Monday, September 13, 2010

Chairs and Phones

We had our first department meeting today.  Yes, school has been in session about 3 weeks, but we're just now getting around to having a meeting.  This, in the midst of budget cuts, etc.

Par for the course, unfortunately.  Our chair is practically phoning it in. 

So the rest of the department has started to decide everything in subcommittees, in which we all meet and make real decisions and then inform the chair (or just implement the decision).  We've made the delightful innovation lately of doing this over an early dinner.  Sure makes the extra meetings more pleasant.

At the end of last year, I conducted exit interviews with majors, as I've done the last several years. This year I added questions about our two untenured faculty who will soon come up for comprehensive review.  The bright idea was that we could include the results in those faculties' teaching files, to make them all the stronger.  Extra measures = extra good. 

Last spring the chair thought this was a great idea and gave me the go-ahead.  This year, today, in meeting, she claims that it can't be used.  She had some long-winded, tortuous explanation in which she rehearsed the bureaucracy and then gave some seemingly unrelated bits of anecdotal evidence.  We don't know what is wrong with her. But I do know that I reeeeaaaaalllyyyy don't like having my time wasted.

One of the tenure-track faculty was very disappointed.  She is an exceptionally tough professor in the classroom, and at first students resent her for it, but ultimately, by the time they are graduating and doing the exit interviews, they LOVE her for it and practically fall all over themselves about how amazingly brilliant she is and how much they learned from her.  Plus, their mention of how tough she is helps account for why some students give her low scores on her end of semester evaluations.  Well, I am glad that at least now she can be sure she's doing something right in her teaching.  It is hard being a hard teacher (but it sure looks easy being a lame chair).

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