Tag Archive: Free Ph.D

Can you imagine college students being denied their hard-earned final grades for … three months or more?

The reason: privileged graduate teaching fellows (GTFs) decided to hurt their students to line their own pockets.

Guess Lord John Dahlberg-Acton’s saying is still true: “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Aren’t these students — waiting week-after-week for their final grades — essentially the paying “customers” of major universities, including the University of California at Santa Cruz?

Many are going into debt to pay way-too-high 6 percent interest for their tuition. Others are waiting tables and taking any job they can find to fund their college. Some are fortunate enough to have their parents dig deep for them.

Regardless of how the money is raised, they expect a return on their investment (ROI).

And yet the result of their years of hard work, including hours of studying, researching, drafting papers and presentations, is being denied to them by … striking graduate students.

These graduate teaching fellows (GTFs) are being provided free master’s or doctoral degrees from a UC System university. They are demanding $1,412 more per month for their stipend to live in a desirable, but expensive Pacific Ocean fronting locale.

Did anyone hold a gun to their heads demanding they accept this wonderful opportunity to research and teach in Santa Cruz?

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly asked in earlier blogs: ‘Where are the university presidents?’

In most cases they are cowering and quivering under their desks, living in mortal fear of their easily excitable and always demanding unionized faculty.

At least in the case of the courageous leadership of UC Santa Cruz,  54 graduate students were dismissed this past Friday for denying students, what they had legitimately earned three months ago … their final grades.

Worse, they are asking their victims (e.g., their students) to support their unionized militancy.

Hate To Admit It …

This is yet another example of ‘What are they thinking,’ unionized graduate student research fellows, receiving a free master’s degree or Ph.D plus valuable teaching experience and a stipend, not a salary. … What a deal!

Your author is ashamed to acknowledge that he was once a member of the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation (GTFF) at the University of Oregon from fall 2010 to spring 2012.

The unsuccessful angry strike of hundreds of bright, but not smart, GTFs at the University of Oregon during Fall 2014 dead week — only punished students — not the university.

And now graduate students at the bucolic, near-the-ocean University of California at Santa Cruz wrongly withheld the grades of their students as a bargaining chip for three months. Similar petty actions by petulant and selfish graduate teachers are planned at University of California at Santa Barbara (e.g., full strike) and the University of California at Davis (e.g., withholding winter term grades).

Terminating 54 arrogant banana slug graduate teaching fellows at UCSC reminds your author of President Ronald Reagan courageously firing striking federal air traffic controllers in August 1981, who were flaunting federal law designed to safeguard the lives of passengers.

Will UCSC continue to exhibit old-fashioned Reaganesque guts to deliver final grades after three months to students — who have been hurt by this silly strike — or will they cave? These students and their parents should not required to wait one minute more for what they are justifiably due.

“Total Douche-o-Rama”

When Almost DailyBrett dared to offend the University of Oregon graduate teaching fellow union six years ago, the responses — intended to stifle dissent — were vicious.

Some of the nicer salvos including the non sequitur, “This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy.” And … “This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position at Fox News.” (Thank you).

And finally, “I’m puking in my mouth.” Hopefully, Listerine came to the rescue.

As a retired tenure track professor in public relations at Central Washington University (CWU) for four academic years, there were zero teaching assistants. The task of educating, mentoring, and providing final grades on time was my responsibility and mine alone.

Yours truly was never going on strike, but instead concentrated on the job at hand.

Maybe the University of Oregon, the University of California Santa Cruz and others should make do without spoiled graduate teaching fellows?

Think of it this way: Without graduate teaching fellows, there are no strikes.

And without strikes, students … our customers … secure a better education and their final grades as well.





UCSC cancels classes, shutters services as demonstrators block roadways

Fired UCSC grad students speak out, campus prepares for impacts

After at least four years of more lectures, labs, study groups, readings, papers and presentations than you would ever care to count, the prospect of taking up to another 18 months to attain a master’s degree or maybe even four years to earn a Ph.D is a prospect most graduating seniors would rather not even think about.

And yet the question still persists for some: Should you seriously consider taking the advanced degree plunge right here and now following graduation? Consider that even more employers are requiring advanced degrees; many want MBAs.

Before answering this perplexing interrogative: Consider the unmistakable NFW response by the author of Almost DailyBrett in 1978. Yours truly had just received his bachelor’s in Broadcasting Journalism from the University of Southern California. There was simply no way when it came to the question of signing up for even more college.

I was done, thank you very much.

Looking back at that easy-and-yet momentous decision, your author now regrets not pursuing a master’s degree right then and there, when he was as free as a bird … no spouse, no kidlet, no mortgage, no car payment … absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were right in Stairway to Heaven: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

A confluence of events in my life (i.e., widowerhood, adult daughter, real estate appreciation, fellowship) gave me that one-last-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree in mid-life at the University of Oregon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was very fortunate, very fortunate indeed.

Died and Went to Heaven

When the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication offered me a fellowship, your author jumped at the opportunity in two nanoseconds or less.

You should do the same, if you are selected for an on-campus fellowship at a R1 university.

Becoming a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) provides the following benefits:

  1. An absolutely free master’s degree or Ph.D … yep no-instate or better yet, no out-of-state or private school tuition;
  2. Medical, dental and vision health care benefits for at least the fellow, and maybe the whole family as well;
  3. A stipend of $1,000 or more per month;
  4. Invaluable teaching experience as a teaching assistant to a professor.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote before, I appreciated this unbelievable deal and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was perplexing to say the least when the University of Oregon GTFs went on strike in 2014 … Patience, Kevin. Patience. Let’s not get started on this subject again.

