Friday, October 30, 2009

Frazzled Friday

On Wednesday, I got a mass email from one of the support areas on campus advertising an opportunity, a sort of grant. The application is due on the 4th, one week from the advertisement date.

Okay, one might say that we worker-bees should always keep up and be aware of all the opportunities available across campus and the world; I'm sure if I'd gone looking for this a month ago, I would have found an application form. But I didn't know it existed a month ago.

However, this time, I had a heads up last week from a colleague who got the grant this year, suggesting that I look into it. So I'd been thinking a bit about it, but wasn't really aware of the due dates or what's required.

I spent much of yesterday working on writing an application letter and updating and cutting my CV down to two pages (without going to a microfont). I also need to get a support letter from the chair, dean, or provost. (I asked my chair on Wednesday, after I saw the mass email, and the chair was encouraging and supportive.)

A lot of opportunities around here hit fast in this sort of way; there are a couple of days notice, and that's it. There's a long history around here that the people who are being groomed for opportunities or whatever get a heads up ahead of time, telling them to get an app ready, and then somehow they get it. (It used to be that they'd just get the appointment, but things have opened up enough that we actually allow others to apply these days.) It's a huge advantage for anyone favored by the folks over in the administrative Fort, since they set the dates and make the choices.

I've detested the situation since I learned it existed, and yet here I am, trying to take advantage of it. I'm a little uncomfortable.

I'm also having trouble putting everything together. I have to make it sound as if I'm qualified for the grant (I think I am) but still really, really need the grant to do the work and can't possibly do it without the additional support.

I asked two colleagues to give me feedback on my letter yesterday, and I have significant work still to do. But I need to more or less get a finished draft today so I can give it to the chair to use in writing that letter.

Sometimes it seems that the people over in administration forget how busy and structured faculty lives are during the semester. A couple weeks ago, someone from the Fort put together a series of a couple programs on teaching through the flu (using electronic media, etc). The mass email was sent out encouraging all faculty folks to go two days before the first program; each of the programs was scheduled during the most class-intensive parts of the day (10-2 around here).

I'm guessing they complained about faculty not showing up.

It's like they have good ideas about programs that could help us, but then don't actually talk to any faculty folks about how to make things accessible to us. We can't change around our scheduled classes; we need serious lead time to rearrange standing committee and department meetings. The day to day work of teaching students and working with advisees goes on, and it's not very flexible for most of us.

They also tend to send us a faculty funding opportunities email once every week or two. Mine always inexplicably focus on NSF and NIH grants I should apply for. And you know, if I could link Shakespeare to a cure for cancer, I'd do it!

Back to working on my letter.


  1. That last minute stuff drives me up the wall (and of course it's even worse when there a reason why some get it last minute and some don't). I particularly hate when we get notices at the last minute about special events we might take our classes to and when people practically beg us to take our classes to them. Yes, going to hear someone lecture would be great, but do people really expect me to cancel my original plans for class at the last minute? Do they assume I have all this free time in class I don't make good use of or that my plans for class don't really matter? And faculty do this just as often as administrators, which makes no sense to me.

    Okay, that's my rant :)

  2. I have the same issues over here. Somehow they look at teaching loads and assume everything else is "free" time. So, in their view of my world, I work 15 hours/ week.

    I'm lucky, in that I generally don't need to use the grants and other things they plan poorly --

    I also hear Dorthy's complaint about bringing classes to things -- don't they realize that we have a substantial amount of material to cover -- our students have a hard enough time with the material itself, say nothing of taking out a class lecture/discussion on the material.

    My favorite example of this is the phony assessment tool my college uses. We pay a lot of money to use it, we administer it to classes of mostly sophomores -- and it takes an hour to complete in class.... and, if your section is selected it's pretty much mandatory. So, I'm expected to rearrange sophomore-level material on your whim... right.

  3. The last-minute thing drives me crazy, too. This summer I got a message about an orientation meeting for a program I would be teaching this semester. The meeting was to meet the very next the middle of summer break. Since I'm on a 9-month contract, I'm NOT going to come in for anything that isn't essential in the summer months.

    Ever gotten an e-mail about an event that's already happened? Drives me crazy.

  4. I hate it when administrators and event organisers routinely fail to give enough advance notice for things, and then get irritated when people don't or can't show up. Good luck with the funding application.