Tag Archive: GTF


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.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-02-28/uc-santa-cruz-fires-54-graduate-student-workers-wildcat-strike

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/university-of-california-grad-students-striking-for-a-livable-income/

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxe45b/graduate-student-strikes-are-spreading-in-california

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

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.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/did-a-perfect-storm-lead-to-the-gathering-storm/

 

 

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you find: You get what you need.” – Jagger, Richards

Sometimes life turns in directions you never anticipated.

Three years ago, the author of Almost DailyBrett couldn’t find Ellensburg, Washington on the map. This geographical gap in knowledge was not particularly troubling. Why would it be?DSC01202

Having said that, yours truly is writing this blog in a Central Washington University office with the customary diplomas, commissions and photos on the wall as if this result was always somehow in the cards … even though I did not know it for years.

Six years ago, my world consisted of the vaunted six-figures, incredible expenses and working myself to the bone. There was also plenty of time in never-ending traffic jams, three-hour marathon meetings and weekend sales conferences to day-dream about doing more in life including bestowing knowledge to the next generation and serving as a mentor.

There was money, but no time to enjoy the legal tender.

And then a spark came a break that led to a change and with it a second career.

One of my Edelman clients (e.g., TSMC director of brand management) was an adjunct instructor at Santa Clara University. He had a recurring problem. He was required to report to Taiwan, and he couldn’t teach his MBA-students. Would I run his classroom for nearly three hours on a Saturday morning?

Wait a minute; you want me to lecture for 165 minutes about financial communications to 15 Poindexters?

Believe it or not, that’s how it started.

There was also an additional kick in the proverbial derriere: the global economy took a multi-year siesta circa 2008-and-forward. Life was changing. There also seemed to be a concerted effort by society to “pasteurize” literally thousands of Baby Boomers at advanced levels of “maturity” (e.g., more than 50-years+ young).

It was time for something revolutionary for your blog author, including taking the GRE (what a blast) not once, but twice.

Drinking Beer With Fellow College Students … Once Again

Almost DailyBrett earlier discussed taking the plunge into a second career, including serving as a (non-striking) Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF), attaining a master’s degree as a non-traditional student (read: older), becoming an adjunct instructor and finally landing a hard-to-acquire tenure-track assistant professor position in public relations and advertising.beerUO

How’s that for telling those who thought I was ready for pasture to (insert unpleasant phrase here)?

Is it simply a matter of having the will to change, a long resume and everything else will fall in place for those wishing a mid-life academic career?

Not in the slightest. Ponder the Top 10 “intervening variables” to use an academic term:

  • Academic Prejudice. Do universities hire the best-and-the-brightest? Nope, particularly those who received advanced degrees from your university. The reasoning: The profs who taught you as a little academic whipper-snapper will never envision you as a colleague. To have a chance of coming back and teaching at your university, it is best to receive an even higher degree (e.g., Ph.D) from a university far, far away in another universe.
  • Advanced degree or No-Advanced Degree? Almost DailyBrett recommends pursuing a fellowship, resulting in not only a no-cost master’s degree or higher, but also valuable daily teaching and mentoring experience and a stipend. Advanced degrees are “preferred” by virtually every college and university. There are ways around this rule (e.g., professors of practice), but once again these are low-percentage “exceptions” and no way close to standard.
  • Bureaucracy is eternal and laborious. The universal academic mascot for colleges and universities (not the athletic teams; some of which move at warp speed) would be the snail. If college administrators were left to invent the personal computer, the IBM compatible would be debuting this year as opposed to 1981. There are three speeds in academia: Slow, slower and not-at-all.
  • Comprehend the academic and professional worlds are diametrically opposed. Ivory towers say they want oodles of real-world experience, but at the same time they really don’t totally trust non-academic experience. At this point in your life, you will not have the commensurate record of academic publishing and conference presentations, and you never will. Face it and get over it: you will never be treated the same.
  • Digital Immigrants teaching Digital Natives. Engaging on a daily basis on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and blogging is not enough. These social media “first movers” are now 10-years old and older. You need to upgrade your digital skill sets to include Pinterest (2010), Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011) and their inevitable successors.
  • Grading is the worst. Pontificating and bloviating your hard-earned knowledge with your PowerPoint and clicker in a classroom or lecture hall setting is just one part of the job. Syllabi are becoming ever-longer legal contracts, trying to cover every possible uncertainty. Colleges are now even demanding “grading rubrics.” Trust me, there are no corporate bosses that have rubrics. You either do the job or someone else will soon be holding your position.
  • Grade grubbing is even worse.  Young Party Dude will most likely not complain about his C+ on his latest paper. There are oodles of others who will tell you how hard they worked (they need to actually study). What is the worst grade you can give anyone? An “F”? Try a “B+.”
  • Publish or Perish. Similar to the absolutes of death and taxes, there is also the issue of research and service requirements. Life is much more than teaching and grading. It is also hours of research to write a massive tome, submitted to an obscure and molasses-moving academic journal and/or presented at some Holiday-Inn conference. Just as marathoners hit the “wall” at 18 miles, many would-be academic Wunderkindern never make it past the publishing barrier.
  • Research über Alles. Teaching the undergrads is far down on the level-of-esteem list at most universities, particularly R-1 or Research Ones. Tenured professors must work on their Reeesuuuuurrrrcccchhhh. The lecturing and grading of the proletariat is best left to those at the bottom of the academic world totem pole.
  • Vow of Poverty. What are raises? Those taking the plunge into an academic second career need to ensure their nest-eggs are filled. Academia pays a fraction of what can be gained in the private sector, particularly when compared to Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Gotham or the Beltway.