Some have asked: Should I take an online master’s degree or Ph.D? My short answer is nein.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in public relations, marketing, journalism, broadcast, film etc., it is best to be on campus to directly interact with your colleagues and Ph.D professors. Sorry to say, file sharing and texting just don’t cut it.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in accounting, an online program may be appropriate. Having said that, communications requires – face-to-face interaction and diplomacy – no online program can help you advance these interpersonal story telling skills.

What about the necessary evil? The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Brace yourself and come to full acceptance mode as quickly as possible. Any graduate school worth its salt (sorry University of Phoenix, that designation does NOT apply to you), particularly a Research One or R1 university, will require the GRE.

Your author took it twice, the second time after a prep course, and lived to talk about it. Take the prep course and do as well as possible on the GRE.

What About Grad School?

“No one does bull shit better than you.” – A compliment from one of my USC fraternity brothers

Trust me, bull shit does not work in Pro Seminar.

The two-night-per week, three-hours per class, was the most intense review of communications philosophy one can imagine (i.e., Kant, Marx, Althusser, Descartes, Hegel, Le Bon …). Don’t even think about going to class without doing the reading; you can’t hide in plain sight for three hours. Don’t even think about B.S.- ing a full professor with a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

And once you have navigated the benign sounding, but mind-numbing Pro Seminar class with its up-to-five hours per night of reading, you will be ready for … qualitative and quantitative analysis in the next quarter.

Sounds horrible? Right?

In reality, pursuing a graduate degree was an incredible and rewarding challenge. It soon dawned on me that I was only using a mere fraction of my brain. I made some great friends as well.

One of my profs said: “We are working on your intellectual growth.”

Intellectual growth? Me? Really?

Oh, did I mention that my master’s degree was an absolute prerequisite for landing a tenure track professorship in public relations and advertising at Central Washington University? Guess, learning about Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperatives was well worth it.







Want a free master’s degree and/or Ph.D?


How about comprehensive medical, dental and health insurance for the entire family?

Four months off each year including university paid winter-and-spring breaks?

How about invaluable experience teaching at the university level?

And a monthly stipend around $1,000?

And how about being offered a 9 percent pay increase during the next two years?

Does all of the above sound like a great opportunity?

Yep, that’s what the University of Oregon provides to its Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs).

And yet … And yet …

Approximately 1,500 members of the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation (GTFF) just voted to go on strike.



The last week of the fall term?

Right before finals?

As a former GTF for the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, I want to cross this picket line big time.

Hallowed Graduate Teaching Fellowship

After 30 years working in both the public, private and non-profit sectors, I was looking for a change.

And that life-shifting event came in the form of a University of Oregon graduate teaching fellowship with all the benefits described above. The author of Almost DailyBrett literally died and went to heaven in 2010.

What an incredible deal.

If someone had suggested striking over these benefits, I would have questioned the sanity of the union and its members … not the first-time the “what are they thinking” question has been posed about organized labor.

As a result of my tenure as a GTF (Hate to admit it; I joined the GTFF), I was able to complete my M.A. in Communications and Society in 15 months. Two weeks later, I was qualified to teach at the university level. Today, I am a tenure track assistant professor of public relations/advertising at Central Washington University.

This position that I secured in the 59th year of my relatively brief stay on the planet would not have been possible without my master’s degree … that is my free UO master’s degree.

Unlike hundreds of thousands of undergraduate and post-graduate students, I have no student debt to pay back. My fellowship not only covered my out-of-state tuition and fees, it included health insurance for myself and my daughter, and a stipend.

Keep in mind, my degree was not awarded by the University of Phoenix, Capella University, DeVry University, Ashford University, Kaplan University or any of the other nod-and-wink universities and colleges, but the University of Oregon.gtff2

As the author of Almost DailyBrett writes this epistle, my framed degrees from the University of Southern California (undergraduate) and the University of Oregon (post-graduate) hang from my office wall here at Bouillon Hall on the CWU campus.

My fellow graduate teaching fellows also received their free degrees (yes, we worked as teaching assistants … not a chore but vital experience). They are now serving as tenure-track professors at the University of Akron, the University of Alabama, the University of Houston and California State University Dominguez Hills respectively.

They earned these tenure-track positions not because of a demanding union, but as a result of the opportunity that was provided to them by the University of Oregon.

Two More Weeks of Paid Leave?

Striking in the face of a 9 percent increase over two-years on the table, the GTFF is demanding two weeks paid family/maternity leave. Let’s see the GTFs want two weeks of  additional leave to be paid by the university? How many workers get the whole summer off on top of a university-paid (four weeks total) winter-and-spring breaks?

What is probably the most galling of this strike action is the sinister timing. This week is dead week with finals to follow next week. The University of Oregon’s 25,000 students are the ones, who are ultimately suffering as a result of this childish-and-selfish action. The same applies for the extra work dumped on professors and instructors at the end of the quarter.


The GTFF probably now regards itself as somewhat relevant. Maybe, it can transition into being a truly militant union?

Sure wish one or more of the GTFs would have commanded the temerity to remind the union membership how frickin’ lucky they are to receive such a generous deal from the University of Oregon.

Guess, courage is in short supply these days. Otherwise, they would be in the classroom where they belong.







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