Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beachware as workwear

I've had this beachy, breezy (and sadly a bit see through) tunic sitting in my closet for a while. I haven't worn it to the beach yet (because I've been wearing jersey dresses) and I wish I was going to the beach today, but I'm working and have a phone meeting with a writing partner (this is huge help for me, as I need a deadline). I am not quite sure how to wear this, as it ends mid thigh, which I wouldn't think twice about wearing on its own with a tighter fitting dress/skirt, but this is nice and billowy. For today, I paired it with brown shorts, which you can kind of see peeking out underneath.
Do you have any ideas on how I can make this more wearable?

Now, unrelated to clothes, but a part of my "Fashions in Academics" series, is this whole "debate" about getting rid of tenure. Some say, "more competition" and others say "it needs to be flexible to deal with different demands and lifestyles". The NYT has a "Room for Debate" series on "The End of Tenure." Cathy Trower, of Harvard's Education school, goes so far as to call it outdated, because it was created by a cabal of "white men." Interesting rhetoric.
I don't know the answer to these debates about getting rid of tenure. I know that there are problems, just like any other system, but whatever is said and done, I happen to be a fan of job security, for everyone. I truly don't understands argument such as "oh, well I don't have strong job security, so why should others?" I also don't understand why some folks constantly praise the use of part time, temporary, insecure adjunct teaching (or "sessionals" as they are called in that great state to the North) is not the solution. While I respect adjuncts and think they do great work (I'm married to an adjunct, and the man is dedicated to his students), I don't see how poor pay, no job security, and limited access to resources and voice benefits anyone, except a university administrator who narrowly seeks to minimize teach costs, with little regard for the students.

The funniest contribution to the debate was one by a Prof. Taylor, who claims that professors make over $200,000/year, average, post tenure. Based on the data from Illinois (which I consider a very average state, cost of living wise), the average full professor at a public doctoral institution makes between $90K-$120K/year.* I do not know Prof. Taylor's public university world, but the current alternative, in which adjuncts in NYC have to scrape a living at about $3,500/course/semester (pre-tax), can't possibly be the solution.

So, is tenure just outdated? Economic security a thing that went out style with the Cold War? Were your tenured profs distant, research obsessed idiots? Would love to hear your thoughts.

*Prof. Taylor argues that tenure, over 35 years of service, costs a public institution about $10 million. According to a dude from MIT's school of management, benefits usually add about 20-40% extra. I'm being generous and assuming an additional 8% IRA/pension contribution and I calculated a 48% fringe.


  1. I've got nothing on tenure, since we don't have anything like that here in corporate America. But since you asked about tenured profs, most of mine actually enjoyed teaching, so it doesn't seem like the worst idea. I did have a super wacky one that made mention of his tenured status pretty much every class and threw our curriculum completely out the window so we could read his incredibly long and awful book instead. On the fashion side of things, he wore the same damn purple turtleneck everyday. Seriously. Every day.

    But back to you -- the tunic looks good in the picture where you have your hands in your pockets. Would you consider shortening the length a bit? (I realize that would make it no longer a tunic, but I'm digging it as shirt)

    By the way, I could really use another beach day. I haven't been since you were here last month, which is a shame.

  2. I'd probably layer the tunic over a dress. I think it would look cute with jeans too, once it isn't so warm in your neck of the woods.

    I don't have an issue with the notion of tenure in high education. From what I've seen, most profs work hard to earn their tenured status, so they don't get a guaranteed job just for putting in time at their desk. I also think that having high quality professors will bring more revenue to the school in the long run, both in terms of attracting students and attracting outside money in the form of grants and patents, etc. Offering tenure should help those schools to attract talented faculty members. Finally, I like the idea of academic freedom that is associated with tenure.

    My undergrad and grad degrees are in two very different fields, and I can only remember one tenured prof complaining about having to teach instead of doing research.

  3. Tenure's still necessary. Look at the guys who just got persecuted for so-called Climategate! In an environment when crazy conservative science-denialists are everywhere, and Glenn Beck and his ilk can put instant pressure (including publishing the University President's address on the interwebs and sending a batch of idiots waving guns, torches or pitchforks to his/her home) on a University if someone's research happens to stick in their craw, and public officials can be fired instantly over faked up Youtube videos, I think we need tenure, if anything, more than we might have earlier in this century. Although earlier in this century we had McCarthy and Father Coughlin, so maybe it's the same diff.

  4. I'm with Cynthia, even though I don't live in your fair country. Adjunct or Sessional work is gruelling and awful, and I really don't understand why administrators posit it as a solution to the tenure "issue" as adjuncts have to struggle to find time to do research - the very thing universities continue to market themselves through internationally.

    Also, I detest the ridiculous fantasy that university teaching happens only in the 3.5 months for which sessional faculty are paid. We all know there's at least a month's worth of over-hang in terms of administrative duties for each course. And then there are the reference letters students request long after their sessional professor has ceased to be paid for performing any duties whatsoever in relation to that course.

    And finally, that tunic is adorbs as is. But I also think you should wear it like V did hers at G & G last weekend: over a worn-in-the-city bikini top with some hard core leggings and strappy heels.

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  7. Darned comment-gobbling blogger.
    Well, I like your tunic but if you're wearing it as a tunic, it might look best with a longish skirt, something gauzy and flowy. It looks cool & comfortable.

  8. Great post! I agree that adjuncting is not the answer. For tunic, how about jeans and gladiator wedges?

  9. i love the tunic! i have a favorite swim coverup that i wear to the office all the time as a dress- i wouldn't get to wear it otherwise since i never go to the beach. i think you could layer a knee-length skirt under the tunic for another way to wear it.

    i hope tenure sticks around. my goal is to be a professor full-time, and of course i would want tenure! i also have never felt that my tenured professors were lazy or distant or resting on their laurels- on the contrary they're the ones constantly getting research grants and writing proposals and doing extra work. ~joelle

  10. I would love to give you a well thought out answer to the tenure subject but college was a long time ago. However, I do understand job security and how it has made Mike and my life better and decisions for the kids easier.

    As for the tunic, a little of A-Dubs (leggings) and a little of AUH (jeans). Have you thought of jegging? Boho with an edge. Maybe a tank underneath for the sheer factor. Of course that wouldn't work for 90 degree weather. Let me think about it more...

    And yes, let's gush as soon as I'm finished with the books.

  11. These are all great ideas. Especially the leggings/jeggings, as I've already got them (shopping diet). I think over a dress/skirt would work in cooler weather too.
    The problem with this dang thing is that it is the perfect thing to wear when it's so hot out, but only wearable layered. Darn you, $1.50 tunic/dress/top! Why are you a challenge?
    Maybe I could take scissors to it and make it an awesome longish jacket, to wear layered in all these permutations? Stay tuned...

  12. @koo:It looks a bit like something your mum would wear, yeah?

  13. Oh my god YES you are right. In bright pink and without the string in the middle. Miss you x

  14. @koo:It looks a bit like something your mum would wear, yeah?