Features

View from the other side of the desk


David Lapakko, Dept. of Communication Studies, Film, and New Media


News flash: according to a cover story this month in “Time” magazine, if you want to get rich, don’t go into teaching.

The “Time” story was on K-12 educators, but salaries in most of higher education are modest as well. On the other hand, my son is a 32-year-old computer science major who works as a software developer. His salary surpassed mine very quickly. And in his first three years in that field, his employer took the whole office on all-expense-paid trips to Las Vegas (twice), Cancun and Jamaica. (I think they call that “team-building.”) In the meantime, Augsburg commemorated both my 25- and 30-year service anniversaries with (wait for it) a beautiful ballpoint pen.

So, under the circumstances, why do professors remain professors?  We are drawn to the feel of college campuses. We enjoy the people with whom we work and the type of work that we do. At the tenure level, we have pretty much unparalleled job security. We like the flexibility in scheduling. And, oh yes, no trips to Jamaica, but there are some nice chocolate chip cookies at some of our committee meetings — sometimes even macadamia nut or chocolate chunk! We also like to think, even if we’re kidding ourselves at times, that we can make a difference in people’s lives.

There’s no need to cry crocodile tears for college professors or to start a GoFundMe site for them. But just be aware that most of us didn’t go into this for the money.

This article first appeared in the Friday, September 28 edition of The Echo.

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