Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nickels and Dimes

Hi, it's been awhile, I know.  Things have been WAY too miserable though, and I need to start getting this shit off my chest.  I'll start with something minor.  Our department hired a hamsterology assistant (HA), to help run our hamster labs.  The Dean's office is giving us crap now, trying to reduce our HA's salary because "the HA won't work during breaks."  All of this while the Dean's office takes off early during the summer.  Wonder what would happen if I suggested THEY have salary reductions for the summer?

Well, it's sunny out, and not too hot.  So I think I need to have one of these:


  1. That's like the place where I used to teach.

    Individual departments often had to make to with less money each year. We bit the bullet and did the best we could with what we were allocated.

    Mysteriously, though, the institutional administration office always seemed to have more than enough cash on hand for things like new carpeting and that sort of thing. At the same time, there were always enough funds available to build some sort of display or memorial for alumni, particularly rich ones who showered lots of dough on the place.

    Hard times, indeed.

  2. That blows. I'm sorry! Will they succeed in this reduction? I would point out that their office also closes early in summers if it helps your case.

  3. Nickels & dimes, indeed. If my guess at your field is in the right ballpark, I bet that the cost of one piece of equipment in these labs would fund summers for five HAs in perpetuity.

    I love sharing with my fellow humanists the sums of money that have been poured into building my spouse's lab. Eyes bug; jaws drop; chests are pounded. Quite the spectacle...until I explain how much of Spouse's typical work week involves begging the government for money to pay for it all, at which point the recriminations tend to abate.

    But it's still frustrating when the university, of its own accord, springs for something that's barely fancy -- like the giant flat-screen TV in the lobby of one science building -- as a gift to the scientists and/or engineers, then turns around and gives humanists hell for, say, requesting a working Blu-Ray player or a new projector to teach film classes.

  4. I think the fire was put out by explaining what the HA would be doing during breaks - pointing out that the folks in the Dean's office take off early in the summer would have been counterproductive (but it is fun to think about doing).

    It's generally frustrating that it always appears that budget savings are supposed to come from the academic side. It is much more difficult to maintain (much less increase) department budgets or staffing, renovate classrooms or laboratories, than it is to increase administrative staffing and renovate administrative spaces.

    1. Yes! We just got a new VP. ANOTHER ONE! While two faculty positions aren't being filled because we don't have any more money. So they say.

  5. A pregnant proffie at my Uni, having manage to conceive the perfect 'academic pregnancy' (i.e., due EXACTLY the 30-days-of-allowed-parental-leave-before-the-end-of-contract-year), and having arranged for a colleague to meet her 2 weeks of classes that she would likely miss, and having already written the final exam, and having made arrangements to get all of her grading done (as it happens, nursing baby in one arm, exams in the other), was told by her Chair:

    "Hey, maybe you should fill out the paperwork for unpaid leave-of-absence just in case you deliver early, cause, ya know, you only get the 30 days of leave"

    Proffie's response:

    "OK, I'll fill out the paperwork, and YOU will:

    1. Smile as I WALK AWAY, having made no arrangements for class coverage, final exam, and grade submission. (I'll be on LEAVE, remember?)

    2. Provide me with hard evidence that all of my colleagues are physically on campus (or on documented Uni business) from 8:30am to 4:30 pm EVERY FUCKING WORKING DAY up to and including the last day of the contract year."

    Chair, somewhat taken aback, immediately backed down. (Don't fuck with a near-term pregnant woman)

    The ONLY thing she missed was meeting 6 classes, and some office hours, while still completing all her email correspondence, grading, etc.

    She became something of a hero to a number of other female proffies in her gender-unbalanced (techie) college. As I recall, nearly half of the female proffies there gave birth within 18 months.


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