“JFAB: it’s there to advocate for junior faculty…”


Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
IRWGS Director, 2014

Basically [the Junior Faculty Advisory Board, JFAB] is there to advocate for junior faculty directly to the administration, and create a sense of solidarity, or be a consulting board too—an advisory board for junior faculty and on behalf of junior faculty. I’m happy to say that its mission has changed partially due to the success of a lot of the initiatives. So we wanted a mentoring program, and it was implemented as of the fall. We wanted topping off of prestigious fellowships and grants, and we got that. It’s being implemented for the junior faculty, and even senior faculty, as of this fall [2015]. We wanted more research funds to be dedicated to junior faculty.

Housing and childcare are two banes of our existence. It’s funny, I was just on the phone yesterday with somebody who found out his wife is pregnant with twins, and they’re in a one-bedroom apartment. How does he get a larger apartment? People starting families, not having any place to do—some of them not having offices—this is a person also who doesn’t even have his own office: How are junior faculty expected to meet our expectations of them? These are things that have little to do with gender, but just have everything to do with seniority and the structure here. Sometimes they have to do with gender in other ways, especially given childcare and the burdens of childcare, or family care for elderly parents, and how often that falls on women, statistically. It’s, sadly, still a norm.

Junior faculty take on an incredible burden in terms of service. Their warm bodies are used in ways that often some senior faculty members’ aren’t, because they have the privilege of being able to opt out at times. We had already had this discussion as a committee before. Suddenly [one administrator] says, “Oh, well, maybe we should change Manhattanville to have more junior faculty housing then.” I said, “Yes. While you’re at it, get the infant care center at the ground floor.” I’m trying to get them [people in the provost’s office] to think in these broader terms that will actually—and, like the school district. Do you realize that the junior faculty might not want to move up there because of the school district, District Five, which is not the best of options for public schools? Now you’re putting the burden on them if they don’t want the public schools, then, to go into private schools. The private school tuition benefit that they provide hasn’t been updated since the ‘80s. It’s just a real financial disaster.