On not being reappointed: A farewell message to my university department at City College of New York

Some weeks ago, I was informed by my department at City College of New York, that I would not be reappointed to teach my Introduction to Journalism class. Today I had the opportunity to address a "farewell" all of my fellow faculty and staff members. Here it is below:

It has been a great pleasure and honor for me this past academic year to teach Introduction to Journalism and work with [dept chair Jerry [Carlson] and acting journalism program director Barbara Nevins Taylor.

I hope you don't mind my saying a few parting words, as I have not been reappointed to teach again in the fall due to projected budget and enrollment cutbacks (although the enrollment is not at all sure at this point.)

This is despite my receiving the highest course evaluations last semester than in my entire teaching career (a career which spans Boston University and New York University, where I taught before coming to City.)

PSC-CUNY, and its president Barbara Bowen, are on record opposing any and all layoffs of adjunct faculty and other staff. Although the pandemic provides a "good excuse" to the CUNY administration and to Albany to make life for our working class students even more difficult than it already is, I want to make a plea to all of you to not let this happen without a fight--a serious fight.

Over the past academic year I have attended most of the MCA department meetings, which was easy for me to do since my Thursday class down the hall ended just before they began. I have been witness to the frustration of the full-time faculty that few to none of our reasonable requests were being addressed seriously by the administration, long before this pandemic became yet one more rationale for ignoring or refusing them.

Now, more than ever, the fate and working conditions of full-time and part-time faculty, along with students and staff, are bound up together. That means the conditions are better than ever for a common fight against cutbacks and layoffs. We are already in a situation where working class students get a raw deal while private universities with huge endowments and the pick of the relatively well off students sail on merrily; and those universities will no doubt survive this crisis relatively intact.

To tell our working class students that they must bear the brunt of yet another wave of cutbacks is unconscionable. We have too easily accepted the "there's no money" excuses we are handed every academic year, while tax rates for millionaires and billionaires are ever more generous, and Albany seems to find money for the projects it deems of highest priority to politicians and their donors.

Can we not, for once, just take this lying down? If you are not a member of the union, please join, and push its leadership to be as militant as possible in opposing cutbacks. Don't tell students, oh, there's nothing you can do about it, because that would be a betrayal of young men and women who have made great sacrifices to get the education I know we all want to give them. And, quite frankly, it is not true. There is plenty we could do about if we had the will and the determination to fight not just for our own jobs and working conditions, but for the students whose welfare and future is our chosen mission.

With best wishes to all,

Stay safe and well,


cc. Pam Stemberg [PSC-CUNY campus chair]

Michael Balter
Writer/reporter (anthropology, #MeToo, mental health, environment)
Adjunct Lecturer (Journalism),
   City College of New York
Paris correspondent, Science 1991-2016
Adjunct Professor of Journalism "emeritus,"
   New York University and Boston University

"Lying is done with words and also with silence." --Adrienne Rich

Post a Comment


Unknown said…
a group of us from the faculty and staff at CUNY have organized a group called Rand and File Action. We are growing and we would like to invite interested people who believe in fighting against the status quo, to join us at our Town Hall meeting on Friday ,May 15 from 5-7. Plese check the link for information. We cannot afford to wait any longer.

Teresa Mettela said…
Wow I'm super sad right now. I really loved your class and it makes me upset that other students won't benefit from your teaching :( -teresa mettela