I'm chairing a committee again this coming year, a committee that handles certain sorts of departmental stuff. Earlier this summer, I got a memo and had a conversation that led me to believe that we were basically being offered this cool thing, A (imagine a sort of grant to fund research, travel, or something else we might think is good), if we want it. It was, I was told, the sort of thing to keep in mind, and then talk with the committee about when the contract period starts in late August.
In the past two weeks, however, I got a message from our chair communicating a message from someone on the administrative side saying basically that if we on the committee wanted this good thing X, Y, and Z (imagine, perhaps, these are grants to fund research, travel, other stuff we think is good) to happen, we had to prioritize and request three specific things we want to do with X, Y, and Z.
So things looked good! We seem to have grant A locked down if we want it, and get to ask for X, Y, and Z!
And then I was told, well, no, A isn't really locked down, and if we want it, we should prioritize it in the list that was to include X, Y, and Z.
And then I was told, that although we'd been asked to prioritize these four things, it was likely that we'd only actually get two of them.
And blah blah. I've now met with the committee, and we've done a survey, and so on and so forth, and each time I feel like I'm communicating a new limit to the committee because the chair's communicating a new limit to me, because the administration is communicating a new limit to the chair. I have a feeling that they forgot about A when they told us we should ask for X, Y, and Z, and then remembering A, decided that we couldn't actually have all four because they only have funding for three. And so on.
It's all about thoughtlessly asking us to jump through hoops when I have a feeling that the administrators who decide have already decided that we can have two of our four things, and they don't really care, except they do, and we'd better request the two they really want to fund, and somehow we're supposed to know those without being told. And since the administrators are all paid to work twelve months, they really don't see why faculty shouldn't be willing to put in some time to do this.
Of course, if our administration was competent, they'd have realized this was coming up in the spring and let us know, and we'd have taken care of it. Instead, they told us that the budget meant that we weren't going to get any of this sort of funding for the coming year, so we didn't spend our energy prioritizing stuff. (There's been changeover in the administration, so the new folks might have different funding priorities, and that would explain, possibly, the sudden shift. It also might help explain the continued shifting, since the new folks are new, and some of the bean counters might be leading them around to get done what the bean counters want done. Well, one bean counter, anyway.)
I wish there were a way to communicate to other faculty on campus to argue that we should all stand together for not doing these requests until we're under contract. But, of course, the faculty who did them anyway would likely get all the funding, no? And the rest would be told that we didn't put in any requests, so we wouldn't get funding.
I also wish there were a way to bill the university for the committee's time this past week. A couple hours for each person, and probably twice those hours for me (since I've done a lot of work putting together the requests as requests). What should I charge in my imaginary bill? $100/hour? minimum wage? $500/hour? I wonder what administrators make as consultants?