I love this site, as you all do, a place to lovingly gather to vent over the idiocies and injustices we encounter while we attempt do to good in the world (see, very heroic!). Yet there are those who stand in the way, often adminflakes and dastardly colleagues.
Q: So, here is what baffles me: why is this so? How do adminiflakes, many of whom come from the ranks of faculty, turn into vicious vipers? Insights, anyone?
Now that they are on the admin side, our former colleagues get to peek inside the accounting ledger. It is not pretty. Sure, there's enough money to fund the administrative retreat, their office assistance and the redecorating of the president's complex but after that, things get tight.ReplyDelete
There is room for advancement in the administration so people jockey for position. Screwing somebody else over usually results in you getting more. The structure of an academic department is pretty flat. You do your job well and they might change your title and if you are really unlucky, you get to be department heat. Other than that, there's no advancement so there's no reason to play those games (unless you're just an asshole).
We have to look at the different reasons why academics become adminiflakes. In the brains of many of us there lives a little alien larva, just waiting for the right moment to take over the organism. There are different types of trigger:ReplyDelete
a) the mediocre scholar, who never did much in their discipline, and can just imagine a long future of lonely obscurity. Join the ranks and ta-dah! instant power and respect from colleagues who used to ignore you. Now you can get back at them. (That's my provost.)
b) The respected researcher who suddenly realizes he/she hasn't saved enough for retirement. OMG, I'm past sixty and I was never paid at the level of my competence, and now it's too late. Enough with this research nonsense, I need to make some serious money while I can. (That's my dean.)
c) The closet zealot. There's something seriously wrong with the world, and they're the one "chosen" to fix it. Whatever their private hobbyhorse is, now they can do something about it, the faculty and the bylaws be damned. They know better than people with twice the experience, or three times the publication list. (That's my dept chair.)
Whatever the original reason, they soon become absorbed into the self-congratulatory adminiflake culture, sustained through countless PP-enabled "retreats" where "values" are shared and learned. Pretty soon they learn whose ass to kiss and which words to use to get ahead in that world, and the concerns and values of scholars become a distant, irrelevant memory. And then all we can only hope for is that they're hired up and out, and vanish from our sight.
Don't forget the ambitious buttweasel. This type of adminiflake has always just wanted to be in charge, for no particular reason other than to Be In Charge. They're easily recognizable by their tendency to dress like their immediate superiors.Delete
Dr. M, I nearly shot coffee out of my nose! Spot.On. We have an ambitious buttweasel here and buttweasel is amazingily apt. Thanks!Delete
Fortunately, our buttweasel got hired away to a more lucrative/prestigious gig somewhere else. We're still cleaning up.Delete
most of our administrators are not from the faculty at all, they have degrees in "college administration" or "educational leadership" others come from business or even hospital administration. In the last couple of reorganizations of the college the admins were very careful to remove every "academic" from the pool of deans. This of course makes it difficult for these folks to understand or advocate for anything faculty need because they have never been faculty, never gone through tenure.ReplyDelete
Gore Vidal was a fool in so many ways, but he could turn a phrase: "Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."
I think they just start believing the things they say.ReplyDelete
It's the money. Finally, for the first time in their life, they can actually own things and pay the bills. It feels good. So they do what they think they have to do to keep the job. There is plenty of empirical evidence that being a douchebag advanced a person in administration, so they do that. Sofas, my friends, are very, very seductive.ReplyDelete
I would do nearly anything to get a new seductive sofa.Delete
Don't you dream of furniture? As in NEW furniture from a furniture store, not hand-me-downs or things that you garbage pick? And maybe a computer that isn't 10 years old?Delete
YES!!! I have a second-hand futon (as in the last renters left it here when we moved in). I want NEW NEW furniture that I can scuff up myself instead of wondering about the mystery stain on the side... And maybe my own computer (I have a laptop my dept. bought for me that I cart back and forth). I did, finally, buy my first new car ever (because Honda had 1.9% APR loans) a few years ago. It's so small I could probably park it in the living room and use it as a sofa. :)Delete
There are a lot of prof flakes. More than I ever realized. I hope this is not true, but maybe some admins just get jaded, thinking all the profs are like the more vocal prof flakes. I have to always remind myself to focus on the good students----they take up so much less of my time, but actually, at least usually, there are (slightly) more of them than the snowflakes in a given class.ReplyDelete
Miles' Law: Where you stand depends on where you sit.ReplyDelete