Monday, July 19, 2010

Performance-linked budget

Hey, I could start a regular column, "Dean Suzy's Day" and maybe be as good as Beaker Ben or Midcareer Mike (or did we lose him?) some day!

Dean Suzy's day began with an unsuccessful attempt to get the computing center guys to explain how it happened that the learning management system was offline for 13 hours over the weekend if they guarantee 24/7 uptime. Everyone's on vacation, but apparently the janitor knew enough to reboot the machine.

Professor M congratulated her in the lunch line on her election and mentioned that his pet project for making porcupines pettable will be needing additional cash soon. Oh really, how fascinating!

Then she headed to the bowels of the finance department in the hopes of getting some enlightenment. The proposed budget for 2011 shows that although we met our enrollment targets at 101% and have an enormous research money intake, we will be getting 1.5% more money. We've even increased enrollment targets for 2011 by 7%. The slacker faculty, however, that has only 75% enrollment target achievement and zero research, gets to break even, and the snowflake faculty with 82% enrollment and a grubby little bit of research money is getting a 13% increase in funding!!!!

It's really easy, it turns out. This is the new performance-linked budget with magic cookie numbers. Since we can't let the precious slackers have less money than before, we have to adjust the numbers so that our finite budget works out. And the snowflakes are so similar to the slackers that they have to have the same magic number. The only way for this to work is for my faculty and the faculty of the we-publish-a-lots to not be given any extra money for reaching or exceeding our targets.

Now that I understand the scam, what I don't understand is a) why this is called a performance-linked budget if we get punished for performing well and b) what they were smoking when they came up with this and c) did they think I would smile and agree to this?


  1. 24/7: twenty four days a month, 7 hours a day

    According to your numbers, it appears that your college is doing just fine, very well actually, with its current budget. Who knows how extra money might screw things up.

  2. Well, boo. It's easy enough to have your grad students or postdocs write up the lab research they do under your auspices and slap your name on it 15 times a year, but I'm willing to bet your "slacker" and "snowflake" faculty are in the Humanities, where our work is self-researched, self-authored and almost completely unfunded. 1.5% of what? 13% of what? A 13% increase in my research funding would be $130/year, enough to buy 2 printer toners (and yes, office supplies come out of my research $$). Give us some hard numbers and I'll maybe listen to the complaining.

  3. Ease up, Marcia. You're the one saying that the slackers are in the humanities, not Suzy.

    Do you think that it's easy to get grad students to write publishable manuscripts? We all know how well they learned to write as undergrads. And that's just the minority of grad students from the US who were raised to speak English.

  4. "Dean Suzy's Day" does have a nice ring to it.
    N.B. Both "24/7 uptime" on ANYTHING computer related and cake are lies.

  5. So sayeth the guy in the sciences, eh, Ben? Where most research does indeed have 4+ authors, no?

    This is one time I wish an author would have been a bit more specific about who is (not) doing what.

    The way some of this reads, she's a dean of admissions and is whining that because she's wrangled a whole new onslaught of snowflakes the front-line faculty should give her division the big bucks just for doing what it's supposed to do.

    But then I presumed she was being too vague just to cover her bottom, which is wise because the Marcias of her school would gather a protest outside her office and demand more than just new curtains!

  6. Oh, dear. I don't even have curtains, just spiderwebs. And I haven't occupied a building since the mid-1980s. But we got enrollment numbers and productivity shoved down our throats by the scientists in precisely these terms, so yeah, I'm cranky. Rrrrreallll cranky. All y'all are angels, but I'm not fond of Deanspeak.

  7. Marcia, maybe Charlotte will write "Some Prof" over your desk and attract the press to your school!

    Woohoo! They'd find you "terrific" and "humble" and "crunchy"!

    Maybe they'd give you a raise and some new slop everyday for lunch!

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