The purpose of this exercise is to provide a real-world peek into the world of academia. It may be for you; it may not. Before you take the GRE, apply for admission and fellowships, make plans to uproot your life, you need to first have your eyes wide open.

The bottom line: Academia is a satisfying world, but it is far from perfect. Most grind their teeth about inflexibility and glacier-like change of the university world. Keep in mind, there are major issues in the corporate, non-profit and public sectors too.

Sometimes you have to get what you need.

Editor’s Note: To be more accurate, The Almost DailyBrett headline should read “From Assistant Press Secretary to Assistant Professor.” Alas, the alliteration is not the same.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/TheStrategist/Articles/view/11473/1125/From_PR_Professional_to_PR_Professor_The_Long_and?spMailingID=12893176&spUserID=ODkxMDgzMDgwMTkS1&spJobID=743018301&spRep

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/launching-a-second-career-2/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/research-uber-alles/

 

 

 

Couldn’t believe my ears.

Did my post-graduate classmate in “Teaching and Professional Life” just state ex-cathedra that (being) “mean is awesome” when it comes to teaching impressionable undergraduate college students?larrysumners

For some reason, the author of Almost DailyBrett can’t just simply vanquish these words, uttered by a Ph.D candidate in communications, from his personal DRAM.

Sure wouldn’t want to be in her classroom.

The question for today is whether this brand of arrogance, callousness and potential cruelty is reaching epidemic proportions on college and university campuses?

What blew me away is that some were actually nodding their heads in affirmation.

I couldn’t agree less.

Who Are Our Customers?

Almost DailyBrett is not universally loved by privileged graduate teaching fellow (GTF) types, so these next thoughts may not be especially well-received either.

When it comes to colleges and universities, who is paying the bills (e.g., salaries, benefits, stipends)? Besides donors and grants, the main answer lies with parents/guardians of students, the students themselves waiting tables, taking out loans or the combination of all the above.

The Economist reported this week that average annual fees at private universities are $31,000 and approximately $10,000 at public universities. The typical college student, who may spend up to six years on campus, will be saddled with $40,000 in debt whether or not she or he graduates.studentloans

And you want to be mean to these students and by natural extension, their families?

And wouldn’t one think that since these students are indeed a prime source of college/university largesse, the service providers (e.g., professors, instructors, GTFs) would actually be nice to their “customers?”

What’s that?

Some believe strongly that colleges and universities should not be run like businesses? They are mostly non-profit. Right? So they should be oriented toward searching for the truth rather than preparing students to find a job? Maybe that attitude und Weltanschauung is at least partially the source of the meanness.

Mentoring/Not Meanness

Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” – Former Secretary of State and Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger

Let’s face the truth.

College and university faculty meetings are generally not happy gatherings. Hours are spent in academic debate, but little if anything changes with the exception of tuition, fees and administrative hirings going up.

Some faculty members have a difficult time impacting their own worlds, so they are not usually in a good mood entering the classroom. This is where meanness and ruthlessness is carried out, just make sure every rule and regulation is included in the syllabus. Maybe, these particular faculty types are more suited to being bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

Don’t get me wrong, faculty members (e.g., professors, instructors, GTFs) cannot be friends with students, but that doesn’t mean we should be enemies. We should care about our students, and the best teachers do just that.

This is where another “M-word” comes into play: Mentoring. We should not be teaching exclusively out of a book, but instead we should be providing real-time knowledge about how the professional world really works.

Our students should venture out into the work-place with their eyes wide open. They should be trained to speak not the words of students, but the language of the workplace. They should know the difference between the top-line and the bottom-line, between revenues and net income or loss.

They should embrace buy low, sell high. They should prove their own return on investment (ROI), not just their degree, but a record of solid experience articulated in cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profiles.people1

If a student demonstrates and proves her/his preparedness for competition for publicly traded/privately held/for profit/non-profit positions, then we as educators should be willing to provide a graduating student with a reference and all the help that we can.

Will the mean professor do that?

