I must commend Jacob Neusner for his review of Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education (June 1989). I should like to note two important scams that Sykes does not address.
Sykes would have us believe that professors are, generally, extremely well paid and cites average salaries from prestigious institutions as evidence. But the fact is that only those faculties whose disciplines are allied with science and especially industry receive those high salaries, now pushing sometimes into six digits. The faculties of liberal arts and humanities do not generally receive anything near the emoluments commanded by their other colleagues, often receiving as little as one-fourth the salary of an engineer or a professor of business. Administrators claim that they are “compelled” by alleged “market forces” to discriminate in this manner.
Grade inflation continues to pollute the humanities, particularly in state institutions. It is driven from above by deans and chairmen who are more concerned with passing large numbers of students than with real learning, for the monies the universities receive from their legislatures are based on “formulas” of x dollars per head. This is especially true in the so-called “service” departments (usually English and foreign languages), where professors found failing large numbers of students will be denied raises and promotions no matter what their publication record may be, since large numbers of high grades are viewed as signs of “excellence” and “teaching effectiveness.”
—Edward A. Cowan Arlington, TX