Monday, June 29, 2020

So Many Dropped Balls

Right now, this chair thing feels like juggling, only there's sharp knives mixed in with porcelain cups and rubber balls of varying sizes and weights.

I just realized I dropped a ball.  Not a knife, and not a porcelain cup.  But still...

Sometimes, the balls just bounce once and I get them, but this one rolled to a corner and I didn't notice it for far too long.  But I'll get it sorted.

In other matters: I got a desperate email from the deanling asking me to overload 1-2 students into each of several first year courses.  It reminded me of when this use to always happen.  (And yes, that was before the bad downturn of 2008.)  But we had an assistant headmaster (now a provost elsewhere) at one point who seemed to have stopped the practice for a while.  Now, my colleague, the previous chair, says she's been getting these emails every year, and when i consulted with a couple of other chairs, they, too, say they regularly get them.  And all of them warned me that there would probably be a further request for more seats later in the summer.

So I emailed the deanling that I would look into it, but that it seemed like they were asking for almost a full section of a first year course (like, a humanities general ed).  And they got a bit defensive, and claimed it wasn't like the old days.  I get that there are budget issues, but we all work hard around here, and spending a couple thousand for an extra intro history or lit course would be a much better solution.  (It costs, say $3800 in salary to hire an adjunct to teach one 3 credit course here.  Add half again that for benefits.  $5900 for a course.  I bet we have an adjunct on campus who doesn't have a full load and would like another course...)

Another ball that's almost been dropped is training for the IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee).  It's basically like the IRB is for humans, intended to make sure that any vertebrate animals used in teaching and research are properly cared for and not caused pain or harm if possible.  Mostly, NWU uses zebra fish so students can watch embryo development and mice/rats they can train with clickers and such.  But I still need to do the training (again) by the first of July.

Speaking of the first of July, I got a fabulous weekly planner that I just love.  It's an 18 month planner from Moleskin, orange, and really good.  Each week is on the verso, and then the facing page (recto) is lined for notes.  So when I need to remember to do something in September, it goes into the notes section for the first of that month.  I got it in May, and I've been filling it in and looking forward to using it for real soon!


  1. Department chair has to be the worst job in academia (with the possible exception of department secretary when there is only one secretary). During my less than distinguished time as department chair I became convinced that administrators of all stripes truly believed that department chair time is free and in infinite supply.

  2. Well, that's scary. I'm hoping it's okay...