Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wilma from Waterville With a Big Nutty Thirsty.

Q: If you could gift your department anything, a new colleague,  new computers, a new mindset - truly anything - what would it be?


  1. Well gee, Santa, how about a strong economic recovery, a healthy state budget, a generous budget for our university, school, and department, and a new Provost who is a fair and effective leader without nonsensical, half-baked, trendy ideas about how to teach subjects he knows nothing whatsoever about? And how about our assessment V.P. being promoted to some other campus where she can't do any harm, and our Incompetent Dean of Students being replaced with a competent one? And while you're at it, how about smarter, better prepared students who act like responsible adults, world peace, and the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction?

  2. Frod is right, of course, but I'd settle for a brain transplant on our newest colleague, a ridiculous young man who is openly antagonistic to our students and who seems intent on driving away majors.

  3. I'd like Strel and the Beaker to sneak in and poison one of my colleagues. Make it look like a heart attack, please.

    And whirled peas would be good. With an Orange Julius.

  4. Oh, I'd give anything for a clean sweep of 2 offices on my floor, just take the deadwood, their stinky attitudes, and the two books they each published in the early 1980s. Sweep in two hip new chicks to teach their classes.

    Is this too much to ask, Santa Wilma?

  5. @Reg: I recommend your department Chair start a log on your newest colleague, to be used when tenure time rolls around.

  6. @Surly: According to the OED, since the 15th century. If you want to get worked up over it, you're a bit late to the party.

  7. Surly: Good for you focusing on the question.

    something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
    the act of giving.
    something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned: Those extra points he got in the game were a total gift.
    a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent: the gift of saying the right thing at the right time.

    verb (used with object)
    to present with as a gift; bestow gifts upon; endow with.
    to present (someone) with a gift: just the thing to gift the newlyweds.

  8. A conversion of all full-time non-tenure-track and most adjunct lines to tenure track lines, a la the article that Terry posted a few days ago, and what the AAUP has been urging for a year or two. The new positions would be 3/3 to allow for service and a bit of research, and additional time off would be available for good behavior (er, research productivity). This is actually what most of the positions at my institution looked like c. 2 decades ago, before the place became hellbent on becoming an R1, and started bringing in new TT faculty at 2/2 (and lots and lots of adjuncts and full-time non-tenure track folks to fill in the resulting gaps in core courses). We still have some faculty who choose to work on the old, 3/3, plan, and it's not a bad one at all: they do useful teaching and service, and publish at a pretty decent clip, too. Of course, we'd need much of what Froderick lists to bring this about, and possibly a new governor, legislature, and board of trustees as well.

    And while I'm at it, a partridge in a pear tree. We could use a bit more greenery around the place, and I like partridges -- the little tufts of feathers on top of their heads are cute.

  9. thanks for getting us back on the question, cassandra:

    The gift I'd like is a mandate that at my college students couldn't declare majors until the end of the sophomore year. Make a general ed program that really hit all the highlights of what we offer. Give them a taste of music and writing and science and psychology and art and poli sci and eco-science. Let them see what's out there, not just what Daddy wants them to be.

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  11. Raises and better health insurance. I'd be making 25k more almost anywhere else. And what we have is basically major medical, with huge deductibles and no dental or vision.

  12. Fudge my department - I'd like a goddamn interview followed by an offer of employment.

    But, I am willing to settle for a bottle of single-malt.

  13. I would like to double the size of our faculty and hire some awesome young people who would then call me a silverback and complain how I haven't published anything since 1980. But a new crop of faculty would dilute the assholery of the existing faculty, particularly the Society Matron, the Wilted Ivy, and the Cow.

  14. I would like a wall around my cubicle so every single person who walks by does not feel compelled to greet me, comment on local politics, ask me where so-and-so's office is, peer out my window and comment on the weather, or worst of all, force me to drop everything to discuss their stupid project which will "only take a minute" but never does. When exactly did the phrase "do you have a moment or when's a good time for you?" go out of fashion? If I try to tell them to come back later, I get the "will only take a moment" lie. I hate the drop-in. And lest you think I am asocial, I sit right near an exit, so it's highly-trafficked by both coworkers and random students. Since it's an exit only and not an entrance, people also pound on the door expecting me to get up and unlock the door to let them in. Because no one ever considers that it's not just *them* doing this, but 30-odd people a day expecting the very same concierge treatment. And if I'm on a tight deadline and some hotshot dean is waiting on my work, which he told me to make the utmost priority, then I can't exactly say, "sorry this is late, but a bunch of random helpless students, overfriendly coworkers, and intrusively demanding faculty interrupted me," because he'd just say, "I told you to make it a priority."

    It was a year ago today that my boss requested our facilities department move one of the cubicle dividers to shield me from passers-by. She has nagged them several times since, but her friend is the director of facilities so she's not going to put too much pressure on her. So let me amend my original plea to Santa: I wish that our facilities department would respond to this request before the end of 2012.

