin), to suggest a wider range of career possibilities for those with doctorates in classics and the humanities more broadly (John Paul Christy), and to propose ways large and small in which all of us can help make the working conditions of adjunct faculty more humane and more likely to keep them active members of our scholarly community (Toph Marshall). John’s introduction, the four talks, and the discussion period are now available as audio files on the Society’s web site If you missed the session (or couldn’t find a place in the packed room), this is your chance to catch its compelling story.
Older members will recall other disastrous job markets—I got my degree in the throes of the collapse of the early 1970s—but there is a widespread sense that today’s problems are structural rather than cyclical, the product above all of the disinvestment in public higher education practiced by state governments in recent decades. We cannot simply wait for the shortage of jobs to go away. As Toph pointed out, most of what ability to act we have lies in us as individuals and departments. But there is certainly a role for the Society to play, and John has kindly agreed to continue to lead this effort during his year as Past President. I hope, for example, that we can turn many of Toph’s dicta into a code of best practices, an effort that John Miller will lead in the Committee on Professional Matters.
In the Board’s meeting on January 9, there was a consensus that we should also do whatever we can to help keep the contingent faculty active in the Society’s scholarly life, particularly the Annual Meeting. Toward that end, we have decided to extend the program of small travel grants for the meeting that already exists for graduate students to the contingent faculty as well, starting with the Toronto meeting next January. We have also begun conversations with the AIA about introducing a reduced registration fee for the meeting for adjunct faculty.
Your generosity to the Annual Fund last year made it possible this year to increase those travel grants for graduate students in both number and size. The Society needs your help again so that the travel grants program can grow to help the contingent faculty, who are often much less well supported than students are. If you have not yet made your 2015-16 gift to the Annual Fund, please consider supporting this cause. If you have already given, thank you—and might you consider an additional gift to help the contingent faculty? You can make your donation online or you can print out a response form and return it to the SCS Office. As always, of course, the Society is grateful for gifts for any of its programs, which depend importantly on our members’ generosity.