17.7.05

IS THIS MEETING NECESSARY? An anonymous dean at a community college somewhere in the northeast laments.
The tricky part of summer work is trying to put meetings together. Since academia is allergic to the concept of a single manager doing anything on his own intiative (that would be running the college like a business! Horrors! What’s next – tying pay to performance?), everything requires consultation and collaboration. In practice, everything requires meetings.

The logistics of assembling meetings are challenging enough during the academic year, when everyone’s calendar is full already. In the summer, simply finding days when everyone is in the state at the same time is tough.
Oh, come. Summer shut-down has been a fact of life for what, 100 years? And in that time nobody has figured out how to deal with most of the routine business by May 15? Legislative recisions have been reality for, oh, the past 15 years? And nobody has figured out the most logical contingency plans for this year yet?

Give. Me. A. Break.

And why might everyone's calendar be full during the school year? Might there be a connection between down-sizing the faculty, asking the remaining faculty to teach more sections with more students, subjecting that faculty to more inquisitions from various advisory offices keeping track of the progress of special-admissions students as well as requiring attendance at mandatory harassment or diversity training sessions or seeking participants for focus groups? (A conjecture: watch the final version of the Oregon Five Year Plan for Cultural Competence include the re-education mandatory training during the school year: resistance to that training during the summer being more likely to get people angry than the insulting nature of the training's content.)

What is the sound of Atlas, shrugging? In the academy, is it a growing reluctance of faculty to volunteer to do extra, unpaid work, during the summer session as the administrators become more intrusive and arbitrary in their demands on faculty during the nine months they are under contract? Does the absence of any rewards for greater productivity (couple those enlarged teaching loads with higher enrollments and minimal merit raises) make the faculty more protective of their own time than they otherwise would be?

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