When I went to college, I was lucky enough to have really good professors. They were intelligent, professional, prepared, compassionate, and sincerely wanted me to better myself. Some I didn’t much care for, and to this date, I will gnash my teeth and growl when I hear their names, but all of them were integral towards my academic, professional, and personal development.
Thus, I find it completely unacceptable to learn about a professor that just doesn’t care. My sister has one of these, a man I’ll call “I.” I is the head of her department, the only teacher that teaches her specialty, and her advisor. He is also horrible. He routinely doesn’t show up for class, doesn’t let his students know he won’t be there, and doesn’t book substitutes. He’s delaying their critiques by about 2 months, ensuring that no one really cares about due dates. He’s making them do a piece a week, which isn’t enough time. He won’t let them choose their own subjects but makes them focus on “process” – which is what they did last year. He doesn’t stop students from spending their entire class time sitting on the couch and texting and will even allow students to bring in their dogs without comment. He spends most of class chatting with his group of favorites, making it difficult for anyone to work. Unsurprisingly, no seems to respect him, and my sister now hates that class – which is her major class (so this is a big problem).
There’s no reason for this behavior. It’s unprofessional, and it spits in the face of every other hard-working professor out there, many of whom are making extremely low wages, have to work on contract, are over-burdened with classes and extra duties, and who are publishing independent research on top of an already heavy load (in addition to micromanaging and unreasonable administrators, university bureaucracy, benefits arguments/lack thereof, and an over-reliance on student evaluations). Despite having an excellent TA record, excellent grades, an excellent publication and conference record, and an excellent alumna mater, hundreds (or even thousands) of professorial candidates can’t get decent teaching jobs and have to give up their dream to pay the bills – and then this fucker just gets to forget to teach his classes and spends class time chatting up the co-eds? It’s a disgrace.
Periodically, I try to see things from I’s perspective – maybe something is going on in his life, maybe he’s unhappy with his position, maybe he’s never been the head of a department before – but even if all of that is true, that doesn’t give him the right to completely waste 30 people’s college tuition. He has a responsibility towards his students to teach them, to help further their craft, to impart his experience, and to prepare them for their field outside of academia. And if he can’t do that? If he won’t do that? Then he needs to go, excuses be damned.