  15. I'd like to gift my overworked and stressed out CC department a lower teaching load - even 4/4 instead of 5/5 would be great, 3/3 if they teach all first-year comp.

  16. I change my request. I want to transfer my gift wish to Patty. I wish those goddamn facilities people would finally get off their FUCKING ASSES and move that cubicle divider for her. She needs that more than I need my colleague killed. It fucking pisses me off just thinking about being in her position. I hate shit like that.

  17. Well, thanks for the supportive message, Southern Bubba, but there's no need for such strong language. It is my Christmas wish, but I'm not as angry about it as you are (then again, I've had many years to come to terms with it). Visualize whirled peas - I'm with you on that Christmas wish.

  18. A truly mundane answer: a new copier.

    But seriously, ours has been crap since I started working here 6 years ago. The other place I used to adjunct has gotten not one, but TWO new (and functional) machines in that time, each more Jetson-y than what it replaced.

    This one won't copy sideways anymore. You have to use tray 1, because by the third sheet through tray 2, it gets hot and jams. And once it jams through tray 2, everything else jams until the machine has been turned off over night.

    It doesn't even fucking staple. Seriously, what is this, 1994?

    STAPLE? That's like sub-entry-level copy machine these days, isn't it?

    And you have to top load everything, because if you put something on the glass, it tries to copy through tray 2. So if you want to make handouts from books or charts or reference volumes, you have to go to the library and make an "original" anyway.

    The printer is not much better. It has 2 out of 3 trays going for it, and if you accidentally try to print through tray 1, at least all you have to do is clear the jam and switch to another tray. Other than that, it's almost as useless as the copier.

    If our print and copy options weren't so painful, my more interesting responses would be:

    $$ to turn our physics minor into a major

  19. Poor Wombat - unable to even copy a textbook, and no one sees any problem with this (chances are, the people who make budget decisions don't have to use that copier) It's the small things that really add to the College Misery, because we know they are easily fixed. Yes, we'd all like the big things like more money (or to not be treated like doormats), but those are lofty, ambitious goals. But Wombat could probably have a new copier *and* a new printer for less than a thousand bucks, which is a lot to me, but not much for a even a smaller university's budget. But of course, that copier will be there until its last gasp, no matter how tiresome it is or how much time is wasted wrangling with it... If I was the Christmas fairy reading this wish list, I'd put Wombat's at the top of the stack.

  20. How could they not know that Wombat is Wombat OF the Copier, and needs a suitably regal copier?!

  21. Tomorrow, the world would wake up and the Director of Hamster Brewing would have disappeared from the timeline and never have existed. Poof.

  22. For my department to have the six or seven TT lines it truly needs--so I could give them all to CM'ers

  23. I was going to ask for brain transplants, but then I realized that, no, it's spine transplants that are needed.

  24. @Curmudge and Frisky: Whoa, everybody be cool! I wasn't trying to be a dick, it was an honest question. I haven't heard it in common usage until very recently.

    Actually, I'd had my comment box open to offer an anser to the question, but the more I thought about it, the more vast and hopeless the whole issue seemed. So much. So much is needed to turn my college back into a college, and the problems extend so far beyond our walls that...well, it was easier to think about grammar.

  25. @Surly: until fairly recently, I've heard the word used that way mostly in church (and I have to admit I'm not overly fond of the usage, however time-tested, myself). Maybe it's spread from there? It also strikes me as advertising/PR language: trying to talk about a pre-existing thing in what sounds like a new and fancier sway. I'd guess that, like many slightly unusual usages, it may have been "invented" multiple times in multiple places, and may wax and wane in, and travel between, various subcultures.

    I, too, find myself especially outraged on Patty's and Wombat's behalves, because their requests (unlike, say, rolling back several decades of fundamental restructuring of employment) *should* be perfectly reasonable, and feasible (and yes, because Wombat obviously needs a wombat-worthy copier).

    Also, if Strel and the Beaker want to hunt down the creator of the cubicle (and anybody who genuinely thinks the things are a good idea) and do their worst, I wouldn't object. Maybe they could just round all the culprits up in Strel's van and imprison them in a cubicle farm somewhere for a month or so, then release them back into their original habitats, suitably reformed, a la A Christmas Carol.

  26. I have a list of colleagues who need to retire or seek employment elsewhere. My gift would be that they do so in order for us to avoid layoffs or involuntary transfers within our system for certain junior faculty members who are far more productive, collegial, and dedicated to education than those I want to leave.

  27. I'd ask the wizard for my department to get some Courage. They have Brains. They have hearts; they probably have too much heart, for that matter.

    But they need Courage. They are all too skittish and nervous that they might hurt someone's feelings or make somebody mad at them if the stick to their guns and enforce a rule.

    Courage for them. That's what I'd ask for.


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