Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Unexpected freedom

So I'm feeling perversely free this evening. Why so?

As you know, I was hired at this job to grow this tiny program. I am the ONLY faculty member. I have spent the last four months dutifully doing the very tedious job of curriculum revision, proposing brand new courses, etc. (Which have been approved, as of last week - yay, me, I suppose.) What has become clear to me over the last couple of months is how incredibly isolated I feel in my job, being a program of one. I don't like it. I didn't realize I'd dislike it so much, but I do. I have an "Advisory Committee", but they're totally burnt out - the last meeting I called, two of the other three people just didn't show up. Uh-huh. Gee, do I feel supported.

The program currently offers a minor, but basically no student does a minor because they haven't had the faculty resources to commit to teaching enough courses for people to realistically minor in it. That doesn't get much better with me - I teach a 2-2 load. Since 1-1 of that load is the Intro courses - Intro I and Intro II - that sure as hell doesn't free up much for offering any more courses and enabling students to actually take this program.

So of course, for next year, my Chair and I hoped to hire an adjunct to teach 2-3 courses in addition to my 4. (Well, I don't hope for an adjunct, I hope for a full-time hire, but that's not happening.) I was just counting on this happening, in fact. Of course, I thought, it's a no-brainer. You can't grow a program without throwing some (admittedly, inadequate) resources at it.

What do I learn today? From on high comes word that there will be no sessional hires next year. There will be only me again, teaching my 2-2 load. This is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard. As I say above, it is not possible to grow - or even really offer - a program under these circumstances.

But I must say, I feel incredibly, laughingly free. You know why? Because it means I can leave this godforsaken institution with no guilt, without looking back. I feel lied to, I feel like my job is completely pointless. Why should I stay here? So I can toil away in isolation, as the bone that was thrown to what were considered to be a bunch of whiny faculty members, to shut them up? That's humiliating, frankly.

Let's review, shall we?

- Because of the lack of resources, students can't take a minor properly. (In fact, if I feel any guilt, it's about the completely misleading existence of this program in the calendar, masquerading as a viable minor...I have first-year students who are liking it, and want to do a minor.)
- I have no colleagues, hence nobody with whom to bounce around ideas and share the admin workload (there is some, when you're supposed to be growing a pointless program).
- I can't mount a course in the very thing which is the area of my expertise, which also absolutely should be a required course because every student should have a Theory course, since a territorial person from another department (who is not an expert in this area, I mean) has put on a similar course and made it clear that they will raise hell if I teach this.
- I'm liking working with grad students (i.e. the two I have in my class, and being the University examiner on this defense the other day) and have a potential one I'll be co-supervising next year. But grad studies is a right mess, resulting in me having to give uncompensated directed reading courses to every single grad student who crosses my threshold because there are no courses for them.
- I have a higher-up with whom my every interaction feels punitive.

So, I call bullshit, and that is liberating, see.


Psychgrad said...

No wonder you're feeling isolated there! Has anyone explained how they expect you to grow the program without resources?

Hilaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
heu mihi said...

Well, I can certainly see how that would be a liberating realization. You owe this institution nothing. And you can start plotting your escape at any time. It's not even as if you're letting any students down, since in effect they've already been let down by the institution itself.

I'm so sorry that you've had such a rough time this year. But it's seemed all along like this wasn't going to be a place where you would be really happy anytime soon, so there's something good about being off the hook, eh? Maybe?

Hilaire said...

Psychgrad - No, nobody's told me anything. But I haven't explicitly confronted it, yet - I just learned this today. I should talk to my Dean about this decision.

Heu Mihi - You know, it *is* good to be off the hook.

Bardiac said...

It's always important to remember that a job is a job. There are other jobs. They're different, some better, some worse. But you don't owe more than your honest labor to your employer of the moment.

Congrats on feeling liberated!

Brigindo said...

That is definitely bullshit. It is hard to know when interviewing if an opportunity is legitimate or if you're being used for other purposes. I was offered my position to help build a research center that was exactly in my area. Being part of this center reduced my teaching load to 1-1 but I soon found out that the center was considered window dressing for fund raising and there was no real way to conduct meaningful research or to grow. We had slightly more resources than it sounds like you've been given but the outcome was pretty much the same. I was spending my time in useless activities. Luckily I could be "claimed" by my department and life is much better.

Once I realized I couldn't do what I was technically hired to do I stopped trying and focused on what I needed to do for myself. It did feel liberating. Congratulations

dbm/gaa said...

Your logic makes perfect sense to me! Start seriously looking for another job ASAP and get the hell outta there.

Hilaire said...

Bardiac - This is true. It's so hard to get out of thinking of it as a life sentence, in this profession!

Brigindo - See, that's a really interesting story! So very similar. I'm glad you have a department who could "claim" you. I'd also like to be claimed, but unfortunately, there's a weird administrative division in place here (I should have listed that as another factor militating against my happiness here) that will make it impossible for any department with whom I have affinities, to claim me. But it's great to hear about your experience, and to hear that you felt okay just stopping with the useless work. Yes! It is stopped from this day forward - I will not be doing any more curriculum development. Forget about it.

Grumpy - Yeah, I'm on the lookout - seems I really missed the boat this year. It looked like Dream UNi (i.e. last year's) might have a TT position, finally - but they've just released their postings and it looks as if they have a hiring freeze. Oh well, one can only hope that TT post will finally come down the line next year.

Marcelle Proust said...

"The curriculum is as developed as I can make it given the number of faculty members we have to teach said curriculum. The students are so enthusiastic that I'm really enjoying teaching them."

Thinks: no useless work, reduce time on teaching, send out every possible publication, get the hell out.

Bonne chance et bon courage.

medieval woman said...

Good god - talk about their putting the very last nail inthe coffin - they have lost you! You've paid your dues, babe, and you have every right to feel absolutely no loyalty or guilt at all. I feel like a plumb will come your way this next year - maybe at Dream Uni!