Regarding David C. Levy’s March 25 Outlook commentary, “Do professors work enough?”:
Mr. Levy appears to have spent too much time at the top of the ivory tower to understand what happens in its basement. Community colleges such as Montgomery College and Northern Virginia Community College are teaching institutions, and what we do, we do with limited and diminishing resources.
The faculty at community colleges continues to subsidize higher education by working for compensation far lower than what our credentials would earn us in other fields. Many of our graduates receive starting salaries in excess of what we offer new instructors with doctorates. After more than 30 years in the classroom, with two master’s degrees, a doctorate and a full professorship, I was still earning more than $20,000 less than what Mr. Levy presented as the average salary of a full professor at a community college, and the majority of the faculty members in my division probably earn less than two-thirds of that amount.
The assumption held among the faculty of any community college is that everyone who wishes to pursue higher learning should be supported and encouraged at every step of the effort. We recognize that each student learns in a unique way, and we try to find ways to personalize the learning process. The supposition that someone teaching 15 credits each semester is not on the job 40 hours or more each week is baseless.
Jim McClellan, Alexandria
The writer is dean of liberal arts at the Alexandria campus of the Northern Virginia Community College.
I would try to think of something clever to say about how ignorant David C. Levy’s Outlook piece on college professors was, but I’m a tenured professor at a state university in Virginia, and I have to sit down and grade 100 papers this week, then work on commitments I have to several university committees and then finish a paper for a conference presentation next weekend, so my work schedule doesn’t permit the extravagance of responding to his nonsense. I’d rather take care of my students.
Shawn Smith, Midlothian, Va.