If you think corporate life is bad…

Elaine Liner, an adjunct professor who taught writing and ethics classes in SMU’s public relations department since 2001, blogs as the Phantom Professor and is one of the funniest writers I have come across in some time. Her characterizations of the clueless "Brads" and "Ashleys" at Southern Methodist University are absolutely classic.

Her poignant account of a student with a severe handicap and a mother in total denial made me see the Phantom Professor as more than a brilliant satirist, she is a compassionate professional in an increasingly untenable work environment.

As a lecturer at SMU, she was in a unique position to appreciate the irony of trying to teach "Strait A Students" whose allowance far exceeded her $18,000 teaching salary. Her self-deprecating humor is razor sharp as you can see from this recent visit to a 7-Eleven near campus.

Reading the mail she received from ignorant and manipulative losers brought back long suppressed memories of college classmates I came to despise. While writing this post, I was struck by the thought that these Brads and Ashleys go on to become the fashionable drones of the business world. In companies where appearance and political chicanery are keys to Executive Row, these obstacles to progress become management!

According to blogger Don Singleton,  Elaine’s blog entries finally caught up with her after some students and faculty members recognized themselves from their descriptions, even though no names were used. Her contract to teach will not be renewed.

Elaine also wrote two perceptive and hilarious theater reviews recently for the Dallas Observer. She has the knack for writing memorable copy. I think Elaine has a bright future if she can get over her crazy idea of a career at SMU.

I would buy any book she wrote in a heartbeat. Her blog needs work however, because she has no comments and no trackback. Now that she has been outed as a blogger, she needs to come out of stealth mode and use her blog to expand her horizons.

As Don Singleton wrote: $18,000 and no benefits is not much of a salary in Dallas. I suspect Liner can get a better job elsewhere.

She can do far better anywhere else. This separation from SMU may give her the impetus to reconsider her options and break out into an entirely new direction. I certainly wish her well and hope that she capitalizes on the free publicity she has gained to launch a new career.

Thanks to Tom McMahon for introducing me to Elaine Liner and her Phantom Professor weblog.

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0 Responses to If you think corporate life is bad…

  1. bulbul says:

    Hi David,
    I am not from U.S. But I know some U.S.A. culture, I know about the south of U.S.A. mostly from TV show stereotypes.

    I read your post very thoroughly and then went on to read the “Phantom Professor” blog, I also checked out the SMU web site.

    Here are my conclusions:
    1. The professor took a position that was not helping her self nor her students.
    She made fun of them instead of trying to have empathy for them.
    2. SMU appear like a college for rich kids. It’s probably a mediocre college. The lecturers are not really professors but phd that get paid by the hour. So the “professor” shouldn’t have attempted to play a “professor” that preserve tough standards but rather keep her job by filling the customer expectations and give them “good service”.
    3. The salary mentioned is too low. It’s strange why “phantom” would take such low pay.

  2. David – this is the funniest site I’ve read in a long time. All the things many want to say but never have the courage to do so. I agree, I’d buy a book by her too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Bulbul,

    I appreciate your taking time to comment, but you missed a few essential points if you did not read her earlier blog posts.

    She cares about her students and makes this very clear. Her humor was directed at the students who do not want to learn and are relying on their parents to coerce the teachers into giving them grades they do not deserve.

    She is an adjunct professor who is hired on a temporary basis. These professors do not get tenure and are paid a fraction of what regular staff members get. This strategy allows a university to keep costs down and limits the tenure opportunities to those who are socially connected and politically correct.

    Her qualifications and her integrity gave her students good service except for those who felt that good service was a diploma and failed to perform academically.

    I exchanged emails recently with Elaine. She writes for two publications in the Dallas area and became a lecturer by choice, not for the outstanding pay.

    She wrote: ” I’ve always made a living from my writing. The teaching wasn’t for money. I really liked teaching what I know about writing.”

    Her departure from SMU is some other university’s gain.

  4. bulbul says:

    I didn’t find an entire “Phantom” post about “Asleys”, but she mocks their life style as “wearing 500$ sandals and 1500$ hand bags…”. What she wrote about “Toms” is full of prejudice and dislike.

    A teacher is also a bit of a politician,
    and must know the art of diplomacy.

  5. OutOfContext says:

    Wax rhapsodic about her if you want. We in Dallas know her as a vitriolic beast. I don’t think she’s clever and I know her not to be honest.

    And yes this is anonymous as I’m one of her regular punching bags in the Dallas Theatre Scene.

    Get her hired in your city and get her the hell out of Dallas.


  6. Carolyn Channell says:

    Come on now, I am a English professor here at SMU and I also realize the strong affluence of all the students here, but you have to know who rules this world… and unfortunately it is those who we teach, the wealthy. I am just a hobo who is teaching the leaders of tomorro.
    TITLE: Carnival of the Vanities #151
    URL: http://genericconfusion.blogspot.com/2005/08/carnival-of-vanities-151.html
    BLOG NAME: Generic Confusion
    DATE: 08/10/2005 01:31:34 AM
    Carnival of the Vanities #151 is up at Generic Confusion!

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