Tuesday, May 31, 2011

EMH lays his down for a desperate silverback

This morning, Tuesday May 31...
6:00am:  My cat wakes me up to inform me that there is a fly in her water bowl.  She has no problem swatting flys and then eating them.  However, seeing one in her water bowl kind of freaked her out for some reason.

6:15am:  Sitting up on bed.

        Computer!  One iced ractagino and two toasted english muffins spread with butter and      blackberry jam.  Also, feline supplement 24.

8:30am:  Computer console beeps. 

      Incoming Message!
      EMH, we are taking away your only summer class.  One of our silverbacks just lost all of his classes due to under-enrollment.  He is, therefore, taking yours.  Have a good summer.  We look forward to seeing you in the fall!

8:40am:  Computer!  One 32oz very strong 211 beer.
                Computer!  Alter EMH clothing to that of character Hawkeye from tv-show MASH.


  1. Sorry.

    The whole "summer teaching cash cow" thing drives me nuts. Everywhere I've taught, summer and evening classes are run like a little fiefdom by independent deanlings who know they're never getting promoted ever again. It explains a lot.

    And the whole "throw the adjunct overboard" thing, too. That's rotten.

  2. Guh. That sucks. And is patently unfair. :(

  3. Totally unfair.

    Abroad programs: also a fiefdom.

  4. Anyone else remember hearing their faculty mentors regale them with tales of all those summer classes they taught because their own profs didn't want them?

    It's really fucking sad when you actually consider working under your C-student, the manager at Starbuck's, just to make ends meet over the summer.

  5. EMH,

    that really sucks.

    The same thing happened to a friend up here. He had a tenure-track job at a CC which ran out of money and had to cut some classes thanks to massive financial screwups at the administrative level. His classes were the only ones in the department enrolling well (he got phenomenal teaching ratings). So they cut the poorly-enrolling classes, which were all taught by tenured silverbacks, and then assigned his classes to the silverbacks.

    But they left his name ON the classes as long as possible so that people wouldn't realise he wasn't going to be teaching them, and un-enroll.

    Then they told him he was laid off "until things improved". And then US Immigration told him that now that he wasn't employed his work visa was no longer valid, and since his green card (which had been in the works for ages) had not yet come through he was now an illegal and had a week to get the hell out of Dodge.

  6. Does this mean you'll have to survive on cat supplements this summer?

  7. EMH, I'm very sorry. I'm not that particular silverback, but I did have ½ of a very good adjunct's load assigned to me (over my protests) because of low enrollment in my own courses. My gen-ed courses are doing well; it's my follow-on course for majors that's low this year. The one where I only get the folks who can make it through lower-level courses.

  8. So, I am thinking of replying to the Dean with something along the lines of "This is going to make it difficult for me to return in the fall, as I am now forced to move back to California and live in my parents' garage."
    You know what? When they hired me, they jumped at me. The Dean told me that they don't usually see anyone with a Master's in Mathematics come their way very often. Now, I feel like a cheap rug.

  9. I'm so sorry, EMH. I've never experienced the silverback course-grab (at least I don't think so; I may have just been too naive to know), but my second semester of adjunct teaching, I returned to the state college where I'd been teaching 3 sections for a late-January beginning-of-semester meeting, only to learn that I now had 1 section (apparently their experimental approach to the Western Civ survey hadn't gone over so well with the students, who had voted with their feet in droves). They'd known since December, but nobody had thought to tell me. I burst into tears, which was embarrassing at the time, but, in retrospect, was a perfectly reasonable response to the situation. What kind of employer behaves this way, and still expects to have employees?

    P.S. I did have a good experience, some years later, with telling a chair that I simply couldn't afford to move from 4 courses at a full-time salary of $28,000 plus benefits to 3 at adjunct wages of c. $15,000 (assuming I got the full 3 again in the spring semester) with no benefits. He called me back in a month when another full-time line opened up. But that was an uncommonly decent chair.

    Still, if you have no reason to hang around where you are for the summer, hoping that there will, indeed, be work for the fall, I wouldn't. As someone who can teach in a STEM-related field,and who has mathematical skills, period, you do have more options than those of us in the humanities. Don't quit simply to stick it to your present department, but don't offer them any more loyalty than they've offered you. At the very least, keep your eyes open for other opportunities, and feel free to take one (especially a full-time, full-year one) if it comes along. This is the time of year when ads for full-time non-TT jobs often appear, and you owe your present employer precisely nothing. You have fulfilled your contract with them, and, even if you have a contract with them for the fall, I'm sure it's full of the sort of escape clauses they just exercised. You have your own escape clause, which is to accept another job and inform them of the fact. If you can do that, do.

  10. Damn, EMH, that sucks, and I'm sorry your summer is now off to a lousy start.

    I've had that happen too, where I was told I'd get two sections, and two weeks before the semester is to begin, I'm staring into the abyss of unemployment for at least the next four months. No apology, not even a little hand-wringing that might suggest a modicum of humanity on the university side.

    Later, they wanted me for a couple other courses, and just assumed I'd fall all over myself for the pleasure of teaching for them, they put me on the schedule (no contract though) and the courses filled up. But, I had moved on. I got a real job elsewhere. So I had the deliciously wonderful pleasure of jamming out on them, with exactly the same amount of notice they gave me. The chair was pissed. Of course, there was a dozen others who could take my place, but for a day, I had the upper hand and they were put out, how ever temporarily. Some bridges are meant to be burned, (but only if you're secure enough elsewhere to burn them.)

  11. At least they told you in advance. I have had the unfortunate experience of starting a brand new class for five minutes, when the silverback came in and said, "Didn't anyone tell you that I bumped you for this class?" Needless to say, I had to pack up my materials and leave the class to him. Such is the life of an adjunct. I am no longer an adjunct, and I have yet to bump someone from their class.

  12. I'm a lowly assistant whose over-enrolled summer course compensates for the under-enrolled ones taught by the silverbacks. The thanks I get? This year, booted from a class due to under-enrollment yet still teaching the one over-enrolled by 30 students ... so that it covers the arses of the silverbacks' under-enrolled classes. They all are loaded 2 classes with low enrollments, and I get one with high enrollment. Bastards!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.