On December 15, Jamie Williamson learned that the coming spring semester, the 30th of his career on the English department faculty at the University of Vermont, would be his last. Fifteen years ago, Williamson, now 61, achieved the rank of senior lecturer, a title that generally confers the aura, if not the promise, of job security. His annual salary, just shy of $60,000, is on the upper end of nontenured faculty earnings.
By his own calculations, Williamson has taught somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 students. His online reviews suggest that he is a generous, rigorous, endearingly disheveled instructor with a loyal fan base. “Professor Williamson looks like something of a cross between the stereotypical mad scientist and a tousled but kind hobo, and his personality and teaching style somewhat matches the former,” one student review reads.