March 31, 2012, 2:41 pm
Those folks who are long time readers know that I cannot limit my blog to matters of administrivia and academe all of the time. Sometimes, the real world calls out for discussion, and I simply have to respond. This is one of those times.
I have been following the story of Trayvon Martin with a sense of despair and anger that makes it difficult to concentrate on other issues. As the anchor says in the ABC news coverage, the story focuses on a black 17-year old boy who was shot to death in “a gated community where his father lives.” The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year old white (or Hispanic) man who was the self-appointed captain of the neighborhood watch. Martin was returning from the store with a pack of skittles and an iced tea, whereupon he was profiled as “up to no good, on…
March 5, 2012, 3:14 am
I have been a faculty member and an administrator on several campuses, and each one has its own versions of the “information broker.” These brokers are the people in the know, the ones who are privy to upcoming decisions before anyone else. They usually have a position that puts them into contact with people from across the university, and they have built relationships that sustain the information gathering process. Some brokers are administrative types, some are longtime faculty, and some are support staff. Some brokers pick up information haphazardly, through their many professional and personal relationships, while others are more purposive in their pursuit of inside information. The best information brokers know the institutional history and can help put the current trials and tribulations into perspective. The worst hoard information as a way to amass power, gossip with friends…
February 26, 2012, 3:17 pm
One of the biggest challenges facing any administrator is making the hard calls. Some big decisions can be managed by the faculty, such as curriculum changes, but others reside solely with the person in the administrative role. I originally thought going into this role that these decisions would come along sparingly. Instead, I have found that challenging decisions occur often! They are required throughout the different spheres of academic life: tenure and promotion approvals, hiring and firing decisions, student academic (or non-academic) reviews, budget allocation, personnel management, etc.
The advice books for department chairs, deans, and other administrators all say the same kind of thing about making hard calls… Always base your decision making framework on the following:
- the good of the unit,
- the mission of the unit and the larger university,
- the long-term…
January 12, 2012, 11:52 pm
When I was a faculty member, I had no real set schedule other than classes and occasional office hours. (Yeah, I was one of those “office hours by appointment” kind of girls.) I usually worked at home 2-3 days a week, and I worked at night and on the weekend as needed. During the work week, I also sometimes watched “Primetime in the daytime” on TV, went to afternoon movies, had lunch with the gf, and took trips out of town. I worked a lot, producing articles, presentations, class preparations, committee work, etc., but all of that got done around my own schedule. The girlfriend was used to this work style, as she had grown accustomed to it during my grad school years.
In my first faculty/admin job, I spent more time in the office, usually 3-4 days a week, but I didn’t keep 9-5 kind of hours. I would get in between 10-11 and often left by 3 or so. I also felt free to work at home as…
December 29, 2011, 10:08 pm
I always love to check out the “Top 10 news stories/movies/songs/sports disasters/etc. of 2011″ stories when they hit the national news at this time of year. So, in the same spirit, I give you my top 10 news stories related to LGBT issues in higher education.
1. No professional homophobia allowed. One of the most exciting stories to me, as I am a court geek and a professor in a professional discipline, is the decision by a federal Court of Appeals in Georgia (of all places) that affirmed the right of a professional field to require students to practice competently with LGBT populations. Students in professional fields (in this case, counseling) cannot claim a religious exemption from working with queers. So, if you say, “Oh, I can’t work with gay people without proselytizing, trying to fix or save them, or being hateful,” guess what? You don’t get the counseling/nursing/medical/social…
December 18, 2011, 11:06 pm
Emily Post, that is. Because when it comes to the holiday traditions, I am clueless. Even though I am a Jew, I know the holidays are a time with a LOT of traditions: decorating, parties, gift-giving, food preparation, card-sending, etc. I have never been especially good at planning or executing any of this in my personal life, so the holiday challenges facing me in my professional life are formidable. Add to this the new perspective of being the administrator of a unit, and I have a minor crisis of confidence on my hands, as I face a bunch of questions about what is appropriate.
>>Where do I stand on holiday decorations in the office? Can I draw a line at something openly religious, require inclusiveness in public spaces, or just let people do as they will and know most of the faculty and students are gone anyway?
>>Should we have a holiday gathering for our unit or not? If so, …
December 16, 2011, 4:12 pm
I have tried to write this blog entry at least three times. One problem is that my first version was waaaayyy too revealing about personal stuff going on in my life. While I used to do that in my original blog, which I used to process feelings and challenges as I was trying to get pregnant during my first administrative job, I eliminated the old personal stuff when I flipped to the Chronicle blog and I have avoided anything that would be personally or professionally problematic for me if I decided to stop blogging under the pseudonym. So, with that filter on my personal and professional lives, I can’t seem to figure out one focus for a blog entry. Rather than letting another week slip by, then, I am posting a gathering of random thoughts.
- Why does every school that is interviewing faculty in the Midwest, deep South, the rural North, and Southeast refer to itself as in “the buckle of …
December 4, 2011, 10:01 pm
We professors take our classes seriously. We want students to do the reading, to come to class prepared, to engage with the texts and the problems we set before them, and to rise to the challenge of thinking critically and learning. When students fail to meet these expectations, professors often become frustrated, angry, and sometimes even hurt by what we can perceive as our students’ disregard. We may blame the students, castigate them as lazy or lacking commitment, and even rebuke the students. I have felt this myself. Every once in a while, I get to feeling grumpy because a student has written an annoying email, said something disrespectful, or blown off class for the third time with a lame excuse.
When that happens, I remind myself that students have complicated lives. The little slice of their lives I see in my classes fails to reveal most of what is going on for the student…
November 17, 2011, 8:25 am
I was joking with academic friends a few nights ago about another friend who is something of a shameless self-promoter. When something good happens in his life, like an award or grant, he begins a round of promotion of this achievement that begins on his Facebook page and doesn’t stop until everyone has acknowledged it: the local newspaper, organizations of which he is a member, his blog, friends’ blogs and FB pages, the university newspaper and media center (including website), etc. If he hasn’t received appropriate acknowledgement, he might send it again. They laughed that he recently skipped an award ceremony because not enough people were going to see him accept the award.
I understand the criticism. No one wants to be around a person who is just interested in their own lives. There is something in academe, though, that requires a good bit of self-promotion. It starts when you…
November 4, 2011, 5:47 pm
It is hiring time again, and I am right in the thick of it. I am on one external search committee (senior hire), we are hiring in our department, and I am serving as a reference for several colleagues. All of this has me thinking about the concept of the “fit” between a department and a candidate/new hire.
Back in July, ProfHacker did a post asking people to define “fit.” One thing was clear: the concept of fit was nebulous. Some people used it to discuss whether a new hire fit with the established department, whereas others discussed which potential institution would be the best fit from the perspective of someone on the market. Others discussed fit as the balance between the two perspectives. Many commenters discussed how a department’s concept of a new hire as a poor fit was (a) the product of small departmental minds and (b) another way to discuss a lack of collegiality, perhaps…