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.