Friday, May 13, 2011


I'm on this committee, one of many. This one's pretty busy though. One of the things we've been busy with this year is approving and dropping courses. We've approved 100+ courses. We've dropped about 15 courses.

Hmm. I bet you're thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of new courses! They must be hiring or have hired a load of new faculty!"

That's not the case, so far as I can see. Yes, we've done some hiring in my department, but no new lines. In fact, we have a couple of lines that are supposedly ours, but we don't have authorization to hire warm bodies to fill them. And we used to have some lines that are no longer ours. Buhbye.

So now you're wondering just how we're going to teach all these cool new classes and the ones we've been teaching all along. There are two ways: one is to teach the old classes less frequently. Let's imagine there's a 14th century underwater basketweaving course on the books, and then we've decided to add a course on special topics in 14th century underwater weaving practices. I could move from teaching the old course every year to teaching it every other year, and then teach the new course in the intervening years. That makes sense sometimes.

But that's not what's happening in most of these cases. Nope, in some of these cases, there's some special funding for distance ed courses under a special thing to make money on distance ed (which the administration says it will on one hand and it can't possibly on the other hand). So for those new classes, a faculty member will teach the new class and not teach the old class. But, you're thinking, what about the not distance students who need the old class?

We do what they call around here "backfilling." How's that for a vile metaphor? What it means is that we'll move the tenure line faculty member (a PhD in this case) who's teaching the new course out of a section of Intro to Underwater Basketweaving and hire an adjunct with no job security (and around here, probably not a PhD) to teach the Intro course.

For all the questioning, and the "oh, no, we won't need new resources" about these courses, we've added, say 25 courses a semester and made almost no new tenure line hires to teach them.

The deanling in charge was quite proud of this.

I feel like there's nothing to do to retard this charging stupidity in the slightest, and it only stresses me out to be on this committee. And I so very much want off it! Please let me off! (I have a couple more years of it, though. FML.)

ps. Yay Blogger is back. Boo I lost a couple of posts, I think.


  1. this stinks.

    also, blogger stinks. you've lost all your comments since wednesday, too. i hear from another source that they are supposed to be restored...

  2. This is exactly what's happening at my university -- adding "sexy, shiny" new classes in order to convince (I guess?) admin and the state to give us more funding, because (I guess?) more students will take our major if we are sexy and shiny. But who is to teach sexy, shiny classes as well as classes like Chaucer and Shakespeare and English Grammar and Comp I?

    Outsourcing was a hot idea here -- hire some kid in Texas or Bangledash to do it for $1000 a semester to teach the classes online -- but now they're just hiring up adjuncts. Not much more expensive, after all. I've lost count of the full-time (we don't have tenure) lines we've lost -- it's got to be seven or eight now.

  3. Anonymous6:36 AM

    dealings are always proud of this sort of thing (at least in my experience). They don't even have the sense not to brag to the poor sod they're hiring as "backfill." And yes, that is a totally vile metaphor.