Bioethics Blogs

Dear Professional Organizations…It’s Not Me, It’s You

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Dear Professional Organizations,

Being an active member of my profession is important for both my personal mission and my professional career. I enjoy coming to your meetings and finding myself among those who speak my scholarly language. At such gatherings I learn about new ideas, network with current, former and potentially new collaborators, and sometimes (when looking) find out about new opportunities for jobs, funding, and publishing. And yes, my university expects me to attend these events in order to share my work, to network, and to help with increasing the visibility and reputation of the institution.

But now, I have to think about breaking up with you. Year after year you increase what you charge for dues and registration. Over that same time, the amount of money my university makes available for travel and membership dues decreases, or in the best years remains flat. This institutional support covers about two-thirds of the costs of attending one conference. Such support is for the 30% of us who are full time faculty. Nearly 70% of the academic workforce is composed of contingent faculty members who receive no institutional support toward membership dues and meetings.

The difference between the cost of meetings and what my institution provides comes out of my pocket and that is not always tax deductible. Also consider that the average faculty salary has not increased by much in decades. The AAUP reported an average 2.2% increase this past year, but those salaries are lower than in the world outside of the academy, and the majority of those increases went to the burgeoning ranks of administrators, not to the diminishing teaching/research class.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.