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April 23, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 29°F

News

The Faces of Austerity April 8

 

James Miranda, lecturer in the Department of Writing. Courtesy of James Miranda

Lecturer Questions Labor Equity at IC

James Miranda, lecturer in the Department of Writing, is 39 and has taught at Ithaca College for four years. He has a Ph.D. in English from Ohio University in a combination of rhetoric, composition, creative writing and literary studies. He wrote a critical dissertation on con men in literature.

 He has published fiction and worked as a literary editor for a variety of journals. He is a regular presenter at national Associated Writing Program conferences.

While teaching multiple courses at the college and at SUNY Cortland and co-raising two small children, he had taken on a wide array of other roles. He is chair of the Contingent Faculty Union. He was the Contingent Faculty Representative on the Faculty Development Committee of the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) and worked with the CFE’s Anti-Racism Institute. Miranda also sat on the Steering Committee for Academic Writing in the writing department, served on the Strategic Plan’s Campus Climate Group and taught an Ithaca Seminar called “Weaving Sound: The Intersection of Writing and Music.” He has been a judge for the annual writing contest and teaches a magazine writing course every summer in the Ithaca Young Writers Institute, a program for high schoolers which for some is a segue into enrolling at the college.

Most recently, incited by the Academic Program Prioritization process, he joined the Executive Committee for the college’s recently started American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter as a member-at-large.

He said the courses he teaches at SUNY Cortland do not pay very much, and that part of his salary mostly went toward childcare. Now, it will be his primary source of income.

Miranda’s wife, Lauren Goldberg, is executive director for Hillel at Ithaca College, which ties the family to the Ithaca area. He loves fishing with his daughter, which he said is “a pandemic-friendly activity.” He said fishing also allows him to be “in a place where even outside the college [he] can talk about the world of reading, writing and ideas.”

“I’ll miss my students and colleagues here,” he said. “So much of this school is being cast away without considering the ripple effects.”

He said he wants to work to make higher education more equitable.

“As union chair, I’m saddened that a union that was just recognized in 2017 is being so clearly decimated by this administration,” Miranda said. “I’m sorry that they seem to see ‘diversity, equity, inclusion’ initiatives to be mutually exclusive of labor equity issues.”

 

Paul Hansom, assistant professor in the Department of English. Ash Bailot/The Ithacan

A Kafkaesque Experience

Paul Hansom, assistant professor in the Department of English, is the self-described “only Brit in the English department.” He taught full-time as a non-tenure eligible (NTEN) at Ithaca College for ten years on the heels of several one-year appointments.

Hansom, 54, came to the United States in 1989 to obtain a Ph.D. in English at the University of Southern California (USC). He also has a Masters in American Studies from the University of Nottingham in the U.K. and an MFA in fiction and drama from USC. “I’m wickedly qualified,” he grinned.

He moved to Ithaca in 2005 as a trailing spouse — his wife now has tenure in the Department of English at the college. Hansom became a U.S. citizen in 2020, though without any sentimental attachment to the act.

“I was looking forward to Social Security,” he said.

He has been an arts writer at the Ithaca Times, a DJ at the Cayuga Radio Network and a narrator of audiobooks. Trained as an actor in Los Angeles, he worked for the Ithaca Shakespeare Company and has starred in many student films — frequently in demand “due to my British accent,” he said.

Hansom has published four books and other articles on cultural theory and literary modernism. He has taught courses about American literature, science fiction, environmental literature and contemporary American and European drama. He said he is “devoted to interdisciplinarity.”

He has a 13-year-old daughter who bears the stressors of impending parental unemployment. 

“Luckily, because of my wife, we’re not thrust into being a no-income family,” he said.

With one final year of his contract to work through, Hansom called his situation, “a slow-motion redundancy, increasingly depressing as I move through time, leaving me occasionally bewildered about how to think about what my next step will be. I’m very angry at being booted out, but I’m also numb. It comes in waves. At times, it can be paralyzing.”

One of the things he will miss the most is the vibrant intellectual culture and the “camaraderie and kindness” he has found among his colleagues. He said he loved the daily “popping in and out of each other’s office to shoot the breeze and recommend books.”

Anticipating the loss of that community and of his highly-valued relationships with his students “feels like a slow-motion guillotine,” he said. “It’s like something out of a Kafka novel.”

 

This series aims to put human faces on the faculty members who have been notified of their termination as a result of the Academic Program Prioritization process. Faculty members interested in sharing their stories can reach out to Harriet Malinowitz, lecturer in the Department of Writing, at hmalinowitz@ithaca.edu.