Almost DailyBrett has found that very few things in life are more uplifting than reading/hearing about one of your former students being hired and embarking on what very well could be, a rewarding career.

Instead of being mean, let’s mentor with a little tough love, if necessary. Let’s encourage our students to seek out and attain the best anti-poverty, wealth-creation program ever invented: a well-paying private sector position with full benefits and maybe a stock option or two.

All it requires is a little TLC and some mentoring too.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21646219-college-america-ruinously-expensive-some-digital-cures-are-emerging-log

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/dealing-with-online-hecklers/

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/08/18/acad-politics/

 

 

 

 

 

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News! If so, well-played, sir. Your inability to look past the length of your nose and complete lack of logic make you a shoo-in.”

“I’m puking in my mouth.

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

gtf

Maybe this Perfect Idiot Douche-o-Rama should compete for a doctorate?

Or a pundit on Fox News?

Never in recorded history has a humble blog drawn so much vitriol when the stakes were so low.

At Least The Name Was Spelled Right

Far worse than being misquoted is not being quoted at all.” – Former Presidential Communications Director Pat Buchanan

“Communicators need to learn how to handle the hecklers on social media.  It is now a required skill. I know of two agencies and three Silicon Valley companies who include this in their pre-employment tests. What a great real-life example to show them (students)!“ — Colleen Pizarev, PR Newswire Vice President

Writing a provocative blog (e.g., Almost DailyBrett) is not for the meek and mild. My December 3 post about the recent strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTF) at the University of Oregon is a case in point. Fortunately, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation union (GTFF) finally caved in to the university and no further damage was done to the school’s 25,000 students and/or faculty.

If one is not willing to venture an opinion and take calculated chances, then why write a blog in the first place? Think of it this way: A blog is the most discretionary of all reads.

There is a huge difference between being provocative-controversial and being notorious. The first is responsible; the latter, irresponsible.

So what are the best ways to respond to online hecklers, yes even those who take issue with: “Your tactics here are a clear sign of your ignorance and privilege”?_MG_1292 (3)

 

Dem’s fighting words, but one must pick her-or-his battles.

Taking the High Road

The juvenile level of discourse you’ve displayed in these comments makes me embarrassed that you have a degree from my alma mater (e.g., M.A. from the University of Oregon).”

What are effective strategies when it comes to responding to the most determined of online hecklers?

  1. Avoid Writing Blogs When Upset and Frustrated in the First Place

There are times when you want to give someone or some organization a piece of your mind. That is not the time to write a blog. Your posts need to be thoughtful and based upon concrete facts to back your assertions. This is not to say that you cannot be provocative and controversial. Most blogs do not draw comments, generate Facebook “shares” and/or cause fur to fly. Every once in awhile this is indeed the case

  1. Never Engage in a Public Urination Contest

Learn how to be offensive without being OFFENSIVE. Dirty Harry (e.g., Clint Eastwood) always expressed his point of view (sometimes with his .44 Magnum), but most of the time he went just a tad too far. For a blogger you can respond to the heckler and parry back the verbal volleys, but you should never lose your cool and engage in a public urination battle. The results will not be pretty. There are times you want to engage the heckler, and there are others when you want to leave unanswered the charge/allegation. Your pride is not injured, if you allow the heckler to have the last word.Dirty Harry (1971)

 

  1. Pick and Choose Your Battles

The intent of the heckler is to bully, intimidate and silence dissent. Some are just not used to anyone standing up to them. We all have the First Amendment of Free Speech. A blogger has just as much right to compete in the Marketplace of Ideas as anyone else. If the heckler resorts to childish name calling, utters ugly slurs or demonstrates racist, sexist or other nasty behavior, it is best to NOT post that individual’s comments and to disengage.

  1. Allow the Heckler to Build Your SEO, Then Disengage

Keep in mind, the heckler is doing you the blogger a huge favor. The search engines (e.g., bots) take note of digital activity … the ones and zeroes of binary code … flowing to-and-from your blog URL. Every foray from the heckler can be met in kind with a witty and/or clever reply. For you this is a victory in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) arena. Let the invectives fly across cyberspace.

  1. Always Take the High Road

Turning the other cheek results in two throbbing cheeks even in the online space. Engaging the heckler to demonstrate that your dissent will not be silenced is noble, provided you are cool, calm and collected … and always take the high road. Remember: You wrote the blog. The heckler(s) is/are responding. As the instigator, you are the one driving the story.

  1. Don’t Lose Any Sleep

As a tadpole, you learned some variation of “sticks and stones will break my bones … “ These wise words still apply all of these decades later. Get a good night’s sleep. Maybe your next blog will draw even more hecklers.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2012/07/27/5-tips-for-dealing-with-hecklers-on-twitter/

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/03/09/how-to-deal-with-blog-hecklers/

 

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