First they said, "You don't need good salaries, do you? You don't mind making less than a high school teacher, right?" and we said, "Low salaries--no problem."
Then they said, "Tenure just encourages deadwood. You don't need tenure, right?" and we said, "No, we trust you to give us a fair salary and decent health benefits, because that's how capitalism works: ethical standards of compensation for all!"
And now, at the Chronicle: "You don't need offices, do you? How about a big cart so you can lug your stuff around and sit in a lounge, Starbucks-style?"
Say a department provided a spacious, well appointed, comfortable, very exclusive commons area for its faculty members—something like a library's reading room, maybe, with library tables that professors could spread their work out over, conference rooms in which to meet students or make phone calls, club chairs and sofas for relaxing, reading, and conversing, maybe even a patio or garden. Each faculty member would have a big lockable storage space, or perhaps a rolling cart for books and papers, and could plug in a laptop anywhere in the commons on any given day. (Some companies have taken similar approaches.)Ah, the ever-popular two-tier system, where whoever can be the most unpleasant gets the goodies and the most accommodating gets the rolling cart. Or, better still: charge us for the space necessary to meet with weeping students and conduct time-intensive advising appointments--that's the ticket!
I'm sure there are faculty members who would hate such an arrangement. So maybe a two-tier system would be in order—a professor could have a private office if he or she thought it necessary, but those who agreed to use the shared space might get a little supplement in their paychecks each month, or get better parking or maybe a free faculty-club membership.
I think I'm going to go ahead and call Lumberg out on this one. If he takes my red stapler, he's toast.
Edited to add: With all the anti-tenure articles and the rest, I'm starting to think that the Chronicle hates professors. It's getting to be like Dean Dad over there about how tenure is destroying the university and the old fogies are destroying it by not using technology. Just saying.