Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Program X

Our contract period started, and lots of friends have already started teaching.

My to-do list is a bit overwhelming.  Holy cow!

Meetings, endless meetings, scheduled for the next couple of weeks. 

There's a program here, let's call it Program X, which provides a degree, and is the only such degree for about 80 miles around, and far more in some directions.  The problem is that Program X requires a good amount of resources but has very few students.  And we don't have all the resources we should for Program X, though we like to pretend we do, so the few students we have don't really get a strong Program X degree.

Every few years, we have a meeting and someone has a big plan to "save" Program X.  Some of these solutions are about getting more students, others about cutting down resources.

Early on, Program X's director wanted to cut one of the required courses because students didn't like it, and most faculty didn't like it.  But it was one of those "how to research in this field" courses, so not having it made the program a bit weaker.  A part of the material was added to another required course.  (There were, when I started, three required courses, an intro, a research methods, and a theory course.)

One year Program X added a new sub-program which, we were assured, would bring in lots of students.  It brings in a few, but mostly, people who were in the old program switch over.  But the new sub-program takes resources from the old, so the old program was cut down, making it even weaker.

Then Program X's director said that with the new sub-program, we really couldn't ask students to do the theory course, and they didn't like it, and if they got rid of it, they could take more new sub-program courses.  So that change happened.  A little theory was going into the intro course, they promised.

More recently, Program X's director came up with the idea that students in another major could sort of do a double with Program X, and that would bring in lots of students.  Of course, in order to do this, the other major would be weakened.

Now, Program X has a new director, and unlike the other directors, this one very much wants to get into administration.  Since they've been here, they've been taking on or trying to take on increasingly administrative roles all over.  In some ways, they're good at this.  But holy cow, every time I'm in a meeting, this person has to talk, and my brain just shuts down on them.  This may be me being a jerk, or it may be a response to the administrivial jargon they tend to use for everything.

It sounds like the new director is making a big push for assessment (quite natural, given the climate), and re-asserting the other changes in hopes of attracting all those students to do the extra program.

(On one level, this person is pushed into administrative stuffs by those above, but they're "missing" one quality the upper administrators love, and so I think that's held them back.  I don't think they'd be a great administrator, but I don't think that's the quality that's holding them back, since other folks who are crap get pulled up into administration fairly often.  The quality this new director is "missing"?  Whiteness.  Yeah, that's a problem around here.  And so I both root for and dread the new Program X director's desire to get into administration.)

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